Spanish team is underdog in EJC 2008

Category: - published 2008-06-25 by

Spanish team entering the EJC in Sevilla as an underdog

Hosting the 2008 European Junior Championship provides the Spanish junior national team program with its first chance in 12 years to compete for the title. The long-time head coach of the Spanish junior national team, Jesús Fernández, sees this as an opportunity, but admits to his team’s underdog status.

“My goal for the EJC is to show a good team and try to be a match for every team we’ll face. The teams we’ll face are three of the strongest national teams in Europe: France the defending champion, Russia and Sweden. We’ll fight as an underdog for a place in the games that will be played Sunday 20th”, Fernández refers to the medal-round games played in the last day of the EJC in Sevilla.

Fernández thinks the scorching weather will be an advantage for the home team.

“The sun and the heat will have a big influence in the games. Teams from Northern Europe will have a hard time getting used to the climate that will be in Sevilla during the Championship. . We’ll be practicing for the EJC one week prior to the games in Sevilla at the same hours that the games will be played.”

Along with being used to the weather, Fernández sees speed as a strength for his team.

“Northern European players are bigger and stronger than those from the Southern side. If we want to be a match to them we need to bring out our speed game.”

When asked, Fernández points out a few Spanish players worth keeping an eye on:

“In defense we have two outstanding players. DB Enric Cordova has been excelling in his play in Mexico the last two years for the Leones a Anahuac. He has great athletic skills and good game knowledge. LB Daniel Iniesta with the Cobras de Murcia is a great tackler. Offensively we have great expectations of QBs Mats Johnson with the Bocs d’Argentona and Sergi Gonzalez with the Badalona Dracs. Both will have a chance to play in the tournament. Also noteworthy is J.C. Bartra, WR with the Rookies de Barberá, who is playing at a great level in the Spanish Second Division.”

The Spanish team started preparing for the EJC last year.

“In 2007 the coaching staff conducted the scouting of players with age eligibility to take part in the EJC. During the first quarter of 2008, we’ve arranged 5 single-day mini camps in different Spanish geographical locations to check on the best players around. In those camps we elaborated the preliminary roster of 75 players to attend a 3-day mini camp. After cutting 20 players we arranged for an additional 4-day mini camp. July 4th we’ll begin in Seville our training camp previous to the Tournament with the 45 players on roster equired to take part in the final round.”

35-year old Fernández himself has been involved with Spanish American football for almost 20 years. He has been with the junior national team for 14 years.

“I began coaching the junior national team back in 1994 as linebackers coach. The same year Spain took part in the championship tournament in Berlin. In 1996 I was appointed as defensive coordinator for the EJC in Frankfurt. In 1999 I became the head coach.”

In addition to his duties in the national team, Fernández is also the head coach of Bocs d’Argentona.

As for the EJC, starting 12th July, Fernández names the usual suspects as the biggest favourites to take home the gold medals.

“In any EJC France and Germany are always contenders for the title. Sweden has a nice team too, so they can also get in the mix for the championship.”

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