Fabio Capello defended his England team after they could manage no more than a goalless draw in their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against Montenegro on Tuesday at Wembley. The draw leaves England three points behind leaders Montenegro in Group G, albeit with a game in hand.
"I am a fighter. It is one game. We have to fight again," said Capello. "I think we are a good team. The goalkeeper was the best player for Montenegro. This is football."
"You have to respect little countries. They have good players. At this moment they are psychologically at a high point having won three games.
"They were compact. The quality was good. Against Algeria (at South Africa 2010) we didn't create a lot of chances. Tonight we did create chances," the England manager said.
Capello also defended Wayne Rooney; the Manchester United striker missed two chances and looked out of sorts for most of the match. "Rooney played a normal game," said Capello. "He had two chances and twice the goalkeeper was very good, the second save was a fantastic save. We created four clear chances to score goals."
Capello did, however, concede that England were fortunate when, in the second half, Montenegro defender Milan Jovanovic hit the bar with a shot which had beaten goalkeeper Joe Hart. "We were lucky because they had one shot at goal and it hit the bar," Capello said.
"In other games they have had two shots and always scored. This (Montenegro) team is a good team at the moment. They are a compact team, they work a lot. They are technically good. It is the fourth time they have had a clean sheet. It is not easy, you have to score quickly against them to make it easier," he said.
Capello conceded that the next game against Wales in March will be crucial in a group where only the winner qualifies automatically. When asked if the struggle against Montenegro would make him question his decision to continue after a disappointing 2010 FIFA World Cup™, Capello replied with an emphatic "Absolutely no."
"This is my job," he said. "It is one game. When we finish the qualification it will have told you something about that."
Montenegro coach Zlatko Kranjcar, meanwhile, was happy with the result. "It is not a miracle. It is a result which exceeds all our expectations," said Kranjcar.
"It shows this team has the strength to achieve its goal of making the finals of the European Championships. We put on a great display. It wasn't easy but we had a plan. We knew England's strengths and we executed the plan perfectly.
"We are closer to that goal but there are a lot of games to play. If the other teams do not fulfil their expectations we might even finish top of the group," said Kranjcar who believes his side can now shock England in the return match in 12 months time. "England are the clear favourites and they will find a way to win all their next games in the group, but I believe my team has the quality and strength."