The UEFA European Under-17 Championship consists of three distinct stages: the qualifying round, the elite round and the final tournament. The format changed for 2014/15 with the expansion of the final tournament from eight to 16 teams.
The qualifying round, played in autumn, is made up of 13 groups of four countries playing in one-venue mini-tournaments. The top two from each pool progress alongside the four third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their groups.
In the elite round, held in early spring, those 30 qualifiers plus the top two seeds – given a bye this far – compete in eight mini-tournament groups of four. The group winners and seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section advance to the finals to join the hosts.
In the final tournament the contenders are split into four groups of four, with the front two from each proceeding to the knockout phase.
Further details, including the criteria for separating sides that finish level on points in a group, or after 80 minutes in a match, can be found in the official competition regulations.
Capped 120 times by Malta between 1993 and 2009, midfielder Aguis spent the bulk of his playing career – aside from a loan at Pisa Calcio in 2001/02 – at home-town team Valletta FC. He aided Valletta to eight league titles and seven Maltese Cups, including the 1996/97 and 2001/02 doubles, and was three times national player of the year. He ended his playing career in 2012 to become Valletta assistant manager but last year came out of retirement to represent Xewkija Tigers FC in Gozo.
Winger and playmaker Brincat earned 103 caps for Malta between 1988 and 2004 in a playing career spent with Hamrun Spartans FC, Floriana FC, Birkirkara FC and Sliema Wanderers FC. He went on to manage San Gwann FC, Vittoriosa Stars FC and Floriana, and has his own football academy.
Midfielder Busuttil was capped 113 times by Malta, scoring a tally of 23 goals that stood as a record until overtaken by Michael Mifsud. Between 1979 and 1987 he played for his local club Rabat Ajax FC, winning two league titles including the 1985/85 domestic double. After a season with Italy's SS Verbania Calcio, Busuttil spent six years with KRC Genk, becoming captain and three times their top scorer.
The last seven years of his career – which took in 500 top-flight appearances and 190 goals – were with Sliema Wanderers, aiding their 1995/96 championship victory. From 2009 to 2011 he was Malta assistant coach under John Buttigieg and has also set up his own academy.
Australian-born right-back Carabott won a Maltese record 122 caps between 1987 and 2005. His was a playing career that took in many clubs, winning league titles with Hibernians FC, Valletta and Sliema Wanderers. He retired as a player in 2011 after a third spell with his first club, Marsaxlokk FC, by which stage he was already involved in coaching. Carabott joined Zurrieq FC as coach in 2012 and in his first season won promotion to the second tier.
Malta's all-time leading international goalscorer and current captain, Mifsud's career has taken him to Germany, Norway, England and Australia. He overtook Busuttil's scoring mark against Finland on 3 March 2010 and last October won his 100th cap.
Beginning his career with Sliema Wanderers, he had a trial with Manchester United FC in 1999 and two years later joined 1. FC Kaiserslautern. Returning to win the title at Sliema in 2004, Mifsud then went to Lillestrøm Sk, Coventry City FC, Barnsley FC, Valletta (where he won another title in 2011/12), Qormi FC and, in September 2013, Melbourne Heart FC.
Fr Hilary Tagliaferro
As well as more than 50 years as an Augustinian friar, Fr Tagliaferro is a well-known personality in Maltese football. He is the president of the Youth Football Association, and has wide experience as a journalist and commentator, attending many FIFA World Cups. Fr Tagliaferro links his two vocations, saying: "Fair play is the basic rule of both football and Christianity. Football is based on mutual respect in victory and defeat as well as friendship, honesty and joy."
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