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Qualifying for 16-team U17 finals starts

A new era for the UEFA European Under-17 Championship begins on Friday when qualifying for the first 16-team finals in 12 years starts with a mini-tournament in Slovenia.

England hope to retain their title
England hope to retain their title ©Domenic Aquilina

A new era for the UEFA European Under-17 Championship begins on Friday when qualifying starts for the first 16-team final tournament in 12 years.

The U17 competition was launched in 2001/02 with the same 16-nation showpiece as its precedessor U16 event – but from the following season only eight teams qualified. However, the 2014/15 finals in Bulgaria next May will contain 16 sides once more, with 53 hopefuls vying for 15 slots alongside the hosts.

Road to Bulgaria
• The qualifying round runs from Friday to 29 October with 52 teams split into 13 one-venue mini-tournaments.

• The top two in each group and the five third-placed sides with the best record against the leading pair in their section will progress to the elite round in March along with Germany, who have received a bye due to their coefficient ranking.

• The 32 elite round contenders will be divided into eight groups of four, with the winners and the seven runners-up with the best record against the teams first and third in their section qualifying for the finals.

• Full details including the final tournament schedule can be found in the official competition regulations.

Qualifying round groups
Group 1 (22–27 September):
Scotland, Republic of Ireland*, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar

Group 2 (26–31 October): Poland, Georgia*, Estonia, Liechtenstein

Group 3 (15–20 October): Iceland, Italy, Moldova*, Armenia

Group 4 (25–30 October): England (holders), France, Cyprus*, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Group 5 (25–30 September): Ukraine, Sweden, Greece, Latvia*

Group 6 (19–24 September): Turkey, Portugal, Slovenia*, Northern Ireland

Group 7 (21–26 October): Croatia, Hungary*, Kazakhstan, Israel

Group 8 (17–22 October): Serbia*, Netherlands, Malta, Finland

Group 9 (8–13 October): Austria, Norway, San Marino, Albania*

Group 10 (23–28 October): Belgium*, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Group 11 (24–29 October): Slovakia*, Spain, Luxembourg, Lithuania

Group 12 (25–30 September): Czech Republic, Denmark, Romania, Andorra*

Group 13 (19–24 October): Russia, Belarus*, Wales, Montenegro


Bye to elite round (draw 10.40CET, 3 December): Germany

Bye to finals (6–22 May): Bulgaria (hosts)