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Coaches keep cool in Women's U17 Group B

There were no signs of nerves from the coaches of France, Germany, Scotland or Spain when they spoke to the media on the eve of the inaugural eight-team tournament.

Group B coaches Pauline Hamill, Guy Ferrier, Anouschka Bernhard and Jorge Vilda
Group B coaches Pauline Hamill, Guy Ferrier, Anouschka Bernhard and Jorge Vilda ©Sportsfile

The four Group B coaches exhibited no signs of nerves when they addressed media inquisitors on the eve of the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship in England.

Indeed, Scotland could have been forgiven a hint of trepidation having been drawn alongside European heavyweights France, Germany and Spain on their U17 finals bow. There was not a glimmer, however, as coach Pauline Hamill – the first woman to win 100 caps – exuded the sort of confidence and gritty determination that served her so well during a distinguished playing career.

"This is our first finals and we're so excited to be a part of it," she said. "Everyone is looking forward to the matches. The only pressure is that which we put on ourselves because we've improved a lot this year and we want to take the next step. We need to recognise that we're probably playing the best three sides in Europe, so we need to be realistic. It's something that will stay with the players forever."

Three-time champions Germany, who represent Scotland's first formidable obstacle on Tuesday, arrive in England under a familiar cloud of expectation, yet coach Anouschka Bernhard is not feeling the heat. "We are delighted to be here and taking part in the first tournament for eight teams," she explained. "We have a great record at this level, a very successful one that we want to prolong.

"All the teams here have the same goal – to achieve a top-three finish – and all the coaches want to improve their sides. There is no special pressure on us. Our main goal is to bring on the players so they're playing at a level which will push them towards the senior team."

Much is expected of France, too, after they lifted the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup. Guy Ferrier is too savvy to fall victim to complacency, though, and is still perusing an educational path for his side. "Participating in this tournament means a great deal for the girls," he said. "It helps by giving them experience to go a long way in their careers – it's an education at a high level. We play to get better – that's what we've done since 2012. Our objective is to play well, learn new things and develop our game."

An uncompromising lineup is completed by Spain, who landed back-to-back U17 titles in 2010 and 2011. "It's a pleasure to be here and we are extremely happy," enthused coach Jorge Vilda, whose side have been drilled to build patiently from the back. "We will always play the same way, which has been successful. We want to maintain possession and pressure the opposition without the ball. This should see us achieve some decent results."

Group B fixtures
Tuesday: Germany v Scotland, France v Spain
Friday: Germany v France, Scotland v Spain
Monday: Spain v Germany, Scotland v France