The state of the women's game in Italy was on coach Corrado Corradini's agenda when he spoke to UEFA.com, and he expressed high hopes for a new generation of talent.
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Women's football in Italy may be in a state of flux, but Corrado Corradini remained defiant about the dedication and diligence shown by the current crop of talent when he spoke to UEFA.com after the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship second qualifying round draw.
"Unfortunately, we have a very small number of players to pick from," Corradini said in Nyon in November. "Following the World Cup in Japan in August we have been working with a new group of players. I think the players we have now are at a very good level. We have defenders [Elena] Linari and [Carolina] Cannone as well as midfielder Cecilia Re. In attack, we have several American-born players, who are physically very strong but still trying to get to grips with Italian football."
Besides having a limited pool of U19 players at his disposal, Corradini is also contending with a widening disparity in the standards of women's club football in Italy and in the rest of Europe. "There is a huge difference," admitted the 68-year-old. "In Europe, the girls' quality is already proven at a high level, while in Italy, the quality of club football is not as good. The pace at which the game is played is completely different."
Despite his obvious frustrations, Corradini – who has lost just nine of his 48 matches in charge of the U19 side in UEFA competition – evidently enjoys nurturing new talent. "The players work with great intensity, they are very intelligent and ready to make a name for themselves," he said. "We have to work hard to allow them to understand the concepts of European football."
Winners of the UEFA European Women's U19 Championship in 2008, Italy face a tough task to reclaim that title after being drawn in an uncompromising second qualifying round section, including holders Sweden, Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland. They begin their Group 1 campaign away to Ireland on 4 April.