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Denmark goalkeeper says he’s proud
of team despite World Cup exit    

NIZHNY NOVGOROD Russia (Xinhua) -- Denmark goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel says he is proud of his team despite of their failure to reach the World Cup quarterfinals after a disappointing loss to Croatia here on Sunday.

After a 120-minute draw, the Danish lost 3-2 to Croatia in a thrilling penalty shootout, in which the Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved three penalties and Schmeichel stopped two.

Schmeichel was chosen as the man of the match for his superb saves. “Today we had opportunities, and we were better in the second half and in the extra time. But we didn’t have the luck. It is difficult to accept that and to put it into words,” Schmeichel said at a post-match conference.

“It’s a strange feeling, [a] huge disappointment, but also enormous pride about our team, not only the 11 people on the pitch, but also everyone involved or working for the team,” the 31-year-old said.

When asked about whether he felt let down by teammates who missed the penalties in the shootout, Schmeichel said that anyone who stood up and took the penalty is a hero to him and has his respect. “We win, we lose, as a team. This is a fantastic team, which I’m proud of. It’s important that we remember this feeling, and we use it in the future,” he said.

During extra time, Schmeichel saved a Luka Modric penalty and prevented Croatia from winning the game before the lottery of a penalty shootout. He said after the game that the save was made with intuition, “with what I felt at that moment; unfortunately it was not enough in the end.”

Although the team will not continue their World Cup campaign, Schmeichel thanked the hosts for organizing such a good tournament. “Everywhere we went, we were treated very well. The pitch, the stadium, the fans...everything is fantastic. It was upsetting that we are not going to experience this anymore,” he said.

Schmeichel was watched by his father and former Denmark and Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel.

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UPDATE:

This is the cruelty of football, says Denmark coach

NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia, (Xinhua) -- Denmark coach Age Hareide said on Sunday that his team lost to Croatia by only a small margin and this is the cruelty of football.

Denmark lost to Croatia 3-2 in a thrilling penalty shoot-out after an rather even match with the two sides tied 1-1 after extra time.

Goalkeepers from both sides performed outstandingly, with Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saving three penalties and Denmark’s Kasper Schmeichel stopping two.

“Kasper did all that he could to make sure we won the match, both in extra time and in shootout. But our three best players for penalties all missed today,” Hareide told a post-match press conference.

“I’m sorry for Kasper and for the whole team. I think they played well. But that is what can happen in penalties, and this is the cruelty of football,” the coach added.

He went on to explain how players could miss penalties though they have been much better during trainings.

“When you are out there in training, there is no pressure. But research shows that your pulse is like in a war zone when you take a penalty. We had a wonderful keeper, but that didn’t help,” he said.

Hareide said that his players had done a good job in getting Croatia under control and creating chances, and he could think of nothing that he could have done differently or better to win the match.

“If you put more people up front, there is risk of counterattack. Croatia is one of the best teams in Europe on counterattacks. Having control is also important. But we (already) had better control in the second half,” said the coach.

Regarding the team’s future, Hareide said that his team will continue to stay strong and learn a lot from the World Cup matches.

“When we go back to the locker room, we continue as team. If we can stay strong, I think we will be better in the (future) European Championships,” he said.

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