Northern Ireland’s Women’s Under-17 team are off to Serbia this week to compete in the first stage of qualifiers for the 2022 UEFA WU17 European Championships.
They will be facing Spain and Iceland as well as the host nation at Serbia’s National Sports Centre in Belgrade.
A new format has been introduced for WU17 Euro qualifiers which replaces the old qualifying and elite rounds. The competition still features one-venue mini tournaments but now includes two leagues (A and B) with promotion and relegation leading to the 2022 finals.
Alfie Wylie’s WU17s have been drawn in Group A7 in the first step towards next year’s WU17 Euros in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
They will be up against top seeds Spain in their first game - on Friday (24 September) at 6pm UK time – followed by an encounter with the Serbs on Monday (noon). Their final group match is against Iceland next Thursday (1pm).
Wylie pointed out: “I’m really excited about this tournament and this group of players. We have been placed in a group with some of Europe’s top teams, which shows the level we’re currently at.
“All our players are products of our Performance Pathway and come from every corner of the country and representing all of our communities, which makes me really proud.”
Under the new format last-placed teams in each League A group mini tournament will be relegated in Round 1, while the winners of each mini tournament in League B and best runner-up will be promoted.
In Round 2 - to be played next spring - the seven group winners in League A will qualify for the final tournament.
After Round 2 the winners of mini tournaments in League B will be promoted and the last-placed teams in League A will be relegated for Round 1 of the next edition of the tournament.
The Northern Ireland Women’s U17 squad for the mini tournament in Serbia includes:
Goalkeepers - Erin McAllister (Linfield Ladies), Ellie Scott (Lisburn Rangers).
Defenders - Sarah Tweedie, Abi Sweetlove and Sophie Keenan (all Linfield Ladies), Niamh Coyle and Claragh Quigg (both Sion Swifts Ladies), Cerys Madden (Cliftonville Ladies), Rebecca Magee (Glentoran Women).
Midfielders - Rhyleigh Marks, Lucy Johnston and Sophie Gargan (all Linfield Ladies), Naomi McLaughlin and Aoibhe O’Neill (both Sion Swifts Ladies) and Aimee Kerr (Carnmoney Ladies).
Forwards - Keri Halliday (Linfield Ladies), Chelsea Scott (Killen Rangers Ladies), Emily Reid (Ballymoney United Ladies), Tara Reilly (Cliftonville Ladies), Rachel McIntyre (Limavady Boys).