Mo Marley has targetted a World Cup finals place at the Euro U19 Championship in Hungary .
England U19 Coach Mo Marley has set her team the target of qualifying for next year’s World Cup finals through a successful UEFA European Championship.
Marley’s youngsters head into the Euro U19 finals, being staged in Hungary during 20-31 July, knowing that reaching the semi-finals of the eight-nation event will clinch a World Cup place.
An extra place is up for grabs as one of England’s Euro group opponents, Russia, will be hosting the U19 World Cup tournament and so qualify automatically.
But to absolutely guarantee themselves a trip to the World finals England, boosted by the addition to the squad of Women’s Euro 2005 starlets Karen Carney and Eniola Aluko, will make reaching the Euro semis their first aim.
That could be ambitious for an extremely young team who exceeded the expectations of many by qualifying for the tournament, where their other group opponents will be Scotland and France.
“With the youth and inexperience in the squad,” admitted Marley, “if you’d asked me 12 months ago I’d have said we would do magnificently to reach the finals.
“But we’ve done that and now it’s about playing against the best young players in Europe - and that’s exactly what we want.
“We are young and quite inexperienced, but when you bring our players together you think ‘this is a talented squad.’
“So although our expectations are not perhaps as high as with the squads who reached the 2002 and 2003 semi-finals, we shall be striving first and foremost for World Cup qualification.”
In Wednesday’s opening match England face European Championship debutantes Scotland, then they meet Russia - who reached the quarter-finals of the last U19 World Cup - followed by France, who two years ago beat England in the Euro semis before winning the tournament.
“Scotland are always difficult,” said Marley. “They play a similar kind of football to us and the emphasis will be on aggression, which is the strength of their game. But technically we are better and I’m confident our football will deliver the goods.
“Russia are a little bit unknown to me, but to reach the World Cup quarter-finals you’ve got to have some quality.
“France have got big pedigree and they’ve got three players who were in their senior team at Euro 2005, but that’s great - these are the sort of teams we want to be playing against.”
Hungary, Germany, Finland and Switzerland make up the second group.