The 2010 UEFA European Futsal Championship finals in Hungary next January will be the biggest ever with 12 contenders and the race to earn those berths begins on Thursday with the preliminary round.
Sixteen teams are competing in four mini-tournaments, with the group winners and two best runners-up to join 22 other nations in the qualifying round from 19-22 March. Three teams are involved in the tournament for the first time; Estonia, Montenegro and the Republic of Ireland, who will stage Group A in Dublin against England, Cyprus and Kazakhstan, whose champion club Kairat Almaty will compete in April's UEFA Futsal Cup final four.
Estonia are in Group B in Bulgaria, meeting the hosts, Armenia and Latvia, a side only beaten by eventual finals entrants Romania in the 2007 preliminary round. Malta welcome Greece, Georgia and Albania for Group C and Montenegro, Turkey and Finland visit Israel in Group D. Matches will be played on Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The qualifying round draw has already been made and the winners of Group A in Dublin will have a formidable task, as among their opponents in the next stage will by holders Spain. The finals in Budapest and Debrecen run from 18-30 January 2010.
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