The FFA official site is going on the series of interviews with all the head coaches of the U-19 Euro-2019 participant teams. Tom Mohan is the head coach of Ireland U-19 team. His answers to the questions are worth reading.
- How can you summarize your journey in the qualifying and elite rounds?
- We have had a very successful campaign in qualifying for the finals and made the most of our home advantage to top a very difficult qualifying group with wins over Bosnia & Herzegovina, Faroe Islands and Holland. Going into the draw as Top Seeds was a great boost of confidence for the Players, though we were dealt a very difficult trip to Krasnodar in Russia where we faced 3 very different types of opponents in Romania, Azerbaijan and Russia with different systems and styles of play. Once again our Players showed the ability to overcome these difficult challenges and qualify for the Finals. There is a great spirit within our group of Players and Staff and the Players have made our country very proud with the quality of their performances this season which reflects the hard work many people have put into these group of Players on their pathway from grassroots clubs to our National League Clubs and UK Clubs right the way through our underage International system where many of our Players have already experienced playing at U17 UEFA Finals.
- There are only 3 teams In final stage, including Republic of Ireland, which have not won the U-19 championship yet. What are your expectations from this championship?
- We will obviously have to wait for the draw to see who our opponents will be and then focus on our next game as we have done so all season with the view to getting out of our group. Prior to the finals my staff and myself will be working extremely hard to have the Players prepared Tactically and physically to perform to the best of their abilities against high level opponents in what will be extremely hot conditions. Our Players have shown fantastic ability and resilience along our journey to the finals and will once again relish the opportunity of pitting their skills against the Elite of European Football at U19 level. It is important that our Players enjoy the experience of playing at the finals and like many of our current and former senior International Players kick on from the experience of playing at UEFA Underage finals to become senior International’s.
- In your opinion, which teams are the favorites of the championship?
- Once again the draw will determine so much and it is difficult to say who are the favourites at this stage. There are many of the top nations at the Finals such as Spain, France and last season’s finalists Portugal and Italy. There are also countries like Germany and England who did not qualify and that is testament to the qualities of Czech Republic (who finished top of England’s group) and Norway (who finished top of Germany’s group). Armenia will also have the advantage of being hosts and will be best prepared for the hot conditions and no doubt will have put a lot of work into preparing this particular age group with a total focus on the finals.
- What do you know about Armenia?
- I managed our U17s (1997 Born Group) in Armenia in the Qualifying phase in 2013 where we played Gibraltar, Armenia and England. Many of our U19 Staff and myself have fond memories from this trip to Yerevan and it is an added bonus to have experienced the Armenian culture and friendship of the Armenian people.
From a Football point of view I will be expecting a very well organized Armenia Team who will represent their country with great pride in hosting the U19 Finals and no doubt prove very difficult opponents for any of their opponents in these finals. I am also aware that this age group of Armenian Players qualified for the Elite Phase at U17 level with a win over Iceland and a draw against Poland which proves they have quality Players.