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Record entry for Futsal EURO qualifying draw

A record 43 nations have entered UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 and the road to the finals in Croatia will be set out when the preliminary and qualifying round draws are made.

Spain are the defending champions
Spain are the defending champions ©Sportsfile

The UEFA Futsal EURO 2012 qualifying draw will be made at 14.00CET today with 42 nations competing for 11 finals slots alongside hosts Croatia.

Four debutants – Iceland, Norway, San Marino and Switzerland – will join the established European forces of the sport including Spain, who secured their third straight title in January 2010 in Hungary, in the first final tournament to contain 12 teams. The road to Croatia will consist of two stages: the preliminary round from 20 to 24 January 2011 and the qualifying round from 24 to 28 February.

While the 18 highest-ranked nations, including the dozen that competed in Hungary, will enter in the qualifying round, the other 24 entrants will compete for six berths in that second phase. The preliminary round contenders have been split into four seeding tiers while six teams have been designated mini-tournament hosts: the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Finland, Turkey, the Republic of Ireland, Malta and Iceland.

Those six teams will be drawn from one pot and positioned in each of the groups according to their ranking. Then the remaining nations from the fourth tier of seeds will be drawn and placed in the available fourth positions; the procedure will then be repeated for the other three seeding pots. The six group winners will go into the qualifying round, also drawn on 24 September.

Again, the mini-tournament hosts have already been allocated – Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Romania, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Poland. They will be picked first and placed into the six groups as per their seeding tier and the same procedure as for the preliminary round will continue for the rest of the draw. The preliminary round winners will constitute the fourth tier of seeds. The six qualifying round group winners and five best runners-up will progress to join Croatia in the finals scheduled for February 2012 in Zagreb and Split.

Preliminary round draw pots
Each group will contain one host nation and one team from each seeding tier

Pot 10 – hosts (seeding tier): Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (1), Finland (1), Turkey (2), the Republic of Ireland (3), Malta (4) and Iceland (4)

Pot 9 (tier 4): Estonia, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland

Pot 8 (tier 3): Albania, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Armenia, England

Pot 7 (tier 2): Latvia, France, Andorra, Cyprus, Georgia

Pot 6 (tier 1): Israel, Lithuania, Greece, Moldova

Qualifying round draw pots
Each group will contain one host nation and one team from each seeding tier

Pot 5 – hosts (seeding tier): Ukraine (1), Azerbaijan (2), Romania (2), Slovenia (2), Netherlands (3), Poland (3)

Pot 4 (tier 4): Winners preliminary round Groups A, B, C, D, E and F

Pot 3 (tier 3): Belgium, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Pot 2 (tier 2): Serbia, Hungary, Belarus

Pot 1 (tier 1): Spain (holders), Italy, Portugal, Russia, Czech Republic