Having all expressed their delight at reaching the tenth UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Bucharest, the coaches of Serbia, Belgium, Turkey and Spain outlined their respective ambitions for what is certain to be a keenly-contested Group B.
Returning to the tournament after a five-year absence, Belgium face a tough start on Wednesday with four-time winners Spain their opponents in Mogosoaia. At the Stadionul Berceni, meanwhile, Serbia meet Turkey and the former will be hoping for a repeat of the 1-0 win they enjoyed when the teams met at this stage two years ago.
Serbia coach Dejan Govedarica highlighted "team spirit" as the strength he hopes will help his team through. "The first game in any tournament is always the most important and I expect us to give everything we have; we will be hoping for a good performance and a good result,” he said. Without the suspended Darko Brašanac, Uroš Čosić and Nenad Lukić, Govedarica said the 2006 and 2009 semi-finalists were nevertheless in high spirits, adding: "Our first impressions here are fantastic – from the accommodation and the training pitches to the stadiums, everything is perfect."
Kemal Özdeş, meanwhile, expected a "colourful and charming" tournament while targeting a place in the last four for his Turkey side. "Our style is very similar to that of Serbia so it will be a very interesting match," he continued. "Added to that we both have players suspended [Turkey are without Nadir Çiftçi, Furkan Şeker and Şervan Taştan] which increases the challenge. We believe if you can execute your ideas on the pitch then normally the result you are hoping for will come." His team won their last five qualification games en route to Romania, leaving Özdeş believing Turkey have just as much chance of lifting the title on 1 August as the rest of the field. "I trust in my players but every side here has the chance to win."
Pointing out that "confidence grows with the right results," Belgium's Marc Van Geersom stated that the outcome of the Red Devils' opener against Spain would go a long way to deciding his team's fate. "If you start well you are obviously up and running so I am waiting to see how my players respond [to the challenge]," he said. "As always the objective is that our boys learn something from this competition.
The level of opposition we have here is very good and because of that we have the possibility to educate and give our players some great experience."
Ginés Meléndez knows only too well what it takes to win this event having been part of Spain's successes in 2004, 2006 and 2007. "My hopes are to play a good tournament and to help these young guys to grow and step up to Under-21 level and from there on to the senior side. The players in our recent Under-21 European Championship-winning squad all passed through previous UEFA tournaments so I'd like to congratulate the organisers for putting together these types of tournaments which help so much in player development," he said. "Belgium have been working incredibly well recently and will be very difficult opponents on Wednesday."
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