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Finals draws raises Estonia expectations

Published: Thursday 7 June 2012, 9.55CET
Following the draw for the 11th UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Tallinn, host nation Estonia are predicting "a lot of fun" by the Baltic this summer.
by Mikhail Malkin
from Tallinn
Finals draws raises Estonia expectations
UEFA Youth and Amateur Committee chairman Jim Boyce at the draw in Tallinn ©Hendrik Osula
Published: Thursday 7 June 2012, 9.55CET

Finals draws raises Estonia expectations

Following the draw for the 11th UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Tallinn, host nation Estonia are predicting "a lot of fun" by the Baltic this summer.

After the draw for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship final tournament was held in Tallinn, hopes are high for a memorable summer of football in Estonia.

It is the first final tournament that we will host and the first one in which we'll participate. It is very special moment for us
Aivar Pohlak
It is a historical event for Estonian football and for all the country. It is a big privilege for us and a fantastic opportunity
Mart Poom

The hosts will be joined by the most successful side in the competition's history, Spain – who claimed their fifth U19 title in 2011 – plus Portugal and Greece, who have both reached the final, in Group A and they are relishing the opportunity.

"It is a really big honour for us," said Estonian Football Association (EJL) president Aivar Pohlak. "It is the first final tournament that we will host and the first one in which we'll participate. It is very special moment for us. We really would like to prove that it was the right choice to give us a chance to host these finals."

In addition to Tallinn, games will be held in Rakvere and Haapsalu and Pohlak believes all three venues will welcome the competition with open arms. "This tournament will bring a lot of fun to the people of three cities," he said. "We tried to make a competitive concept and that's why we chose Tallinn and two cities which are not more than 100 km away from the capital. We are really pleased with the preparations."

Among the guests at the draw at the Meriton Grand Conference & Spa Hotel was Tõnu Seil, the vice-chancellor of Estonian ministry of culture, who hailed the pre-tournament work that has been put in. "Great achievements of our national team and the efforts of the association have put Estonia on the European football map," said Seil. "Football has become more and more popular in Estonia. I would like to thank UEFA for their decision. This will be the top sports event this year in our country, and I'm glad you will visit such beautiful Estonian cities as Tallinn, Rakvere and Haapsalu."

The chairman of the UEFA Youth & Amateur Football Committee, Jim Boyce, helped to conduct the draw in Tallinn and was equally keen to praise the efforts of the home nation. "The progress of Estonian football over the last few years has been tremendous," he told his audience. "You've proved you deserve to host this type of international tournament."

Helping with the draw alongside Boyce was Mart Poom, the finals ambassador who, after 120 caps for the senior national side, knows all about the pressure of international football. "As a sporting target, our team will try to finish in the top six to guarantee a place in the [2013] FIFA U-20 World Cup," he said. "It's a big honour to be an ambassador. It is a historical event for Estonian football and for all the country. It is a big privilege for us and a fantastic opportunity for Estonia to promote itself."

Last updated: 07/06/12 11.52CET

http://www.uefa.com/news/newsid=1808598.html#finals+draws+raises+estonia+expectations

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