Scotland may have slipped to defeat in the opening game of their Under-19 Elite Round but coach Donald Park is far from downbeat ahead of Saturday’s second group game against Netherlands.
Germany ran out convincing 3-0 winners but Park pointed to positives and areas that need tweaked rather than transformed.
Donald, now the dust has settled, what was your take on the opening game?
I actually thought we defended really well as a back four. Germany gave us problems with their movement but they are a very, very good team with some talented players. The bottom line is that they were a bit better than we were but there were good passages of play for us, especially either side of half-time. Their keeper pulled off a wonderful save from a Ryan Porteous header when they were a goal up, which could obviously have changed the course of the game. Overall, I also have to say that my two centre-backs were immense throughout.
What was the message to the players afterwards?
We had a good chat about the game as a squad. We know we’ve got a tough one to come against Netherlands. They beat Norway 6-1 in their opening game, though, to be fair to the Norwegians, I don’t think the scoreline was fair on them. We’ll make a few changes to the team to give the boys some experience at this level. I don’t want them to be too disheartened and I told them that. We need to take better care of the ball in the middle third. We gave it away too easily, though Germany pressed us very well in there. We had opportunities to counter but we didn’t make the most of it.
How do you expect the Dutch to approach the game?
The Dutch will play the way their teams have historically played. They’ll go 4-3-3 with wingers who like to come in and play as second strikers. That will give us problems to solve but the boys know what to expect. We’ve been through it. We want to make sure we take the game to them at the same time and I know we have enough ability within the group to do that.
It was a tough start in a tough group, but presumably a good experience nevertheless?
Being out here, playing in that game against Germany, it’s great experience for the boys. A few of them played very well and I wanted to remind them of that. It’s not all doom and gloom at all. For all Germany’s good play, the first goal was easily avoided from our point of view. The second goal came courtesy of a deflection and the third was an unfortunate penalty. There are things we will look to improve on and I’m confident we will.
European Under-19 Championship Elite Round
Elite Round group winners will go on to play in the finals this summer in Finland.
Scotland 0 Germany 3, Wednesday 21 March, kick-off 6pm (local time), Am Bruchbaum, Lippstadt.
Scotland v Netherlands, Saturday 24 March, kick-off 5pm (local time), Stadion Grosse Wiese, Arnsberg.
Scotland v Norway, Tuesday 27 March, kick-off 6pm (local time), Am Bruchbaum, Lippstadt.
Aidan McAdams (Rangers)
Kieran Wright (Rangers*)
Aidan Wilson (Rangers*)
Daniel Church (Celtic)
Matthew Shiels (Rangers)
Robbie Deas (Celtic)
Ryan Porteous (Hibernian)
Stephen Welsh (Celtic)
Wallace Duffy (Celtic)
Charlie Gilmour (Arsenal)
Elliot Watt (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
Jamie Barjonas (Rangers)
Jonny Mitchell (Falkirk) PS
Kerr McInroy (Celtic)
Lewis Ferguson (Hamilton Academical)
Fraser Hornby (Everton)
Fraser Murray (Hibernian)
Glenn Middleton (Rangers)
Jack Aitchison (Celtic)
Zak Rudden (Rangers) PS
*On loan to Albion Rovers
**On loan to Dumbarton
PS - denotes Performance School player