Northern Ireland’s Men's Under-17s will face England, France and Hungary in the elite qualifying round of UEFA U17 Euro 2024.
The UEFA European Under-17 Championship elite round draw, made earlier today, split 32 teams into eight groups of four to be played as single-venue mini tournaments in March.
The 32 teams will compete for 15 spots alongside hosts Cyprus in the finals from 20 May to 5 June. The eight elite round group winners and seven runners-up with the best records will qualify for the final tournament.
England are top seeds in Group 1 in the elite round, while France are second seeds and Hungary third seeds. Hosts, dates and venues for the games in March are TBC.
Northern Ireland progressed to the latter stages of the 2023-2024 competition as one of the five best third-placed teams alongside Norway, Denmark, Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the UEFA European Under-17 Championship 2023-24 Qualifying Round, played in October, Andy Waterworth’s team competed in a mini tournament against Greece, San Marino and hosts Italy.
After being defeated 2-0 by the Greeks in their opening fixture and then drawing 0-0 with Italy, they deservedly registered a handsome 4-0 victory against San Marino thanks to goals from Cole Brannigan, Callum Burnside, Conor Haughey and Braiden Graham.
Greece defeated Italy 2-1 to top the table with maximum points, however Italy finished runners-up ahead of Northern Ireland on goal difference – by a single goal.
But Northern Ireland qualified for the elite round as one of the five third-placed teams with the best records against the top two in their section.