Griffiths recognises end goal in face of Euro semi

Wednesday 11 May 2016
John Griffiths has led the U17s to the Euro semi-finals

Ahead of the UEFA Women’s U17s Championship semi-final against Germany, John Griffiths has asked his England side to remember the bigger picture.

The Young Lionesses will take on the four-time winners on Friday afternoon, in search of a place in the Euro final against either Spain or Norway.

If England lose they will still compete in the third-place play-off, with the winner qualifying for the FIFA Women’s U17s World Cup in September – Griffiths’s stated aim at the start of the tournament – but the head coach reminded his players of the end goal.

England v Germany

UEFA Women's U17s Championship
5pm BST, Friday 13 May 2016
Torpedo Stadium, Zhodino, Belarus

He said: “Yes, there’s a final at stake but there’s a longer journey for them to aim for and that is one day getting into Mark Sampson’s senior team.

“Obviously we’d love to make the final and with it the World Cup, but there is a bigger picture.

“That said, I’m really pleased with what the girls have achieved and nine months’ hard work is paying off. They’ve done incredibly well so far.”

England are unbeaten in nine Euro games so far this season; six qualifiers and three group matches in the finals.

They opened their finals campaign with a 3-2 win over Norway, followed by a record 12-0 defeat of hosts Belarus and a 4-1 win over Serbia, a match in which they fell behind.

And now Griffiths is relishing coming up against one of the traditional powerhouses of women’s football.

He added: “If you’re going to get to a final in any competition then you’re going to have to come up against the best.

Grace Smith (left) and Anna Patten

Grace Smith (left) scored twice in the 12-0 win over Belarus

“It’s a good test for the players. We played USA and Japan earlier this year and they were tough. This is another test – a really good test – on their journey.”

Griffiths has been delighted with how his charges have performed so far and the character they have shown.

He said: “Being over here for a tournament is not just a question of football, but also life. Some of the girls have got exams to do as well so it’s a real test for them on and off the pitch.

“But the group are in buoyant mood. They’ve worked hard.

“This is a great competition. We’re playing the best teams on the continent. Forty-five teams started the competition and we’re down to the last four.

“Credit to the work the players have done.

“It has not been easy. We’ve had lots of bumps along the way and players being suspended for games, all sorts of things. But the girls have been unbelievable in spite of all that.”

By Glenn Lavery