Northern Ireland women’s futsal team have been handed a ‘tricky’ task in the preliminary round draw for the 2022/23 UEFA European Women's Futsal Championship.
Keith Gibson’s side will face the Netherlands, hosts Serbia and newcomers Latvia in Group A with the matches due to be staged from 10-15 May.
To advance to the 16-team main round, which takes place in October, Northern Ireland will have to top their group or finish as one of the best runners-up.
The final tournament is scheduled to be held in March 2023.
Northern Ireland are in Pot 3 and they will be keen to build on last year’s Euros where they finished third in the group, having recorded a first competitive win against Lithuania.
They have played Serbia and Netherlands in previous tournaments, suffering narrow defeats so the squad will be aiming to improve on that and compete to top the group.
And the squad has been working hard in preparation for the tournament following the domestic success of the recent Cathedral Eye Clinic futsal league.
Team manager Gibson said: “This will be a tricky group with two good teams in the top two pots and the unknown quantity of Latvia. We faced Serbia in the last Euros and were leading at half-time. Two late goals conceded was a disappointing ending and we hope to finish the job this time.
“In the last Euros we beat Lithuania to move up into Pot 3 in this draw. This time we hope to better that again as futsal in Northern Ireland continues to progress.
“The squad have been working hard to make sure we give ourselves every chance of competing in every game. The level of commitment shown by these players is incredible and we believe we can go to Serbia confident in each other and our ability to cause a shock.”
Preliminary round draw (matches 10 to 15 May 2022)
Group A: Netherlands, Serbia (hosts), Northern Ireland, Latvia
Group B: Belgium, Slovakia, Gibraltar (hosts), Moldova
Group C: Slovenia, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania (hosts)