Game 4 of 5
Wednesday, 26 May, 2010
John Peacock is relishing England’s semi-final showdown with France.
UEFA European U17 Championship
Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz
By Glenn Lavery in Liechtenstein
John Peacock, like every football coach, likes to focus on one game at a time.
He doesn’t like to get carried away with ‘what ifs’ and ‘maybes’ and he doesn’t look too far ahead. He simply deals with the most important game; the next game. It is this mantra that has helped him mastermind England’s route through to the semi-final of the UEFA European U17 Championship, where they will take on France on Thursday afternoon.
However, one message he has constantly relayed to his squad over the last two weeks is that if they are to become the first England side to win the U17 Euros they will have to play five matches; three group games, a semi-final and a Final. For Peacock, tomorrow will hopefully represent game four of five.
“It’s nice to be back in another semi-final,” he said, having led three other U17 sides to this stage of the competition in the past.
“We’ve performed reasonably well so far [but by] our standards we would have liked to have done a little bit better. We’ve done some good things in defence at times and good things in attack. It’s just about marrying the two together.
“I’m pleased in many respects though, I have to say. The good thing is we’ve managed to use all 18 players and it’s been a great experience for all the 18. The opportunity to rotate the players was a bonus for us and I’ve got a great deal of confidence in this squad, so it didn’t really matter who I played. We’ve had three victories and we can’t be disappointed with that.”
Those three victories came against Czech Republic, Greece and Turkey as England topped Group B with a 100 per cent record. They now face a French side who recovered from their opening day defeat to Spain to finish second in Group A, behind the Iberians.
The only previous time England have reached the Final of this competition, in 2007, when they lost 1-0 to Spain, they beat France in the semi-final thanks to Victor Moses’ eleventh-minute strike, an occasion and a result Peacock hopes is replicated in the Rheinpark Stadion in Vaduz.
“2007 was a very tough game, I remember it well,” he said. “We won the game 1-0 but there were a lot of incidents, lots of close calls and we just managed to secure that Final place, so let’s hope it’s the same again.”
More recently, these two nations met in the Algarve Tournament in February, playing out a 1-1 draw and England’s Head Coach is predicting another difficult encounter.
“I know exactly what to expect from France and it will be a tough game. I have to credit the French; I thought they played very well against Spain. There are no great surprises there and I think they’d say the same about us.
“It will just be about [which team] deals with the occasion better. It will be a very competitive match against a side who are of good quality so we’ll need to be at our best to win. But it’s certainly an occasion that we are all looking forward to."