Ireland U21: Kenny eager for Toulon 'opportunity'

Ireland U21: Kenny eager for Toulon 'opportunity'

Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager Stephen Kenny believes the 2019 Maurice Revello Toulon Tournament represents a huge opportunity for his players.
10th Apr 2019

In an extensive interview with FAI TV, the U-21 manager admitted his excitement for the prestigious tournament after the draw for the 2019 competition was confirmed this week. 

Ireland set to compete in Group C alongside Bahrain, China and Mexico with France, England, Brazil, Portugal and Chile all set to compete at the tournament in June. 

"It's a huge opportunity for us as a nation to go to this tournament and compete against these nations," said U-21 manager Stephen Kenny.

"Bahrain, China and Mexico are all in tournaments next year for Olympic qualification so they will be taking the tournament extremely seriously. China have brought a great coach in, in Guus Hiddink and have played 10 competitive matches since September so it shows the resources they're putting in.

"Mexico, traditionally, have had dynamic and impressive under-age teams, and Bahrain would be an unknown quantity to us but they've got a clear objective to qualify for Qatar 2022, as do we.

"The Toulon Tournament is hugely important with the gap between the U-19s and U-21s internationals being huge. It's a huge step up for our players, good matches, and we want to give ourselves a chance."

Stephen Kenny won his opening competitive game as U-21 manager with a 3-0 win over Luxembourg in the UEFA 2021 European Championships qualifying campaign in March. 

It was obvious that the former Dundalk manager had already imposed his style of play on the side and Kenny wants his players to believe that they can play football with a style. 

"We can't insist on perimeters on the way we can perform, we can't limit ourselves," Kenny continued. 

"Traditionally, we limit ourselves on how we think we can play, we don't think we're good enough as a nation, we don't think our players are good enough and to me, that's unacceptable.

"We must demand more of ourselves. I want defenders who are comfortable in possession and can play out, I want to use the maximum width of the pitch and I want our attacking players to express themselves."