Mo Marley ready to defend European crown.
UEFA European Women's U19 Championship
Monday 24 May - Sunday 6 June 2010
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There is an old adage in football that says every team tries harder to beat the champions and it is this very scenario that Mo Marley is expecting as she prepares to lead her England side into their first group match of the UEFA European Women’s U19 Championship Finals, a tournament they triumphed in last July.
Marley has taken her young side to Macedonia for this season’s competition where they will attempt to successfully defend their crown, and tomorrow afternoon they will begin their Finals campaign against Scotland in Skopje.
Eight current squad members played in last season’s Final, in Belarus, when a goal apiece from Toni Duggan and Jordan Nobbs gave England a 2-0 victory over Sweden, and Marley believes this success will make the other seven competing nations even more determined to claim a victory over her side.
“Everywhere we go now we are recognised as one of the favourites and, as the holders, other teams will come into matches against us with a different mentality because everyone wants to go out and beat the champions,” she said. “Dealing with that pressure is one obstacle the girls must overcome.
“It will be interesting to see how they respond to being champions. That’s the big question now. We’ve always been competitive and had that will to win, but we were always the underdogs. It’s a different scenario now.”
Having a crux of players in the squad who won the title in Belarus will only serve to increase confidence ahead of the Finals and the Head Coach has asked the new players to draw from the experiences of last year’s contingent to help mould another triumphant side.
“We’ve got girls here who have already got a gold medal in their back pocket. Now it’s up to them to prove that they’ve got the hunger and desire to go and do it again. The new girls to the squad can only be inspired by what went on last year, and perhaps be a bit envious of the girls that have got the gold medal, which will hopefully make them want to go out and share the experiences that the previous group had.”
And what of tomorrow’s opponents, Scotland?
“They are very well organised and technically very good,” observed Marley. “Both of us will have a similar style of play and we will both have to cope with the hot weather but, hopefully, on the day, our experience, and the few days we’ve had here to acclimatise, will stand us in good stead.
“The League season only finished last Sunday and now we’re heading straight into a European Championship, which is a bit strange, what with the Finals being so early this year. But we’ve made a conscious effort to put the season to bed and we’re now focusing on the competition itself. And I’m sure, come Monday, the girls will be hungry and they’ll be ready.”
England's other Group B games will see them take on Italy on 27 May and Germany on 30 May.