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Coming up on day one at U17 EURO in Baku

The two debutants in the field, Bosnia and Herzegovina and hosts Azerbaijan, are in action on Thursday as the 2016 finals in Baku open with fixtures in Groups A and B.

The coaches of the Group A teams – Azerbaijan, Portugal, Belgium, Scotland – pose with the trophy
The coaches of the Group A teams – Azerbaijan, Portugal, Belgium, Scotland – pose with the trophy ©Sportsfile

Group A

Belgium v Scotland (17.00CET, 8km Stadium, Baku)
• Having replaced Bob Browaeys as Belgium coach, Thierry Siquet has a tough act to follow. Browaeys steered the Red Devils to the semi-finals 12 months ago and into the last four of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in November, results Siquet described as "unbelievable". He added: "Now it's a new generation and we qualified first in both of our groups. Scotland have a good mix of physical and attacking play. Tomorrow will be very difficult and, it being the first match, it's very important for all of the teams."

• Scotland are in the finals for the third successive season, all of them under former international midfielder Scot Gemmill. "We're trying to work towards giving our players experience at this level and for three years we've managed to do that," he told UEFA.com. "We'd like to think that the team's determination, togetherness and intensity helps us to achieve good results." Former Leciester City player Gemmill took time to congratulate the Foxes on their shock Premier League title triumph, telling one local reporter: "They have a very good team mentality and work ethic – they're about more than individual players."

Suspended: Jules Vanhaecke (Belgium)

Azerbaijan v Portugal (18.00, Baku Olympic Stadium)
• Tabriz Hasanov wants his players to use to their advantage the backing from the sizeable crowd expected to turn out for Azerbaijan's opener. Opposite number Hélio Sousa put the figure at a potential tournament-record 30,000, saying it would be "a unique experience" for his charges. Hasanov, for his part, said: "The promotion of the competition has been great in the city, there are many banners and so on, so we expect a really big attendance tomorrow. We hope the support of all the fans in the stands gives us a big boost."

• Not since 2003, and a team featuring João Moutinho and Miguel Veloso, have Portugal been U17 European champions. With the Iberian side back in the mix after a year away from the finals, Hélio Sousa said: "It's a pleasure to be in this competition, it’s great for the players." The one-cap former Portuguese international was forthcoming in his praise of the hosts. "Azerbaijan are a good team with a sound identity in terms of how they want to play."

Group B


Austria v Bosnia and Herzegovina (12.00, 8km Stadium, Baku)
• Debutants Bosnia and Herzegovina represent the first hurdle for Austria to overcome in what coach Andreas Heraf regards as a testing group. "It will be tough to get through because Germany, one of the tournament favourites, are in there, while Ukraine and Bosnia are two difficult teams to play," he said. "[The Bosnians are] making their debut, but they've played in the qualifiers for many years. Every team here has quality, Bosnia too, so we have to focus on ourselves."

• Bosnia and Herzegovina coach Sakib Malkočević aims to "spring a surprise" in Baku, although he knows the scale of the task facing his squad. Malkočević is taking heart from an elite round victory over Italy and the fact Bosnia and Herzegovina pipped Russia to second place in that group in a three-way head-to-head to qualify as one of the seven best runners-up. "That shows we can compete with the biggest nations," he said. "It has boosted our confidence, but we have three tough matches ahead of us."


Ukraine v Germany (15.00, Baku Olympic Stadium)
• Oleksandr Petrakov has vowed to "make history" by guiding Ukraine into the knockout stage for the first time. Ukraine have appeared at four previous U17 final tournaments (2002, 2004, 2007, 2013) and on each occasion failed to get out of their group. "I remember all of those, but I did not tell the players – there was no reason to," answered Petrakov. "Those setbacks had one thing in common: a lack of self-belief. We want to break that tradition."

• Ukraine conceded only two goals as they topped their qualifying and elite round sections. Consequently, Germany coach Meikel Schönweitz reckons his side's first opponents will be "pretty defensive, so we will try to launch a lot of counterattacks". Key to that will be forward Renat Dadashov, no doubt keen to impress in his parents' homeland. Leipzig's Dadashov is part of a new cohort whose predecessors reached the final in Bulgaria in 2015. "In every game we want to achieve our maximum level," explained Schönweitz. "If we can do that, we'll see how long we stay in Azerbaijan."

Suspended: Yuriy Kozyrenko (Ukraine), Atakan Akkaynak (Germany)


Group C
France v Denmark
England v Sweden

Group D
Italy v Serbia
Netherlands v Spain

Follow @UEFAcom for updates from Azerbaijan, join the conversation using #U17EURO and download the official tournament programme.