Italy's dramatic defeat by England brought a thorny end to this campaign but Lisa Alborghetti, one of the next generation of players, believes that with 13 of this squad eligible for next summer's finals in Rimini the outlook is rosy.
Still three weeks shy of her 17th birthday, ACF Brescia Femminile midfielder Alborghetti arrived in Skopje hoping rather than expecting to command a first-team place. Yet she did enough as a half-time substitute in the opening-day defeat by Germany to claim a spot in the starting XI against England on Thursday. She was playing for the U17s last month but made the step-up look seamless before being substituted prior to the hour; she was then forced to watch, helplessly, as the holders came from behind to win 2-1 in the last three minutes.
"We are very sad about the result and how it went, but at the same time this is a good team," she said. "Me and the other girls of 16, 17 have played in Under-17 European qualifiers but this is a different level. You have to run from the first minute to the last – it's more intense. It has been an experience for us, though, to learn what is expected at this level.
We were maybe just too young this time but in the future this could be a great team. We can do well next year."
The road to May/June 2011 and the finals in Rimini starts here, with Corrado Corradini set to turn to his younger players for Sunday's meeting with Scotland. How has Alborghetti enjoyed working with the ebullient coach? "I have really enjoyed it," she replied, struggling to suppress a smile. "I really like the way he interacts with players.
Sometimes he jokes, other times he's serious and he has different ways of getting the best out of players, of knowing how to approach you. It's very different from the norm for coaches."
As if on cue, Corradini pops up and, tongue-in-cheek, tells her not to say anything incriminating. He disappears, re-emerging to talk the 16-year-old through her photo shoot. Alborghetti is in hysterics, but mention her footballing prospects and she, like her trainer, becomes deadly serious. "During the season we only have two or three days training a week, and not very hard. Next year we will hopefully meet as a squad for longer in order to prepare for the finals in Italy, to be at our best. I'm sure we will be."
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