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Hřebík hopeful of Czech challenge

Jaroslav Hřebík is optimistic his Czech Republic side can make their mark in Romania although he accepts the need to find a regular goalscorer and to hit the ground running in Group A.

Czech Republic coach Jaroslav Hřebík
Czech Republic coach Jaroslav Hřebík ©ČMFS

Jaroslav Hřebík has seen most things in a coaching career that started in earnest almost 20 years ago, yet the 62-year-old is embracing the new challenge posed by the UEFA European Under-19 Championship as he attempts to build on the Czech Republic's respectable record in the competition with hosts Romania, Greece and the Republic of Ireland awaiting in Group A.

UEFA.com: What can fans expect from the Czech Republic?

Jaroslav Hřebík: We would like to achieve our goals with positive play – to dominate possession, create more chances than our opponents and, last but not least, convert them. This was our weak point in qualifying. Although we had more attacks than our opponents in virtually every match, we scored only six goals in as many games.

UEFA.com: Those six goals came from six different players – is that proof of a variety of attacking options or the absence of a genuine goalscorer?

Hřebík: We have just two players in this squad who could fill that role of goalscorer. Unfortunately Matěj Vydra from Udinese Calcio and Sparta Praha's Václav Kadlec will probably not be at the tournament due to club commitments. It seems that young players who don't have experience in their senior league have trouble scoring at international level.

UEFA.com: Do any of your players represent clubs abroad?

Hřebík: Yes, central defender Tomáš Kalas from Chelsea will be included and I hope Celtic midfielder Filip Twardzik will be fit, although he will return from a trip to Australia only a couple days before the tournament.

UEFA.com: What is the strong point of the squad?

Hřebík: We are a united, disciplined team that is full of character. Most of the players are versatile. They have to be, as we have just an 18-man squad for the finals and during the tournament we could have injuries and suspensions to deal with.

UEFA.com: You opened your qualifying campaign with a 1-0 defeat by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and ended it with victories over the Netherlands and Israel. What changed along the way?

Hřebík: Some new players came into the team, although the difference is not as big as it looks. As you have the squad together for only a few days a month, there is little room to change anything. The first game after a long interval is always a problem for us as we need time to settle. This is why we want a dress rehearsal against a league side in order to be at full speed from the first game in Romania.

UEFA.com: Are you satisfied with the draw?

Hřebík: Honestly, I am a little disappointed as I wanted Spain in our group. They play the best football across all age catagories at the moment and to play against them is the big experience. They are clear favourites for the finals.

UEFA.com: What is your aim for the tournament given the Czechs reached the semi-finals in 2003, 2006 and 2008?

Hřebík: We want to win and to take pleasure in our play, but each team will want the same. Whoever gets among the top eight sides in Europe, in whatever category, must have a strong squad. Key personalities, who are above the others, make the difference. Our opponents have them and I hope we do too.

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