"The biggest challenge of my footballing life" was Poland coach Marcin Dorna's take on the 2017 Under-21 finals, which moved closer with Thursday's qualifying draw.
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The 2017 UEFA European Under-21 Championship advanced a small step closer with Thursday's qualifying group stage draw in Nyon. For Marcin Dorna, coach of finals hosts Poland, witnessing the draw live heightened the excitement about what awaits his country in three summers' time.
UEFA.com: Although you attended the draw, it must have felt different with Poland not directly involved.
Marcin Dorna: Definitely – my adrenaline levels were much lower than during the last draw, when my team were in the hat. But I didn't just watch the draw. We had plenty of other things to do – we spoke to lots of people and set up some interesting friendlies.
Although there are two years to go to the finals, we already have our preparations in place and the visit to Nyon has helped a lot. We provisionally agreed to play some interesting friendlies, this year and next – for example against Germany, England and Sweden.
UEFA.com: What will it mean to you to take part in the U21 finals as coach of the host nation?
Dorna: It is the biggest challenge of my coaching life – we're speaking about a very important tournament. Look at the names of the players who took part and shone in past U21 EUROs: Mata, Neuer, Khedira, Özil.
This is the tournament where we see the rising stars of European football, or even players who are already key figures in the game. To have such big names in my country, and to face them on the field, is a marvellous opportunity for me as a coach.
UEFA.com: Poland did not qualify for the 2015 finals in the Czech Republic, so is the motivation to do well in 2017 even greater?
Dorna: It's already huge. When you face great teams you do everything to show you are at their level. Of course, our recent qualifying result was painful but we must forget about it. There is a great tournament ahead of us which is another big chance for Polish football. We did very well as UEFA EURO 2012 hosts, and EURO 2017 is another opportunity both to promote Poland and to stage the best of European football.
It will be a tournament for players born in 1994 or later. Some of them are already, say, Real Madrid players and others will emerge in the meantime. It will be a fiesta for Polish football fans. They will not have to Google the players they watch from the stands, as they will already know them from the top leagues in the world.