Head Coach John Peacock knows France will be on a revenge mission when they meet on Tuesday.
England v France
UEFA U17 Elite Round Tournament
Tuesday 25 March 2008
Rishon Le Zion, Tel Aviv
John Peacock expects France to be on a revenge mission when his U17 side face their old foe on Tuesday.
The young Lions handed out a 2-0 defeat to their continental rivals at the recent Algarve Tournament and Peacock would dearly love to repeat that result when the two sides meet in the first European Championship Elite Round.
However, the Head Coach is rightly cautious and knows France are worthy opponents with ambitions of topping the qualifying group – a position which carries the prize of a place at the Euros.
"It will be an extremely tough game as it always is against France," he said.
"We won the game 2-0 but on reflection we need to play better. It was great that we managed to not concede as they had a lot of chances. We were resolute in defence. We need to control the game more. They will be trying to get one over us.
"They are a strong force going forward, well organised, good athletes, very physical and have some talented players. We have to be on top of our game.
"We will go in with a positive frame of mind. Getting something out of the game is of paramount importance."
Peacock flew to Israel with the squad on Saturday having spent time training at Bisham Abbey with coaches Kenny Swain and Tony Parks. Under-21 Head Coach Stuart Pearce and his assistant Steve Wigley observed Thursday morning’s session and as a former defender himself, the Nottingham Forest legend would be impressed with the U17s’ run of six consecutive clean sheets.
"That’s a massive factor," said Peacock. "To do that at any level is a great achievement. It would be great to keep that run going for the next week. It’s a solid base to work on. At the other end we have been scoring goals as well. Long may it continue."
Peacock led last year’s U17s to the Final of the European Championship where they lost 1-0 to Spain. Bojan Krkic, the match-winner that day, is currently being heralded at Barcelona after a number of impressive displays for the Catalan giants.
Peacock believes playing in major tournaments is crucial for young players and added that qualification in Tel Aviv – they will also face hosts Israel and Russia – would be a massive boost for all involved.
"I think it’s vital for their long -term development," he insisted. "Having played in that competition last year and then moving on to the World Cup gave the lads a great education. Playing the top teams and top players can only add to their development.
"I would put this group on a par with the group we had last year. They have the ability to get to the Finals in Turkey in May."