After 15 years of trying, Roland Larsson has led Sweden to their first Under-17 finals, and told UEFA.com: "We are not favourites for the title, but I think we have something very good."
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Roland Larsson has been at the helm of the Sweden Under-17 team since 1998, but only next week will he lead them into a final tournament for the first time.
Sweden were cruising through the elite round, beating Belarus 4-1 and Finland 5-0 but needed an added-time Valmir Berisha equaliser to hold Hungary 1-1 and pip the home side to the finals. Switzerland, Austria and hosts Slovakia await in Group A, and Larsson was in upbeat mood when he spoke to UEFA.com.
UEFA.com: How does it feel to be in the finals?
Roland Larsson: I'm happy, I'm happy to be here, because this is a level that Swedish national teams haven't been at ever. This is a really good opportunity for us to play in the final round.
UEFA.com: Do you think that lack of experience is a disadvantage?
Larsson: Maybe. I think it's really interesting for the boys, because they are looking forward to it and they are very excited. So I think that we are not favourites for the title, but I think we have something very good with this team, so we hope to do well.
UEFA.com: You are going to play the hosts, who often do well, but also lack experience at this level. Do you see that as an advantage?
Larsson: I hoped that we were going to play against Slovakia, because the home nation get a lot of spectators, and that is a good feeling when you have a lot of spectators in a football stadium. So we are looking forward to that. And OK, we are two teams without experience in a final tournament, but I think all the games are tough, and they are going to be very, very hard.
UEFA.com: There are many teams who will not want to play Sweden; in the elite round, you scored ten goals – only Germany scored more, and Germany aren't here ...
Larsson: That's right, and we have, I think, two out of the five top goalscorers in our team. So we are very happy about that, of course.
UEFA.com: Do you believe that this side has the potential to win this tournament?
Larsson: Yes, I think so. We have the potential for a big future for these players, because they are very talented, they work very hard and they are smart.