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Stephen Kenny To Face Dutch Legend In First Tournament As Under-21 Manager

Stephen Kenny To Face Dutch Legend In First Tournament As Under-21 Manager
By Aonghus Ó Maicín Updated

Republic of Ireland Under-21 manager, Stephen Kenny, will share a touchline with legendary company when he brings his side to France for his first tournament in charge.

After the Irish youngsters were drawn in a group with China, Bahrain and Mexico at the 2019 Maurice Revello Toulon Tournament, the former Dundalk manager will face off against Guus Hiddink in his side's first game of the competition against China on the Mediterranean coast.

12 teams, including England, France and Portugal, will participate in the tournament starting on June 3, with the final set to take place on Sunday, June 15.

It will be the first time the side will be competing at this tournament since 2002 and upon the announcement, Kenny said:

Ireland have never qualified for a major tournament at Under-21 level so Toulon represents one of the highest tournament experiences at this age level, which will stand them well in the future.

The first game is against China. Guus Hiddink is over the Under-21s so it shows the huge amount of resources they're putting into their teams. Of course, Hiddink previously managed South Korea, Australia and Holland at the World Cup.

Mexico will be very strong, quarter-finalists in the last Under-20s World Cup, and have a great history of success at this level having previously competed in the Olympics. With Qatar 2022, Bahrain will be pushing to qualify for that tournament, it will be at the forefront of their minds, and the players who will play in Toulon will be pushing to be part of that tournament in a few years time.

"China, Mexico and Bahrain will all have players from 1996 and 1997 whilst we'll have players like Adam Idah, who is a 2001, and even Troy Parrott, who is a 2002, so it will be great exposure for our players," added Kenny.

"Three different styles of play which will be very intriguing and the weather will be very hot in Toulon so it presents a challenge. We're coming off the back of a good performance against Luxembourg in March and we're looking forward to the competition."

A win over Luxembourg at Tallaght Stadium gave Kenny a winning start to his reign as the squad attempt to qualify for the European Championships in 2021. Their next game of the campaign will also be at home, against Armenia, on Friday, September 6.

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