Toni Duggan wants to put on a good show at Spotland on Saturday.
England v Belarus
UEFA European Women's U19 Championship
First Qualifying Round
4pm (BST), Saturday 19 September 2009
Spotland, Rochdale AFC
Tickets are priced £3 in advance (£1 for concessions) and £5 on the day
Ticket hotline - 0844 826 1907
The England Women’s U19 team have not played on home soil since October 2007. Since then they have played in nine different countries including Chile, Poland, Spain, Slovenia and Belarus, where, in July, they won the European Championship for the very first time.
It will therefore be a welcome return to England for this age group when they take on Belarus at Spotland on Saturday, and they will be eager to show their own fans exactly why they were crowned European Champions just two months ago. And while that is true for Everton forward, Toni Duggan, she has another, more poignant reason to look forward to this First Qualifying Round.
“I can’t wait for it to get underway,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity for people in and around Manchester to come and watch us play, so I'm looking forward to getting things going.
“On a personal note though, I'm delighted that my mum can come and watch me because she’s scared of flying and she hasn’t had the chance to see me play for England yet. Hopefully I can put on a good show for her. I know all the girls will be looking to do the same, because it’s nice for our friends and family to see us play at home, especially considering how many sacrifices they make for us.
“First and foremost though, our aim is to get through to the Elite Round. That is what we’ll be focused on and I'm ready to play my part. We don’t want that Final win in Belarus to be a one-off and we now have to progress on that.”
Duggan scored four goals in Belarus, including the opening goal in the Final against Sweden, but now she is ready to help England qualify for the Elite Qualifying Round, which will bring them one step closer to this season's Finals. England face Slovakia on Monday 21 September (at Gigg Lane, Bury FC) and complete the qualifiers against Norway on Thursday 24 September (also at Spotland).
“We’re full of confidence having just won the tournament," Duggan admitted, "but we can’t go into any of these games underestimating anyone. We know Belarus are a good side because they gave a few teams a good run for their money in the Euros. Norway are always there or thereabouts at every level of Women’s football and Slovakia will be difficult as well.
“We know what it takes to win tournaments like these and hopefully our previous experiences will help. We’re definitely focused on the job in hand.”