Basse-Normandie AMA knocked out the UEFA Regions' Cup holders in qualifying and they are now aiming to become the first French winners of the amateur trophy.
Having overcome holders Vasca AMA in qualifying to earn their place in the UEFA Regions' Cup finals in Bulgaria, Basse-Normandie AMA are eager to become the first French winners of what coach Patrick Gonfalone calls "the amateur UEFA Cup".
With their domestic seasons all finished, Gonfalone has stuck with the squad that earned them a place in Bulgaria. "I wanted to reward them", said Gonfalone, a former professional player and assistant Under-21 coach. "Once again we'll be the outsiders in the competition against home team Bulgaria who have players good enough to play in second or third tier in France. Bosnia-Herzegovina are a strong team too and Northern Ireland are more or less at our level."
Basse-Normandie had not played together since winning their intermediary round mini-tournament on home soil last October. They regrouped at the start of June to begin preparations for the finals, and were then asked to rest and keep their fitness ahead of the big kick-off. "We'll try to behave as professionally as we can," said Gonfalone. "And at the end maybe we will create a big surprise."
Gonfalone's side range in age from 18 to 33 years old. He scoured the Basse-Normandie region relentlessly to pick out the best amateur talent in his area and is delighted with what he found. "I have a fantastic squad," he said. "They are totally open to my orders. It's a pleasure to coach them, as it will be a pleasure to play in this tournament for them. It can only be positive for them and me."