Brian Eastick reflects on a long season which resulted in qualification for the European Championships.
UEFA European U19 Championships
Prague & Liberec, Czech Republic
14-26 July 2008
Click here for fixtures and results
England U19s Head Coach Brian Eastick reflected on his side’s qualification for the European Championships this weekend and feels the Young Lions deserve the chance after what has been an arduous season.
Last week saw them travel to Belarus for three games in the Elite Round of qualifying and after victories against Poland and Serbia and a draw with the hosts, their presence at the Finals in the Czech Republic was confirmed.
It rounded off what has been a busy time for Eastick’s side who began their bid to qualify last October.
“It’s been a long campaign to qualify for this competition, so we’re delighted to have got there,” said Eastick.
“We had three games in the first round against Iceland, Romania and Belgium last year and then we had the three games in Belarus last week.
“We were pleased with the win against Poland and then again against a very good Serbian team, which led to the nail-biter against Belarus.
“The 0-0 draw was enough to get us there though and I feel we deserved it overall and are worth our place in the finals.”
England went into Saturday’s game with Belarus knowing that by avoiding defeat they would be guaranteed a place in the finals, but the other game between Serbia and Poland also had a bearing on things.
“There was a lot depending on the result against Belarus,” explained Brian.
“If Serbia could beat Poland and then Belarus beat us, then Serbia would go through and that game was being played almost simultaneously.
“When the scoreline came through and Poland were beating Serbia, it changed the attitude of Belarus in our game and they started attacking in numbers for the last part of the game knowing that a win would be good enough for them.
“It led to a nail-biting last 10 minutes for us, but we did enough and deserved the result.”
England will face the Czech Republic, Greece and Italy in the first round of the finals, which take place between 14-26 July.
We will have more from Brian throughout the week on TheFA.com, as he looks ahead to the finals in July.