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Norway aim to claim finals place

Published: Wednesday 27 April 2011, 10.00CET
Norway have home advantage in Group 6 although two-time semi-finalists Serbia block their path to the finals, while Moldova and elite-round debutants Wales also have cause for confidence.
Norway aim to claim finals place
Rosenborg's Markus Henriksen is a key part of the Norway team ©Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 27 April 2011, 10.00CET

Norway aim to claim finals place

Norway have home advantage in Group 6 although two-time semi-finalists Serbia block their path to the finals, while Moldova and elite-round debutants Wales also have cause for confidence.

Group 6 hosts Norway are hoping to make the most of home advantage as the UEFA European Under-19 Championship elite round kicks off on Thursday although Serbia – semi-finalists in 2005 and 2009 – are sure to put up a stiff challenge. Moldova are in this stage for the first time since 2008 and the third overall, while elite-round debutants Wales qualified unbeaten.

Serghei Clescenco's achievement in guiding Moldova to the elite round as one of the two best third-placed teams was recognised as he was voted the country's coach of the year for 2010. Clescenco's team enjoyed 2-1 and 4-3 friendly wins against finals hosts Romania but lost to both Belarus and Russia. "Despite [those defeats] I saw some glimpses of football we're trying to pursue," the coach said. "The upcoming games will be extremely tough, but we'll try to put in solid performances and give everyone a fight."

Qualifying round: Hungary 1-0, Poland 0-0, Finland 2-6 (Group 6 third place)

Key players: Vadim Rata (midfielder, FC Sheriff ), Artiom Haceaturov (midfielder, FC Sheriff), Igor Lambarschi (midfielder, FC Academia-UTM Chisinau), Eugen Zasavitchi (forward, CSCT Buiucani Chisinau)

Norway have won none of their five games so far this year, drawing with Sweden, Portugal and Poland and losing 1-0 to Slovakia and 3-1 against Poland. Coach Bård Flovik remains optimistic, however, while forward Mushaga Bakenga scored in Rosenborg BK's first two Tippeligaen games this year. "The team needs to be at its best to qualify, but we have confidence in our ability," said Flovik. "We're aiming to win every match."

Qualifying round: Estonia 0-2, Liechtenstein 5-0, Scotland 4-2 (Group 2 runners-up)

Key players: Valon Berisha (midfielder, Viking FK), Markus Henriksen (midfielder, Rosenborg BK), Mushaga Bakenga (forward, Rosenborg BK), Håvard Nielsen (forward, Vålerenga IF)

Tomislav Sivić was replaced by his former assistant Dejan Govedarica in January and the new coach will be without SC Hereenveen midfielder Filip Djuričić (muscle problem) and FK Crvena Zvezda goalkeeper Marko Dmitrović (illness) for the elite round. Serbia have played two friendlies against Slovakia, losing 1-0 and drawing 1-1, and beat Romania 3-1 on 14 April. Govedarica, a member of the 1998 FIFA World Cup squad, is optimistic. "I'm happy with the condition of my players, because most of them get a game for their clubs," he said. "We've made some changes, especially in attack, and I think we'll be satisfied with them; the Romania match was really good and we must build on that."

Qualifying round: Bulgaria 3-0, Luxembourg 3-0, Republic of Ireland 1-0 (Group 10 winners)

Key players: Uroš Ćosić (defender, FK Crvena zvezda), Andrej Mrkela (attacking midfielder, FK Rad), Filip Malbašić (attacking midfielder, FK Rad), Matija Nastasić (defender, FK Teleoptik)

Wales have lost Tom Bender, Billy Bodin and Adam Matthews due to club commitments but manager Brian Flynn believes they are capable of putting on a good show, saying: "In my six years working at this level, this is the strongest U19 squad we've had and we are hopeful of making a little bit of history." At a recent training camp in northern Spain they drew 0-0 with a Basque XI while ten of the squad were involved as Wales won 1-0 in Andorra at the start of their 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign.

Qualifying round: Turkey 3-3, Iceland 2-1, Kazakhstan 1-1 (Group 1 runners-up)

Key players: Daniel Alfei (defender, Swansea City FC), Lee Lucas (midfielder, Swansea City FC), Elliott Chamberlain (forward, Leicester City FC), Robert Ogleby (forward, Heart of Midlothian FC)

Last updated: 27/04/11 10.59CET

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