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England tipped as team to beat

Published: Monday 17 May 2010, 16.17CET
Czech Republic coach Jiří Štol is tipping opening opponents England as "favourites" to emerge as Under-17 champions on a Group B opening day that also sees Greece face Turkey.
by Paul Saffer
from Vaduz
England tipped as team to beat
Coaches Leonidas Vokolos, Jirí Štol, John Peacock and Abdullah Ercan all hope to lift the trophy on 30 May ©Sportsfile
Published: Monday 17 May 2010, 16.17CET

England tipped as team to beat

Czech Republic coach Jiří Štol is tipping opening opponents England as "favourites" to emerge as Under-17 champions on a Group B opening day that also sees Greece face Turkey.

UEFA European Under-17 Championship Group B opens on Tuesday with the first meeting between Greece and Turkey in a final tournament and the Czech Republic taking on an England team tipped as favourites by their opponents' coach.

England were the only team to win all six of their qualifiers and have three players with experience of last season's finals in Germany. As such, Czech coach Jiří Štol, missing defender Jan Toms through suspension, believes John Peacock's side will take some beating in Vaduz.

"We have very strong opponents in our first match – England in my eyes are favourites to win the tournament," Štol said. "They won all their qualifying matches and we saw on DVD that they have a really strong team. But we will give all we have, the first match is an important one."

Peacock, managing England for the sixth time in the last eight U17 final tournaments, shied away from the "favourites" tag, grateful rather that his side departed on Sunday before the airspace over London was closed due to volcanic ash. Missing the versatile Conor Coady due to a one-game ban, Peacock said: "We always have very tough games against the Czech Republic.

"It's always a good occasion, keenly contested, and this will be no different. I congratulate the Czech Republic, when they lost their first elite round game to Georgia it was always going to be a very tough competition for them to get through and they did it by beating a very good Dutch team in the last game."

Peacock's side were pipped to third in their group last season by Turkey, whose coach Abdullah Ercan has led his nation to the finals again. They go into their fixture with Greece in Eschen-Mauren determined to improve on their 2009 showing.

"I am very happy to be here again in the European Championship," Ercan said. "Last year we promised to be here again, and to be better, and hopefully we will fulfil that promise this year. Every team in our group is good. The start of the tournament is very important and we have tough opponents."

Greece coach Leonidas Vokolos, who is without suspended defenders Spyridon Fourlanos and Mavroudis Bougaidis, does not believe it would be over if they slipped up on Tuesday. "The first game is important because if you have a good result it helps the spirit of the team," he said. "But we will have two more games and whatever happens in the first game we will carry on. Our target is to play like a team in all the games and I hope this game will be good for us."

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Last updated: 17/05/10 17.47CET

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