Jong Oranje captain learns from Blues' stars
Monday, 14 May 2012 15:22

Participating in their third final in four years – against the same opponents as in each of their two previous deciders – the Netherlands are on course to emulate the Spanish team of 2008 by retaining their Under-17 trophy. But it was not a smooth ride through the last four. Despite having a man advantage for over an hour against Georgia, the Netherlands struggled to break down their opponents and got their vital goals moments from time. Captain and talisman Nathan Ake spoke to after the game and credited the high standard at his club for his improvement.

"It was a difficult game again," said Ake. "Because after the red card they were defending for the whole game. We had a lot of chances, me as well, but we kept going. Our coach told us to just keep going and not to let our heads drop, because we had 80 minutes to score. So we just kept going and the goals came."

The Dutchman knows that his side have had to work to reach the final, but feels his team has improved over their four matches and is looking forward to facing Germany in Wednesday's showpiece. "I think we've got better during the tournament," enthused Ake. "Georgia was tough as we weren't able to play our game. But the result was good and to be in the final again is a good feeling. It will be a big test of our level against Germany, and it should be a good final."

Ake is impressing in midfield this tournament but is also comfortable at the back, just like his role model at Chelsea FC, David Luiz. The Blues' youngster attributes much of his personal improvement to the quality of training in west London. "The guys at Chelsea are at a very high level," said Ake. "I play with big players and have high quality team-mates, and I can feel my own level going up. If you play at a difficult tournament like this you just have to show what you can do, and I think it is going well."

But the captain was quick to switch the flow of the conversation away from himself. "We are a real close team," he said. "Everyone is friends with everybody else, and I think that is what makes us strong."

"We are together, we are strong-minded and keep going to the end as we showed against Georgia," he concluded. "Hopefully we can show that in the final."

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