|Full UEFA competition record|
|UEFA European Under-19 Championship||87||59||18||10|
|UEFA European Under-18 Championship||105||58||26||21|
Three years after leading France to UEFA European Under-19 Championship glory on home soil, Francis Smerecki is looking for a repeat performance with a new generation of players, with Les Petits Bleus well set up for a good campaign in Lithuania.
Yassine Benzia – who has been getting regular games with Olympique Lyonnais this season – scored the crucial goal as France beat hosts Austria 1-0 in their final Elite round Group 1 fixture to secure their place in the final tournament. It was his fourth qualifying goal, but France are strong in every department, their unbeaten campaign characterised no less by Quentin Beunardeau's unflappable performances in goal and the form of midfielder Adrien Rabiot, who played in the UEFA Champions League with Paris Saint-Germain FC this season.
"The class of '94 are dedicated, but they cannot rely on any one individual to make the difference," said Smerecki, whose side kept three clean sheets in the elite round. "The lads will have to show their togetherness. Success will only come from teamwork and avoiding mistakes."
Key players: Quentin Beunardeau (goalkeeper, Le Mans FC), Adrien Rabiot (midfielder, Toulouse FC), Lucas Rougeaux (defender, OGC Nice), Yassine Benzia (striker, Olympique Lyonnais)
Coach: Francis Smerecki
Date of birth: 25 July 1949
Playing career: CO Pontlieue, Le Mans UC, Stade Lavallois, Paris FC, Limoges FC
Coaching career: Limoges FC, US Dunkerque, Valenciennes FC, EA Guingamp, Le Havre AC, AS Nancy-Lorraine, Stade Lavallois, France U20, France U16, France U19, France U18
A midfielder with hometown club Le Mans, Francis Smerecki subsequently had spells at Laval, Paris and Limoges, moving into coaching with the latter side in 1984. After five years with Dunkerque, he joined Valenciennes and in 1991/92 led them back into Ligue 1, only to be sacked a few months later. However, that led to his appointment at third division Guingamp, who within three years of his 1993 arrival were in the top flight and UEFA Intertoto Cup winners. The following season they reached their first French Cup final, only losing on penalties to OGC Nice.
Leaving in 1999 for Le Havre, Smerecki suffered relegation and was unable to win promotion with either Nancy or Laval. He joined the French Football Federation (FFF) in 2004 as Under-20 coach and in 2006 was part of the senior set-up before taking the U17 team to the European final in 2008. He then led France to U19 glory on home soil in 2010, leading the same side to the semi-final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup the following year.
Qualifying top scorer
4: Yassine Benzia
UEFA European Under-19 Championship best
Winners 2005, 2010
Honours in UEFA youth competitions
UEFA European Under-17 Championship
Runners-up 2002, 2008
UEFA European Under-18 Championship
Winners 1983, 1996, 1997, 2000
UEFA European Under-16 Championship
Runners-up 1996, 2001
International Youth Tournament (U18)
Runners-up 1950, 1968
FIFA U-17 World Cup
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