Having not qualified for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship since 2007, Ilídio Vale has told Portugal to take it one match at a time as they attempt to make an impact in France.
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Ilídio Vale has told Portugal to take it one match at a time as they look to make an impact at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship after ending a three-year exile from the final tournament. Runners-up in 2003, the Iberian side have struggled to reach the latter stages of the competition in recent years and had missed out on the finals altogether since 2007, but an impressive qualifying campaign which brought five wins – one against neighbours and four-time champions Spain – should send Portugal to Basse-Normandie in good heart.
UEFA.com: You're in Group B alongside Spain, Italy and Croatia. What do you make of that?
Ilídio Vale: There were eight strong teams in the draw so we knew we would get three of them whatever happened. We just have to make sure that we start well and see what happens from there. It's difficult to know which is the hardest group; all the teams have a lot of quality. The games will tell us which group is the strongest.
UEFA.com: Does it make a difference that you beat Spain in the qualifying round?
Vale: That game is history; I'm only worried about now. It will be very different this time round. It's a final tournament, not qualifying, and I expect there will be a lot of different players.
UEFA.com: What are your targets for this summer?
Vale: Our first objective is to beat Italy. Beyond that, we know there's a lot to aim for but we're not going to change our philosophy. We're going to take it match by match and see how we do. We know what our objectives are, but we're not going to change our way of working and how we approach the tournament.
UEFA.com: Portugal have not qualified for these finals since 2007; how important is it that this team has ended that run?
Vale: It's always crucial to play in these competitions. It's the elite – the best eight teams in Europe. It's important for the players and coaches and it's vital that Portuguese football is represented here.
UEFA.com: What is the mood like in your camp going into the tournament?
Vale: We have a lot of confidence. We really believe in our work and we have as good a chance as anyone else now.