Netherlands coach Ruud Kaiser is still full of regret when he recalls that final defeat against Turkey in Italy just a few months ago. "We wasted an incredible number of chances in the first half, and luck deserted us." Now the Oranje team have a chance at redemption in the third place play-off of the FIFA U-17 World Championship Peru 2005.
Now that both teams have seen their dreams of World Championship glory shattered, it will be fascinating to see which of them can still focus and find the necessary motivation. The Dutch camp are still bitterly disappointed to have missed out on the final. "We were unfortunate against Mexico and it simply wasn't our day. It is a scandal that we are not in the final," claimed midfielder Niels Vorthoren. "The Mexicans converted every opportunity while we wasted a series of chances. I do not think Mexico were better than us."
It was scant consolation for the Dutch to be ranked among the best four U-17 teams in the world. "That is obviously satisfying but it is outweighed by the disappointment of missing the final." However, that is not to say the European Championship runners-up will be lacking in motivation: "The third place play-off is very important. We want to end the tournament on a high and the fact that we are playing Turkey gives us great motivation because it will be a chance for revenge for the European Championship final."
Turkey were no less disappointed after their bitter 4-3 defeat to Brazil. The Turks clawed back a 3-0 deficit with ten men in the semi-final, only to suffer a late sucker punch. Midfielder Nuri Sahin was just amazed that his team got back into the game at 3-0: "Nobody would have thought we could come back to 3-3 from 3-0. We only dared to believe again at 3-1."
Sahin has somewhat mixed feelings as he looks ahead to the clash with the Netherlands: "It is difficult to motivate yourself again because we have missed out on our main objective. But we will take it as it comes. We always like to play against the Netherlands because they are always good games. We want to be third and not fourth. Some of our players are also still aiming for the Golden Boot. We still want to show that we are the best team here but we will have to see whether our legs are heavy. We are relaxed about the game against the Netherlands. If we win, great, if we lose, it is not the end of the world."
Sahin also found some kind words for his play-off opponents: "The Netherlands deserved to be in the semi-final. They are very strong going forward and have a good goalkeeper. It will be a difficult game for us. It was certainly hard work in the European Championship final."