Northern Ireland’s Under-19 and Under-17 women’s teams face “exciting but daunting” games in the elite rounds of their respective Euro qualifiers.
Northern Ireland National Women’s Manager Alfie Wylie, who attended today’s elite round draws in Switzerland, said both sides will encounter “high quality opposition” next spring as they attempt to reach Euro finals in the summer of 2019.
The WU19s are set to face Norway, Denmark and Ukraine in their elite round (Group 5) – and Norway will host the mini tournament between 1 and 9 April.
The U17s have been drawn in an elite round group (also Group 5) featuring France, Portugal and Czech Republic. The mini tournament will be staged in Portugal between 21 and 30 March.
Wylie said: “It’s exciting for both teams to have reached the elite stage, and it’s a credit to them, however both teams were in Pot 4 of their draws so they were always going to get tough opposition.
“The task for us now is to provide quality training and good practice games for the teams to help them get up to speed for the elite rounds.”
WU17s coach Alison Nicholl said she was looking forward to taking on France, who are ranked third in Europe at U17 level, in particular. She also said it would be “an exciting but daunting” challenge for her team in Portugal.
Northern Ireland WU19s finished second in their initial qualification group behind Germany to progress to the elite round, while the WU17s reached the second stage by being one of the best third-placed teams in the first round of qualifiers.
Through the WU19 elite round seven countries will qualify to join hosts Scotland in the finals from 16 to 28 July next year.
And it’s the same for WU17 teams. Seven elite round group winners will join hosts Bulgaria in the finals from 5-17 May next year.
Meanwhile, the draws were also made today for the next Euros competition for the U19 and U17 women’s teams.
The U19s are in Group 5 in the qualifying round for the 2020 finals in Georgia. Their opponents will be Norway, Wales and Moldova. And Northern Ireland will host the mini tournament between 30 September and 8 October next year.
The top two sides in every group plus the four third-placed teams with the best record against the top two in their section will go into the elite round draw on 22 November 2019, with the games in spring 2020. Seven teams will eventually qualify for the finals to join Georgia.
The U17s are in Group 10 in the qualifying round for the 2020 finals in Sweden. Their opponents will be Italy, Scotland and Montenegro. Scotland will host the mini tournament between 12 and 20 October next year.
The top two sides in every group plus the two third-placed teams with the best record against the top two in their section will join Spain and Germany in the elite round draw on 22 November 2019, with the games in spring 2020. Seven teams will eventually qualify to join Sweden in the finals in May 2020.
Alfie Wylie said Norway would be a tough proposition for the U19s, and added that Wales and Moldova would be strong opponents, too.
He further revealed he expects Italy to be “excellent” next autumn, while Scotland and Montenegro would provide “a good challenge” for the U17s.
“We have exciting young players coming through and these qualifiers will provide them with a chance to shine,” he added.