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Monday 29 Jan 2024
Men’s futsal team gearing up for Euro qualifiers

The Northern Ireland men’s futsal team will compete against Cyprus, Andorra and Estonia in the preliminary round of the qualifiers for UEFA Futsal Euro 2026.

Northern Ireland have been drawn in Group A, one of three four-team groups in the preliminary round, with the matches to be played between 8 and 17 April. Exact group dates/hosts have still to be confirmed.

The top two in each group will go through to the main round, played as home and away fixtures from December. The main round draw is set to be staged at the end of May.

UEFA Futsal Euro 2026 co-hosts Latvia and Lithuania progress automatically to the finals, while the top 34 qualifying contenders in the UEFA futsal national team coefficient ranking as of December 2023 enter directly into the main round.

The final tournament, in Latvia and Lithuania, is set to be staged in January/February 2026 and will feature 16 teams.

In the preliminary round draw - it was staged at UEFA HQ in Nyon last week - the 12 teams were split into four pots based on their coefficient ranking.

Northern Ireland are the fourth seeds in their group, while the top seeds are Cyprus. Andorra are second seeds and Estonia third seeds.

The men’s futsal team will have a new manager in post by the time the preliminary round mini tournament is staged in April, with an appointment expected soon.

They were last in action back in the autumn when they played Scotland in two international friendlies. They were also involved in a training camp in December and will be taking part in another camp shortly.

Northern Ireland performed well over the two games in Dundee, winning the first encounter 2-1 with goals from Danny Stapleton and Declan Starrs and recording a 4-0 victory in the second game with goals from Connor Millar (2), Danny Stapleton and Ryan McMenemy.

There were four debutants in the games against Scotland: David Fulton (Omagh Futsal Club), Caolan Dobney (Loughborough Futsal Club), Zach Tolmie (Belfast United Futsal Club) and Jakub Sobecki (World United Futsal Club).

Image: The Northern Ireland men’s futsal squad who took on Scotland: (back, from left) Zach Tolmie, Danny Stapleton , Connor Millar, Caolan Dobney, Declan Starrs, Jakub Sobecki, Matthew McErlain, Scott Gunn; (front, from left) Adam Barr, Conor Kernohan, David Fulton, Josh Lowry, John Gibson, Ryan McMenemy.