Özdeş and Turkey out to impress in Romania

Turkey coach Kemal Özdeş oversaw a run of five straight wins in qualifying and is convinced there is more to come in Romania, saying: "I believe we are the best team in the finals."

Turkey coach Kemal Özdeş
Turkey coach Kemal Özdeş ©TFF

Turkey's UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying campaign started slowly with a draw against Wales, but after that it was wins all the way – culminating in a defeat of Germany which took Kemal Özdeş's side into the finals in Romania. The coach, however, is convinced still greater achievements lie ahead.

UEFA.com: Are you satisfied with your performance so far?


Kemal Özdeş: In our first training session we specified two targets for the players – first, to be playing for their clubs' senior teams as much as possible; second, to qualify for the finals. We have fulfilled both. Looking through our elite round squad, all the players are getting more minutes in their senior teams compared to previous years, and more competitive football obviously adds quality and power to our team. And of course I'm very pleased we're in the finals after a one-year break.     

UEFA.com: How do you assess your Group B opponents, Serbia, Belgium and Spain?

Özdeş: It's really not important who we were drawn against – all the teams are very good. In the elite round, Serbia were beaten 3-2 by Wales, who we had played in the qualifying round. Belgium won a group containing Portugal while Spain came first in a group featuring both England and Switzerland. I am satisfied with the draw. We need to take the games one at a time and hopefully win them all. We are capable of doing so.

UEFA.com: What are the strengths of your team?

Özdeş: We are very good at playing as a unit. In the past 15 months our philosophy has always been the same – focus on ourselves. Our players are constantly improving and that is very pleasing. One of the most positive attributes of this group is our very good character. That's what I like best. I believe we are the best team in the finals. Most of the players have already taken part in youth competitions and that's important international experience and a big advantage.

UEFA.com: Are there certain areas where your side must improve?

Özdeş: The day before we played Germany in the elite round, I heard a quote from David Villa, who was speaking about the need for continuous improvement and hard work in order to succeed. I shared it with my players. If the world's best forward says that, then our players should work harder to improve themselves and learn more. In the last elite round match, our players were unnecessarily overexcited. We need to know how to properly handle our emotions. This age group is constantly learning and improving. There will certainly be mistakes. It's crucial to identify and correct them.

UEFA.com: How will you prepare for the finals?

Özdeş: Our boys have been playing together for 15 months and they know each other quite well. In the seven-day period before the first match, we'll try to teach the players our tactical strategy. We'll make some changes to our personnel too, as we have a large squad and we'll aim to spot the ones who could reach the senior team in the future. 

UEFA.com: What is your target for the finals?

Özdeş: First, we want to be the most respectful team – we'll respect our opponents, match officials and the fans. In terms of sporting goals, we want to be one of the four teams who qualify from the group stage. Our chances of winning the tournament are stronger than the other competing teams'.