The journey to the 2013 UEFA European Under-17 Championship in Slovakia has begun with the draw for the qualifying round.
Seven teams will join hosts Slovakia in the final tournament, but before that the 52 hopefuls compete next autumn for 28 elite round places. Among the 13 groups formed by the draw – conducted by Jim Boyce, chairman of the UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee, and 2011 winning Netherlands captain Daan Disveld, in Nyon to receive the Fair Play trophy on behalf of his team – the Dutch have been matched with Belgium and two other neighbours in Latvia and Lithuania, who made it past the qualifying round for the first time this season.
The 13 groups contain two teams from each of the seeding pots, with the hosts to be appointed shortly. The top two in each group along with the two third-placed teams with the best record against the leading pair will progress to the elite round in March 2013. The elite round group winners then join hosts Slovakia in the final tournament that May, which will also act as a qualifier for the FIFA U-17 World Cup, to be staged later that year in the United Arab Emirates.
Qualifying round draw
Group 1 (25-30 September): Belarus, Serbia*, Moldova, Armenia
Group 2 (3-8 October): Finland*, Germany, Andorra, San Marino
Group 3 (23-28 October): Belgium*, Netherlands, Lithuania, Latvia
Group 4 (19-24 October): Spain, Poland, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria*
Group 5 (24-29 September): Greece, France, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina*
Group 6 (10-15 October): Austria*, Switzerland, Cyprus, Faroe Islands
Group 7 (21-26 October): England, Northern Ireland, Estonia*, Wales
Group 8 (18-23 October): Italy, Hungary*, Albania, Liechtenstein
Group 9 (29 September-4 October): Norway, Portugal, Malta*, Iceland
Group 10 (29 September-4 October): Republic of Ireland, Romania, Sweden, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*
Group 11 (25-30 September): Denmark, Czech Republic*, Montenegro, Russia
Group 12 (14-19 October): Turkey, Croatia*, Kazakhstan, Israel
Group 13 (30 October-4 November): Scotland, Georgia*, Luxembourg, Ukraine
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