With two wins and a draw from their first three qualifiers, the Germany U19 Women’s team have booked their place at the European Championship finals in Scotland (16th – 28th July). In an interview with DFB.de, head coach Maren Meinert spoke about the last remaining qualifier against Austria and her team’s preparations for the EUROS.
DFB.de: Ms Meinert, you have qualified for the European Championship in Scotland with the U19s after two rounds of qualifying. What is your overall verdict?
Maren Meinert: We’re happy that we’ve managed to reach the finals again. With only eight places in the tournament, it is quite difficult, so we’re extremely pleased to have qualified.
DFB.de: After two wins, your team drew the most recent group game 2-2 with Austria, conceding their first goals of the qualifying campaign in the process. Are you still satisfied with their performance?
Meinert: I wasn’t happy with the first half in particular against Austria, because we didn’t settle into the game well. This game showed us, however, that the team is capable of coming from behind and recovering from setbacks. In this light, I see the game as a positive and am pleased we came away with a respectable result in the end, although, obviously, we would have liked to win.
DFB.de: The team trailed 2-1 for a short time. How did you motivate your players in this instance?
Meinert: The motivation mostly came from within the team. At that point in the game, every player knew they couldn’t accept this result. After that, the team went full throttle and quickly scored the equaliser. In the end we created good chances and would definitely have deserved a win.
DFB.de: The game against Austria was the deciding game in Group A. How much pressure was the team under?
Meinert: In a second qualifying round there is a lot of pressure on every team. You can’t afford to make mistakes at any time. We don’t wish to focus on the pressure, however, but rather on the enjoyment of playing. The players are playing with clear targets and in order to reach these they don’t need to feel pressure, they just need to enjoy playing football. It is not a good idea to only do the thing you love most under pressure.
DFB.de: Where do you see room for improvement in your team?
Meinert: I really liked the attitude with which we went into the first few games. It was also a positive that we took on the challenges and won the first and second balls. Against Austria, however, the team was quite weak in the challenges and surprised at how many challenges there were in the game. That is something we need to work on before the EUROS and something we need to coach well. The players need to learn to take countermeasures independently as well – I have a lot of players in the team who can do that, but don’t always show it on the pitch.
DFB.de: There are still more than two months to go before the championship. What’s the fixture plan until then?
Meinert: The players will have May off first of all. In the coming weeks they’ll be playing in the last few weeks of the Bundesliga, after which we want to give the players a break. In June, we will travel to the USA and will play a number of friendlies there. Before heading to Scotland for the finals in July, the final squad will meet for a three day training course.