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U19 hopefuls set out on long road to Lithuania

Forty-eight teams begin their quest for a place in next summer's UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Lithuania when the qualifying round kicks off on Wednesday.

The UEFA European Under-19 Championship trophy
The UEFA European Under-19 Championship trophy ©Sportsfile

It is less than two months since Spain lifted the UEFA European Under-19 Championship for the sixth time yet 48 of the teams who will seek to dethrone La Roja this season begin their campaigns over the next few weeks.

The holders are one of three teams, along with Serbia and Turkey, given a bye into the elite round next spring, while Lithuania qualify automatically for a final tournament they will stage between 20 July and 1 August 2013. Estonia, who hosted the last edition, will stage the first qualifying round section to kick off with Ukraine, England and the Faroe Islands also in Group 12 from 26 September.

That is the first of 12 qualifying round groups to get under way, with the action concluding on 26 November as Finland, Denmark and Montenegro compete with hosts Cyprus in Group 2. The top two teams in each section, and the third-placed team with the best record against the leading pair in their section, progress to the elite round.

2012/13 UEFA European Under-19 Championship qualifying round
Group 1: Austria, Hungary*, Andorra, Bulgaria (2-7 November)
Group 2: Finland, Denmark, Montenegro, Cyprus* (21-26 November)
Group 3: Poland*, Netherlands, San Marino, Malta (9-14 October)
Group 4: Czech Republic, Greece, Northern Ireland*, Moldova (10-15 October)
Group 5: Germany, Republic of Ireland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Luxembourg* (11-16 October)
Group 6: France, Portugal*, Israel, Latvia (11-16 October)
Group 7: Belgium, Italy, Belarus, Albania* (12-17 October)
Group 8: Slovakia, Norway, Kazakhstan, Bosnia and Herzegovina (11-16 October)
Group 9: Scotland*, Switzerland, Armenia, Romania (9-14 October)
Group 10: Wales, Russia, Sweden, Slovenia* (10-15 October)
Group 11: Croatia*, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iceland (26-31 October)
Group 12: Ukraine, England, Faroe Islands, Estonia* (26-28 September)