After edging out the likes of Sweden and the Czech Republic in the second qualifying round, Switzerland hope to claim other big scalps when the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship gets under way in Emilia-Romagna later this month. "We sprung a few surprises during the qualifying campaign and we hope to spring some more in the finals," coach Yannick Schwery told UEFA.com.
Switzerland will take on hosts Italy, Russia, and Belgium in Group A and according to their coach their target is at least to reach the semi-finals and qualify for the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. "It would be huge for my players to have the opportunity to play another great tournament like this one," said Schwery, whose side meet Belgium in their opening group game on 30 May. "I think all the teams here want to at least reach the semi-finals and we are among them."
Even if his side avoided Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and Spain in the group stage draw in Cervia, Schwery believes that both pools are very balanced and rates Italy among the favorites to win the tournament. "I think that there are eight teams here and they are all very good," he said. "It's great to be here and I think that every team has the same chance of doing well. Germany and Norway are certainly great teams in the other group, but in my opinion Italy are the favourites for the tournament. They are playing at home, they will have a lot of support and they will be eager to achieve something important on home soil."
Switzerland will face their transalpine neighbours on 2 June and it is a game Schwery is clearly anticipating with relish. "I'm happy that we are playing Italy because there will be a lot of people watching the game and I'm sure there will be a nice atmosphere at the stadium," said the 40-year-old. "Every game, however, will be a special opportunity for the players because you gain priceless experience by taking part in these tournaments."
In 2009 Switzerland defeated Germany en route to the last four with striker Ramona Bachmann earning the plaudits as one of the brightest stars of the tournament in Belarus, and although Swiss striker Cora Canetta has impressed with six goals in five qualifying matches, Schwery insists that a strong team unit will be the key to success in Italy this time around. "We are not a team with one or two stars," he said. "There are 18 players who are roughly at the same level but most of all they are very good as a group. We are a very united team and this is very important."
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