Here are transcripts of some of the interviews given after Finland’s victory over Belgium on Wednesday evening, translated from Finnish where necessary. The interviews can be viewed at huuhkaja.tv.
Finland manager Stuart Baxter
Stuart Baxter, a 1-0 victory against Belgium. What are your thoughts on the match?
Mixed, really. I think we had a very strong bench at the beginning of the game, and we had a team that had a lot of younger players starting together. That was interesting for us to see. I thought the first twenty minutes were very good, and we took the lead. Then we lost our way for a while; we became sloppy with our shape, we became slow with the ball, and we chose the wrong pass too often. It wasn’t until the last twenty minutes, when Jari came on, and he started to get our shape back, that we started to make better decisions. I thought our last twenty minutes was quite good again. I’m very pleased with the result, as it’s always good to win, and pleased that we could get some of the younger boys on the field together.
Did you achieve, tactically and gamewise, the things you wanted to achieve?
We saw a lot of similarities between Belgium and Holland. We wanted to do some work around the box, on our transitions and on our defending. It’s always difficult [to prepare for upcoming matches] because you have to make changes – if someone gets injured then that spoils it to a degree. Some of our work around the box in the first twenty minutes was interesting, and some of our work spinning in behind their back line and timing our movement was quite good, but no, we didn’t achieve everything.
Do things still look good, thinking towards the upcoming qualifiers?
Well, we’ve been to Poland and drawn 0-0, and here we’ve beaten a decent Belgium team 1-0. So our form is OK, and we’ll get Sami back, and we’ve got a full squad of players with some time in their legs now. I’ve been able to give playing time to all of the players I wanted to. We’ve got a broader squad now, and I think we’re on track.
Finland captain Petri Pasanen
Petri Pasanen, as captain today, you led the Eagle Owls onto the field for the first time and opened your victories account straight away. How did it feel to have the captaincy?
I heard only this morning that I was going to be the captain, and of course it’s an honour. Even better was that we achieved a victory as well.
What are your thoughts on the match in general?
The first half an hour was good, but then things began to slip away from us. We let Belgium keep the ball too much. But we managed to regain control towards the end, and a win is a win.
How did you feel about this match as a dress rehearsal for the qualification matches which begin soon?
I would say that it was an important practice match with the qualifiers in mind. As I said before, the best outcome was a victory, and we’ve got that. It’s a good platform for us to defeat Moldova in the first qualifying game.
You’ve usually played for the national team as a right-back, but today you played in the centre alongside Markus Heikkinen. How did that feel?
At my club [Werder Bremen], I’ve alternated between the side and the centre of the defence, so there were no problems. I played in the centre today, but I’m not sure where I’ll play in future.
Would you like to continue at centre-back?
I don’t really mind. What’s important is that I can help the team wherever I play.
Belgium captain Thomas Vermaelen
A 1-0 loss today against Finland. What are your thoughts?
I think we didn’t play well in the first half; they were better for the first twenty minutes. In the second half we put more pressure on them and we created a few chances, but not enough. I don’t think they had many chances either, but it finished 1-0 so we lost.