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Estonian preparations gathering pace

Published: Monday 13 February 2012, 9.25CET
With less than five months to go until the finals, hosts Estonia stepped up their preparations with legendary goalkeeper Mart Poom named as tournament ambassador.
by Mihkel Uiboleht
from Tallinn
Estonian preparations gathering pace
Hopes are high for a successful tournament in Estonia ©EJL
Published: Monday 13 February 2012, 9.25CET

Estonian preparations gathering pace

With less than five months to go until the finals, hosts Estonia stepped up their preparations with legendary goalkeeper Mart Poom named as tournament ambassador.

Preparations gathered pace for this summer's UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Estonia when the host association unveiled legendary former goalkeeper Mart Poom and presented the finals venues and match schedule at a special event in Tallinn.

The finals will take place between 3 and 15 July with matches being held at the Lilleküla and Kadriorg Stadiums in Tallinn and the City Stadiums in Rakvere and Haapsalu. The Lilleküla Stadium will host the opening match, both semi-finals and the final while other stadiums will all stage three group games. Nine of the 15 finals fixtures will be shown on Eurosport.

"This is the first time ever an Estonian team will play in a final tournament," said the hosts' head coach, Frank Bernhardt, at the event on Friday. "We're motivated to give everything we have in front of our own fans."

With former international Poom – who won 120 caps for the senior national side during a career that including spells at Derby County FC, Arsenal FC and Sunderland AFC, as well as stints in Finland, Switzerland and his homeland – announced as the ambassador, home hopes are high for a tournament to remember.

"At a time when it is increasingly hard for young people to find their role in society, we see this tournament as one of the tools for influencing that process in a positive way through football," said Estonian Football Association president Aivar Pohlak. "This is one of the missions of our federation."

The countries who will join Estonia in the eight-team finals will become known when the seven elite round groups take place between 23 and 31 May. The draw for the final tournament will be staged in Tallinn on 6 June, which also marks the 103rd anniversary of Estonian football.

Last updated: 13/02/12 23.27CET

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