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Tony Gervaise is full of pride and very much looking forward to taking the Scottish under-19s into their first ever major tournament, the UEFA Under-19 Championships in Hungary which start this week. "It's a tremendous honour and you get a lot of job satisfaction from it," Tony told Women's Soccer Scene ahead of the Championships. "We have an excellent bunch of players with great potential to carry through to the seniors. It is the first time a Scottish youth team of any kind has qualified for a big tournament for 20 years, Craig Brown was the last manager to achieve that."
Scotland qualified for the Finals in impressive fashion, with 33 goals for and just one against from six straight victories. "The goal we conceded (against Israel) was the first let in by the defence for over 15 months of international football," adds Tony. "We now have a very settled squad, after a period of transition, which has gelled together very well and that is a recognition of the whole coaching squad. I have not got enough praise for them.
"The potential at under-15 and under-17 level is exciting - our under-17 captain Sharon Scott is an outstanding prospect but sadly she will miss the Finals because of a knee injury. We have a new Head Coach in Anna Signeul who needs time to establish her philosophies but already we have got a great player pathway. We are hoping that at least five of the under-19 squad from the tournament will be ready to go into the senior squad."
Scotland have been drawn in a tough group, which includes an opening match against England, but Tony is quietly confident that they are more than capable of getting through to the semi finals. "They're winners already for just being here," he says. "But there is an extra incentive for the team as five of the eight countries will qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Championships in Russia next year, and that will give them an extra chance to play together. I really think we can do it, I have faith in the girls.
"England are ahead of us in structure, but we are capable of competing with them. Russia are bound to be strong and it will take a good performance to be able to beat them and France are the emerging nation at under-19 level so it is a tough group, but we are looking forward to the challenge with confidence.
"We'll give it a go, and if we don't make it, it won't be for the want of trying."
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