Second best will not do for determined Belgium

Reaching the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship finals is an achievement in itself for Belgium but head coach Jean-Marie Greven is now setting his sights much higher.

Nina Vindevoghel vies with Lithuania's Kamilė Vaičiulaitytė in qualifying
Nina Vindevoghel vies with Lithuania's Kamilė Vaičiulaitytė in qualifying ©Valdas Knyzelis/

Jean-Marie Greven has overseen a minor revolution for Belgian women's football since being appointed national Under-21 and U19 coach two years ago. The latest milestone came as his charges booked their place at the UEFA European Women's U19 Championship for only the second time, victory over Russia sealing their progress as best runners-up. Yet, as he tells, the 50-year-old already has his sights on Belgium's next landmark: silverware. How do you feel after qualifying for only the second time in Belgium's history?

Jean-Marie Greven: I'm just proud of my team and colleagues. As a coach it's my job to prepare the team, line them up the right way and develop individual players as well as the team. When that brings qualification for a final tournament, and above all good football, then my mission is accomplished. What do you think of the group you are in, with hosts Italy, Russia and Switzerland?

Greven: Every team that has qualified for the final tournament deserves the utmost respect. There are no easier or harder groups and to win the tournament every team has to be beaten. We would like to be European champions. Did you expect to qualify with this team?

Greven: As in any qualifying campaign I was aiming for the final tournament. I have confidence in the qualities of this generation of players. They are determined to go in the same direction together, to reach their goal. That goal is to playing attractive, intelligent football. There's still room for improvement at every level – nothing is ever so good that it cannot be improved. Being satisfied leads to stagnation. How important is this qualification for the development of women's football in Belgium?

Greven: It would be a big mistake if the development of women's football in Belgium was based solely on results like this. Over the past two years we've put enormous effort into promoting the women's game – this success is a reflection of those efforts. The tournament will help the girls in their general development, not only in terms of sport.