By Sami Terävä
Michael Käld and Juha Kajander have agreed new contracts to coach Finland having led them to the UEFA European Women's Championship in England - and have vowed to reach the semi-finals next June.
Finland will be competing in their first major senior final tournament - the only new qualifiers in the eight-team competition. Having defeated Russia over two legs to reach the finals, Käld admitted that he wanted the side to achieve even more.
"There is no point going to England without aiming for the semi-finals," said Käld, who like his assistant is now contracted for 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying and for the final tournament in China should Finland gain a place. "If we do not say this aloud, we will surely get eliminated after the three group matches. The semis must be our target."
The group stage draw takes place in Manchester on 19 January, and Käld revealed the teams he would like to face. "For us, the ideal opponents would be Sweden, England and France," he said.
Pressure on hosts
"Sweden we know very well, as we have played against them on a regular basis. England are the host team, and they will surely feel the pressure in front of their home crowd. Football's coming home - and that will definitely build up the expectations. France would suit us, as they take their time before going forward after winning the ball."
Kalmari marks progress
Laura Kalmari, who recently left Umeå IK for the side that ended their reign as both Swedish and European champions - Djurgården/Älvsjö - shared her coach's optimism. "
I have seen this team's progress, which has been huge," said the 77-times capped player. "During the past few years we have improved in all aspects of the game. Personally, my move to Sweden's Damallsvenskan has done my game good. It is great to see that you can improve as you grow older!"
Käld will hold a 25-player training camp at the Eerikkilä Sports Institute from 12-14 January, and the squad will have a get-together every month prior to the start of the finals on 5 June.
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