Antonio Cabrini wants Italy to show their mettle in Wednesday's UEFA Women's EURO 2013 Group A opener against a Finland team eager to get started in Halmstad.
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Antonio Cabrini cut a defiant figure as he spelled out the challenge for Italy ahead of Wednesday's UEFA Women's EURO 2013 opener against Finland in Halmstad.
The 1982 FIFA World Cup winner and former Juventus defender – named as Pietro Ghedin's successor in May – was under no illusions about the size of the task facing his players but nonetheless urged them to get tough in a tricky section also containing hosts Sweden and Denmark. Finland coach Andrée Jeglertz, meanwhile, expects his ebullient team to flourish in Group A so long as they exhibit the "courage and bravery to play at this level".
Antonio Cabrini, Italy coach
The team has improved in every aspect during this last month of preparation, which was aimed at these EUROs. The girls have responded well to what has been some intense work.
The qualification campaign was great with a number of good results and excellent defensive performances. Of course the finals are far different from the qualifiers. It means meeting teams from the highest level who will certainly cause us more problems. There is no doubt that we'll face difficulties and opponents who are in better shape than us, but we're here to challenge everyone.
It would not be right to draw up a list of those who are strongest in the group. We all start on a par and we certainly won't think like that because Finland are as worthy opponents as Sweden and Denmark are. We'll try to get through, while keeping great respect for our opponents.
Tomorrow, we have the chance to play well and make a good start. I want us to be strong but above all I would like the girls to show no fear against anyone. We are here to compete and cause problems for the teams we face.
P10 W9 D1 L0 F35 A0
6 March: L2-4 v England (Cyprus Cup group, Nicosia)
8 March: L0-2 v New Zealand (Cyprus Cup group, Larnaca)
11 March: L1-2 v Scotland (Cyprus Cup group, Larnaca)
13 March: W1-0 v South Korea (Cyprus Cup 9th place, Dasaki Achna)
7 April: W2-1 v Austria (a, St Veit an der Glan)
Defender Elisabetta Tona will play no part in UEFA Women's EURO 2013 after tearing a muscle in her leg during training. Otherwise coach Cabrini has a full compliment of players at his disposal.
Andrée Jeglertz, Finland coach
We've had an exceptionally good three weeks. I was asked the question after the game against Switzerland three weeks ago if we were ready and I said 'no'. We needed these weeks and now I think we are ready. The team are very excited and anxious to get started.
The most important thing is the Italy game and that's all we're talking about. For some of the players, it is their first experience of this kind of environment and it's important every player is able to play at their maximum and that we get everything out of them on the field.
They must have the courage and bravery to play at this level and come together as a team. If we can do that, we will do well. We know Italy are a very good team. We followed their progress during the spring and know what to expect.
The players and coaches need to focus on one game at a time. There are three games in the group phase and our main target is to reach the quarter-finals. What matters now is three points against Italy tomorrow.
P8 W6 D1 L1 F22 A4
14 February: W5-0 v Russia (h, Eerikkila)
6 March: D1-1 v Netherlands (Cyprus Cup group, Larnaca)
8 March: L1-2 v Canada (Cyprus Cup group, Nicosia)
11 March: L2-3 v Switzerland (Cyprus Cup group, Larnaca)
13 March: W1-0 v Republic of Ireland (Cyprus Cup 7th place, Paralimni)
4 April: D0-0 v Slovakia (a, Senec)
7 April: L1-3 v Slovakia (a, Senec)
1 June: L0-3 v France (a, Valenciennes)
19 June: D2-2 Switzerland (h, Helsinki)
Finland have no fresh injury concerns after Linda Sällström and captain Maja Saari pulled out of the tournament last month.
When the teams met in 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying, Italy were held 1-1 at home but won 3-1 in Vantaa to top the group and earn a play-off chance.
Did you know?
Italy have never failed to make the last eight of a Women's EURO and were runners-up in 1993 and 1997.