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Day one at #U19EURO: Group A preview

The 14th UEFA European Under-19 Championship begins in Greece on Monday, with the hosts taking on Ukraine and Austria meeting two-time winners France.

The four Group A coaches: (l-r) Hermann Stadler (Austria), Patrick Gonfalone (France), Giannis Goumas (Greece) and Olexandr Holovko (Ukraine)
The four Group A coaches: (l-r) Hermann Stadler (Austria), Patrick Gonfalone (France), Giannis Goumas (Greece) and Olexandr Holovko (Ukraine) ©Sportsfile

Greece v Ukraine (19.30CET, Veria)
Greece
U19 best: runners-up 2007, 2012
Last U19 finals: 2012 (runners-up)

Giannis Goumas, coach
"Our preparations have gone smoothly. We've not played any competitive matches this season so we've had a lot of friendlies to keep the players in the best possible physical and mental condition. It's not been easy, but I think we'll be 100% ready for these tough matches.

It's very important, at this tough moment for our country, that we all give the maximum to succeed. The whole situation in Greece is affecting everyone, but we have to make sure the players focus. It's a chance to give people in Greece something to celebrate and we're aiming to help the players do that. I don't know if we'll achieve something significant, but our main target is to fight from the first to the last minute.

All the teams that have qualified are very strong; they've come through two qualifying rounds and they're the best in Europe. They're great teams and the players have very good individual skills. We're focusing on ourselves because we have to prove that we deserve to be here – not just as hosts but also as a football team."

Ukraine
U19 best: winners 2009
Last U19 finals: 2014 (group stage)

Greece coach Giannis Goumas (left) and Olexandr Holovko of Ukraine
Greece coach Giannis Goumas (left) and Olexandr Holovko of Ukraine©Sportsfile

Olexandr Holovko, coach
"It's a big honour for us to participate in such a big tournament. In this tournament, it's very important for the boys to show their qualities. We're going to give everyone a chance to show what they can do, their characters and abilities. Who knows, they could go on to play in the A team in the years ahead.

There are three significant things [that have improved Ukrainian youth football]. There's the quality of education in academies, which means that all the boys get their education in the Premier League. Secondly, the political situation in Ukraine means many foreign players have left and that has given the homegrown players more of a chance to play in the first teams at their clubs. Thirdly, the majority of the boys have played in the UEFA Youth League."

Austria v France (20.00CET, Katerini)
Suspended: Lukas Tursch (Austria), Olivier Kemen, Neal Maupay (France)

Austria
U19 best: semi-finals 2003, 2006, 2014
Last U19 finals: 2014 (semi-finals)

Hermann Stadler of Austria
Hermann Stadler of Austria©Sportsfile

Hermann Stadler, coach
"We're proud to be here, among the eight best teams in Europe. This is our third final tournament of the year and we'll try to be worthy representatives of Austria. We have to be at our very best in all three games, take it one match at a time and see what happens.

The most important thing is the development of the players, and from an Austrian point of view team spirit is our most important quality – that's why we've participated in three final tournaments already in 2015."

France
U19 best: winners 2005, 2010
Last U19 finals: 2013 (runners-up)

France's Patrick Gonfalone
France's Patrick Gonfalone©Sportsfile

Patrick Gonfalone, coach
"These are great conditions in which to play good football. Our main aim in preparation has been working on the players' physical condition. The clubs have been preparing our players as it's their pre-season, which means we've not had much time with them, but we'll do the best we can.

This is the continuation of our work over several years. Our main aim is to bring players through; if we can win titles, of course we're happy with that and we're very pleased with what the U17s achieved [winning the European Championship in May], but our objective is not to win one title in ten years; it's to be in the last four every single year. That's the most important thing for us." 

Follow @UEFAcom and @UEFAcomAndrewH for updates from Greece and join the conversation using #U19EURO.

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