SIMON ECKER / AIPS in TILBURG*: After the final whistle, German defender Babett Peter stood for several minutes motionless on the pitch, hands on her knees. She shook her in denial head again and again.
Disappointment was written in her face. Moments before, Germany had lost their quarter-finals match against Denmark 2-1 and had been unexpectedly eliminated from the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017. It was the end of an era which had seen six successive titles won since 1995.
In the day’s second quater-finals finals newcomers Austria beat Spain 5-3 on penalties after a 0-0 extra time draw in Tilburg
German head coach Steffi Jones said: “We have to analyse the knock-out. I question myself and afterwards we will see if we made the right decisions. We were winning 1-0 and played as we were in deficit. Through annoying mistakes we reinforced the Danes.”
Germany showed a worrying lack of accuracy in the build-up, and several misplaced passes were the result. Jones referred to the ‘mental weakness’ of her squad, as even experienced players were not able to pass the ball to the teammates.
Before the equaliser, Dzsenifer Marozsan and Isabel Kerschowski waited for the referee’s whistle (the assistant referee had raised her flag), but game kept on and Denmark player Stine Larsen could escape unchallenged before assisting Nadia Nadim.
“I can’t explain, what was going on in our minds. The attitude and body language were totally wrong. During the group stage, I was pleased with the willpower and fight, but today these qualities weren’t present at all,” explained captain Marozsan, who could not hide her tears in the mixed zone.
Furthermore and as in the last games, scoring was Germany’s biggest problem. After the fairy-tale start with the early lead by Kerschowski, Jones’s side missed a number of chances. Forward Linda Dallmann missed two clear attempts in front of the Danish goalkeeper. The Scandinavians were significantly more effective. Theresa Nielsen scored the winning goal seven minutes before the final whistle.
“It is unbelievable. We were too careless and had too many ball losses. I don’t know what’s happened after the 1-0. For the moment we need time on our own,” said Peter, who gave support to the coach.
Right after the match, Jones would not give a forecast regarding her future as German coach, although she wants to continue. “I’m still motivated and I enjoyed the competition, even if it’s not the result that we all expected. Denmark had the will to win and we had not, that was crucial. But we will learn from this experience and come back stronger,” said Jones before she disappeared in the team bus.
** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. and is currently undertaking a Young Reporters course in the Netherlands in co-operation with UEFA, More information: www.AIPSmedia.com