Torske plots Norway's final destination
Monday, 19 March 2012
After finishing runners-up four times, Norway coach Jarl Torske is aiming to make it fifth-time lucky this summer – but he knows his side must first negotiate the second round.
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Norway coach Jarl Torske believes his current crop has even more potential than the youthful squad that reached the showpiece last summer, but for now he is looking no further than the second qualifying round that begins on 31 March.
Portugal, the Czech Republic and a Belgium side that contested last season's final tournament lie between Norway and a place in July's UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship. The road does not appear too treacherous, but Torske is too savvy to fall victim to complacency – this is, after all, his 12th campaign in this competition.
"There are more teams who are doing well," he told UEFA.com. "You can lose against any of the top 20 in Europe if things are not working for you. The level and standard of matches is getting tougher, tighter; there are no easy matches. Still, at least we were ranked high enough to avoid Germany."
They will have been especially keen to, with memories of Norway's 8-1 final defeat by Maren Meinert's charges last summer all too raw. At the time, Torske said he was "embarrassed and humiliated", but in the cold light of day he has been able to apply a more positive slant. "All in all, when we look on this tournament, we are very pleased with what we did.
"Before that terrible second half against Germany, we beat the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, and we also put in a good performance against Germany in the opener [eventually losing 3-1]. Overall I think it was a good way of developing the players, giving them confidence. We just have to be even better next time we meet Germany."
That reunion may well come in the final tournament in Turkey this summer. "Some of key players from 2011 are still in the squad," said Torske, whose side beat Italy and Iceland 2-1 before losing by the same scoreline to Denmark in La Manga at the beginning of March. "I think we might see a more possession-orientated squad, but we will keep our direct style. I think we have a good team this year. Our chances of getting through to the finals are pretty good.
"Then, if you reach the final round then of course you want medals; and if you get to the final, you want the gold. I have been in four finals now and have four silver medals! It would be lovely to one day get a gold, but the most important aspect of this is developing the players."
Norway kick off their second qualifying round campaign against Belgium on 31 March.