Israel, Romania, Slovakia, Wales and Northern Ireland will enter the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying draw on 13 December, taking on the continent's strongest nations for a place in the 12-team finals in Finland.
That quintet came through the preliminary round this week, each winning four-team mini-tournaments in a new format that replaced the old two divisional system. For Israel it will be their first experience of being in the main qualifying groups, while the other nations have been away from the top level for at least a decade. Twenty-five teams, including holders Germany, now enter the tournament, with qualifiers to be played from April 2007 until October 2008.
The 30 contenders will be drawn into six groups of five, from as many qualifying pots. Germany are the top seeds along with FIFA Women's World Cup contenders Sweden, Norway, Denmark and England plus France, while the five preliminary round winners will be in a pot with Slovenia. Finland qualify automatically for the finals as hosts, and will be joined by the top team in each group, plus the winners of five play-offs in October 2008 involving the six pool runners-up and four third-placed sides with the best record against the teams finishing first, second and fourth.
UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ qualifying contenders
Pot A: Germany (holders), Sweden, Norway, Denmark, England, France.
Pot B: Russia, Italy, Czech Republic, Iceland, Ukraine, Netherlands.
Pot C: Spain, Scotland, Poland, Serbia, Switzerland, Hungary.
Pot D: Belgium, Portugal, Belarus, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Greece.
Pot E: Slovenia, Northern Ireland, Israel, Slovakia, Romania, Wales.
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