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Group A preview: 'The highest ambitions'

"This isn't a happy holiday camp – all the teams here are trying to achieve," said Eastern Region IRL boss Gerry Smith, a view which all of his Group A rivals in Dublin subscribe to.

Group A coaches Gerard Smith, Dževad Šećerbegović, Stanislav Schwarz and Mustafa Özer
Group A coaches Gerard Smith, Dževad Šećerbegović, Stanislav Schwarz and Mustafa Özer ©Sportsfile

Gerry Smith (Eastern Region IRL)
Has the quality of the team at the UEFA Regions' Cup been improving over the years? Oh, there's no doubt about it – different styles, different systems, different builds on the players. You get strong players, technically good, but they can all look after themselves – not easily pushed off the ball, and our fellers have come on like that as well. The fact that we lost in the final in 2011 is yesterday's news – it's all over and done with. It's history – and most of the players here weren't at that tournament so they're not worried about 2011.

Anybody who gets to these finals has got to be treated with the utmost respect. Come Saturday week, there's only going to be one team taking the trophy – and they need an element of luck. They need to have everyone playing well. It's a long hard week for amateur players. This isn't a happy holiday camp – all the teams here are trying to achieve.

Mustafa Özer (Ankara, TUR)
In the draw, I told my assistant that I wanted the strongest team in the first match, and ideally the home team – and that's what we got. It's better to start at full pelt. Our aim is first to represent our country, and amateur football in our country, then it's fair play and then lastly to win it.

Ankara won a domestic tournament for Turkey's 14 regions – this is a strong footballing region. The main difference between amateurs and professionals is basically mentality – I saw the quality of amateur football in the intermediate round, and these are very strong teams. Players in my team are being courted by professional clubs – maybe two or three could play abroad – and contributing something to their future is a great thing.

Stanislav Schwarz (South Moravia, CZE)
Some great teams have won this tournament in the past, and we are proud to be in this competition. Having qualified for the finals we have the highest ambitions: we are dreaming of coming home with a medal. The quality of this tournament rises year by year. We know the coaches who won this tournament with Moravia in 2001, but it is a much harder competition to win now.

I want the guys to leave with fond memories of these finals. They have never played professional football, but we try to act as professionally as possible. Maybe they don't get it right now, but as this tournament goes on, the players will start to get a handle on what they have achieved, and what this tournament means for them and for Czech football.

Dževad Šećerbegović (Tuzla, BIH)
All the teams are here to win. We want to do ourselves justice, but we also want to enjoy the occasion and the games we play. Tuzla ended up with bronze medals in the 2007 finals, but I was not coach at that time and most of the current team were not involved. We are here representing the Tuzla region, but our main mission is to represent our country, and we are proud to be here on behalf of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

It will be special to take on Ankara, of course. I was a very successful player at Beşiktaş in Turkey and I have a lot of friends over there. Coaching amateur footballers is a bit different to playing professional football, but everything I learned in my career has gone into helping this team.

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