UEFA European Under-19 Championship first round qualifiers
Republic of Ireland, SCOTLAND, Slovenia, Latvia
Friday 13th November - Wednesday 18th November
Republic of Ireland

Scotland Under-19 Coach Scot Gemmill is hoping that his squad’s previous experience of reaching major tournaments will provide the perfect motivation ahead of this week’s UEFA European Under-19 Championships first round qualifiers.

Scotland face Latvia, Slovenia and the Republic of Ireland in Group 1 and Gemmill, who led Scotland Under-17s to back-to-back European Championships in 2014 and 2015 with many of the current squad, believes that the desire to reach those heights once more will inspire his players.

Speaking at the team’s hotel in Glasgow before they fly out to the Republic of Ireland for the qualifiers, Gemmill said: “Having that familiarity with the players is really useful, as everyone fully grasps what we are trying to achieve. A lot of the players have experienced big tournaments already and enjoyed it previously. They understand what the rewards are if we put in all the hard work.

“The experiences that the players have had, whether it was at last year’s EUROs in Malta or this year in Bulgaria, should help them recognize all the small details that help the players get to where we want to go."

Scotland will play their three first round qualifiers inside six days in the Republic of Ireland, with the first match against Latvia in Athlone. The intense nature of qualifying groups brings with them their own pressures, but Gemmill reckons his squad are well-equipped for the challenge ahead.

He said: “I think in these tournament-style groups that having three games in such a short spell is definitely a factor. The players have to handle the recovery and the preparation in-between fixtures as well as the games themselves.

“Most of the squad have been in this environment before in previous age-groups, so they recognize the importance of managing the challenging aspects of tournament football. They know that come the last game that bit of freshness or that extra energy can prove to be decisive.

Scotland go into the qualifiers on the back of a successful trip to Germany last month, in which Gemmill’s side defeated Mexico and draws with the United States and the hosts in Stuttgart.

The tournament was a dry-run for the Germans who host the finals next year, and while it was great preparation for these qualifiers, Gemmill is aware that Scotland face a tough task if they want to return for the European Championships in the summer.

“Germany was ideal preparation for this group, and it was great to be invited. The team did well and possibly could’ve won the tournament”, Gemmill said.

“The format and the intensity of the week was really good, and highlighted the balance of what it takes on the pitch and the preparation it requires off the pitch to succeed.
“If you look at some of the groups in this first round, you have to say that a lot of them are firmly in the balance. The Under-17s (who qualified from a group containing Italy, Bulgaria and FYR Macedonia) were in a similar situation in their qualifiers this year, where the standard was quite comparable to elite rounds in previous years.

“The teams in our group need to be given the utmost respect, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the players will have to play well and show no complacency to ensure qualification.”