After coming within touching distance of qualifying for the 2010 UEFA European Women's Under-17 final tournament, only to be edged out by Iceland, Poland coach Zbigniew Witkowski is determined to make history with his side this year.
Up against Norway and the Republic of Ireland, who inflicted defeats last season, as well as home team Austria in Group 2 of the second qualifying round, Poland have their work cut out, but Witkowski is certain his side have what it takes to be among the final four.
UEFA.com: How is the morale before the qualifying group in Austria?
Zbigniew Witkowski: Great. Everyone is focused on our goal, which is qualifying to be among the top four in Europe. We have a really strong team which is capable of achieving that. We are all convinced that this is the moment to make this historical step and play, for the very first time, in the Stade Colovray in Nyon in the final tournament.
UEFA.com: How have preparations gone?
Witkowski: Our training camps were planned so it looked like the tournament itself. We played, then had one day off, then another game before two days off and a final game. We played against strong senior teams with lots of national team players in their squads. Due to that we are able to believe that now we can win against opposition from Austria, Ireland and Norway. We are obviously aware that these countries are stronger than us when it comes to their quantity of female players, but we are motivated and we have faith, and in every game we will fight for victory.
UEFA.com: Are the team ready for the challenge?
Witkowski: Of course a friendly will never be a competitive game, and we are definitely lacking international games. However, the staff's task is to make the players believe that they are capable of winning, and they really do believe! If we play at our normal level, I am sure everything will be good.
UEFA.com: Last year you lost all three games at this stage. What went wrong then, and how do you avoid those mistakes this time?
Witkowski: Last year we lost to Norway and Ireland but those were very even games. France were far beyond our reach. But we have improved and now, in every game, we want to take control from the beginning and not wait for an opponent to show what they have got. Thanks to that, games are going to go our way.
UEFA.com: Do you have unfinished business with Ireland and Norway?
Witkowski: I am really glad we have the opportunity to gain some small revenge! It is an additional motivator, but I would like to add one thing. Every year we maintain the same high level. We are very solid team but this year we want to achieve something more.
UEFA.com: Do you think you players in your team who will reach the pinnacle of European women's football in the future?
Witkowski: Definitely. There are at least five girls who will play in the senior national team. Generally our players have great potential and a great mentality. These girls have the ability to achieve a lot in women's football, not only in Poland, but with strong European clubs.
UEFA.com: Are you optimistic of making the final tournament?
Witkowski: Of course. I do not want to declare that we will qualify to the final, because that would be insane. But I want to be clear that this year we want this more, and the only goal is to play in Nyon in the final tournament. We can do it!
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