The long road home
When the FIFA U-17 World Championship got underway on 16 September 2005, there were 16 sides dreaming of glory. Within the space of twelve short days, however, half of them have seen their hopes go up in smoke. The losing coaches gave their reactions to FIFA.com as they waved a fond farewell to Peru, but amid the sadness and resignation, hope flickered eternal.
José Pavoni (Peru coach): "I'm very sad and dejected we failed to get through. We really didn't expect it as we've been performing so brilliantly for the last 18 months. I'd like to thank the people for their support, and I'd just like to point out again how hard the boys have tried. I want to keep working with them. We can't stop now."
David Duncan (Ghana coach): "We're leaving with our heads held high. Maybe the boys were bit nervous because of the size of the tournament and their age, and I think that showed out on the pitch. We also had someone sent off in most of the games and that didn't help. I couldn't have asked for any more from the team, though. They gave it everything and I'm very proud of them. They have a great future ahead of them."
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Ange Postecoglou (Australia coach): "It's a real shame we got knocked out in the first round, but we should remember that every FIFA tournament represents another step forward for football in Australia. Obviously the qualifying competition was much easier, and the teams we faced there were nowhere near as strong as our opponents in Peru. That said, I reckon we've learnt a lot from the experience and I'm delighted we're going home with a win under our belts at least."
Gustavo Ferrín (Uruguay coach): "I'm so disappointed we've been knocked out. We played good football but got no reward for it. When we left Uruguay we promised we'd play well and that's exactly what we did. We just didn't have any luck in the first two games. Putting the results to one side, though, I'm delighted with the team's magnificent attitude. The boys have handled the whole thing really well and have been very professional in their approach. It's been an invaluable experience, and I'm sure Uruguayan football will benefit from it tremendously in the future."
Francois Bohe (Côte d'Ivoire coach): "Nobody likes being knocked out in the first round, of course, but we mustn't lose hope. Our goals have been very clear right from the beginning: three years ago we took 40 players and started building the current team. We'll be looking to qualify for the next U-20 World Championship with players who will one day form part of the full squad. That's the long-term goal."
Francesco Rocca (Italy coach): "We gave away goals by pushing too many people forward. It was very special to take part in the tournament, though. I would like to thank FIFA, the organisers and the wonderful people of Peru. We played three very tough games at the highest level. It has been a tremendous experience for my players and it's heartbreaking to have to say goodbye."
Fred Osam Duodu (Gambia coach): "That's football. It's all about winning and losing. But we shouldn't be downhearted. It's our very first World Championship, we won two games, including the match with Brazil, and only lost one. It hurts, but we're happy with how we've performed here."
Tini Ruijs (Qatar coach): "Before the tournament started I told the players we we're playing for the pride of the country, but something wasn't quite right. I'm not really that surprised by the results as we didn't have enough time to prepare for the tournament. When you consider that the Brazilians have been preparing for two years compared to three months in our case, it's understandable that there's such a big gap between the two sides. Even though we conceded a lot of goals, it was great to play in front of big crowds in Piura and Trujillo. This was Qatar's seventh appearance in the World Championship and I'm pretty sure it's their worst ever performance."