Irish teams handed tough Euro draws
Soccer:The Republic of Ireland under-17 team has been drawn alongside Serbia, Georgia and hosts Austria for the elite round of the Uefa Championships between March 25th and 30th next year.
The Group 2 winners will qualify for the finals in Slovakia from May 5th to 17th, with the top six teams going forward to the Fifa under-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates from October 17th to November 8th.
The under-19s have also been drawn in Group 2 for their elite round with Serbia, Slovakia and Switzerland. The mini-tournament will take place in Serbia from June 6th to 10th, after their name was pulled out of a hat when agreement couldn’t be reached between the four nations on whether to play the group there or in Ireland. The group winners will qualify for the finals in Lithuania from July 20th to August 1st.
Both the under-17s and under-19s were second seeds in the draws which took place in Nyon, Switzerland, and were also second seeds in the draws for the qualifying rounds of the 2013-14 Uefa European Championships.
That competition will see the under-17s up against England, Armenia and newcomers Gibraltar in Group 7. The tournament will take place in Armenia from October 24th to 29th.
The under-19s are in Group 3 along with Bosnia, Azerbaijan and hosts Sweden, from October 10th to 15th.
The FAI was represented at today’s draws by Milo Corcoran, chairman of the FAI International Committee, under-17 manager Tom Mohan and under-19 manager Paul Doolin, who was disappointed that Ireland’s bid to host the elite round group failed.
“The biggest disappointment for me is the fact that we lost out on hosting the group. I really wanted to have it at home but Serbia wanted to host it too and unfortunately their name was drawn out of the hat,” said Doolin. “Belgrade in June will be hot but at least it is at the end of the season and we will be able to call on all our players. Serbia will be tough, especially at home, we know that Switzerland are good, having played their under-18s a few weeks ago, and I saw Slovakia beat Macedonia 5-1and 2-1 before we played Macedonia in our qualifying round."
Mohan, in his first campaign, guided the under-17s to the elite phase as joint winners after finishing level on points and everything else with Sweden in a group that also contained Romania and Macedonia. He is well aware that it will be tough going against Serbia, Georgia and Austria.
“It is never going to be easy at this stage of the competition and Serbia will be very strong. They actually beat us at this stage of last year’s competition. Georgia were in last year’s under-17 finals and actually got the semi-final and while I don’t know a lot about Austria, at this stage, they’ll have the advantage of playing at home. I am happy the group will be played in Austria because Georgia were pushing hard for it to be played out there. We know now who we are up against and we can start preparing for those games. We’ll do that as well as we can and take it from there.”
Serbia topped Group 1 in the qualifying round with full points after wins over Belarus, Moldova and Armenia and didn’t concede a goal while scoring 16 over the three games. Georgia finished second in Group 13, behind Ukraine and ahead of Luxembourg and Scotland, whom they beat 3-0. Austria finished second in Group 6, two points behind Switzerland, after beating the Faroe Islands and drawing with Cyprus and Switzerland.
Draw Details and Match Schedule
Uefa under-17 European Championships
2012-13 Elite Round – Group 2
Serbia, Ireland, Georgia, Austria. Hosts: Austria
March 25th: Republic of Ireland v Austria
March 27th:Republic of Ireland v Georgia
March 30th: Republic of Ireland v Serbia
2013-14 Qualifying Round – Group 7
Ireland, England, Gibraltar, Armenia.
October 24th:Republic of Ireland v Gibraltar
October 26th: Republic of Ireland v Armenia
October 29th: Republic of Ireland v England
Uefa under-19 European Championships
2012-13 Elite Round – Group 2
Serbia, Ireland, Slovakia, Switzerland.
June 6th: Republic of Ireland v Switzerland
June 8th: Republic of Ireland v Slovakia
June 11th: Republic of Ireland v Serbia.
2013-14 Qualifying Round – Group 3
Ireland, Bosnia, Azerbaijan, Sweden.
October 10th: Republic of Ireland v Azerbaijan
October 12th: Republic of Ireland v Sweden
October 15th: Republic of Ireland v Bosnia