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Switzerland steeled for Group 3 tests

Hosts Switzerland take on a Georgia side with plenty of pedigree while Israel and Cyprus are both looking to put past elite-round disappointments behind them.

Israel are hoping to have something to celebrate at last in the elite round
Israel are hoping to have something to celebrate at last in the elite round ©Oded Karni, IFA

Having qualified for their first finals last year, Georgia will be strong contenders again with the core of Vasil Maisuradze's side reaching the 2012 UEFA European Under-17 Championship semi-finals. Maisuradze's club FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi, which forms the backbone of his U19 squad, defeated eventual UEFA Youth League winners FC Barcelona 1-0 in a friendly with further wins against Galatasaray AŞ (2-1) and Kasımpaşa SK (4-1) before a 1-1 draw against FC Bayern München's U19 side. Georgia lost 2-1 to both hosts Portugal and the Czech Republic at a friendly tournament, although they did defeat Russia 4-2. "Switzerland, our first rivals, are very strong side and I've got a high opinion of Israel and Cyprus but we hope to surprise the other teams too," said Maisuradze.

Qualifying round: Wales 5-1, Moldova 2-0, Netherlands 2-1 (Group 11 winners)

Key players: Nika Chanturia (defender, FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi), Mate Tsintsadze (midfielder, FC Dinamo Tbilisi), Giorgi Papunashvili (midfielder, FC Dinamo Tbilisi), Luka Zarandia (forward, FC Lokomotivi Tbilisi)

Israel have never reached the U19 finals, but got this far in 2011 and 2012 and achieved a notable qualifying scalp by defeating Italy. "I'm positive that we can do it this time," said coach Eli Ohana. "We can come, play to our style, give the right amount of respect to our opponents and build on the win over a team like Italy a few months ago."

Qualifying round: Italy 2-0, Denmark 1-3, Liechtenstein 9-0 (Group 10 winners)

Key players: Ramzi Safuri (forward, Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC), Michael Ohana (forward, FC Ashdod), Eden Shamir (midfielder, Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC), Sagiv Jehezkel (forward, Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC)

Having qualified for the elite round with a match to spare, coach Gérard Castella said: "The key to success was the collective and being efficient." While the recent friendly against Italy resulted in a 4-2 loss, Castella was not entirely displeased: "In attack, we had lots of good moves, we could have scored two more goals no problem. We deserve the defeat, though, because we made too many mistakes in defence. We were not present in the decisive areas and not good enough in challenges. With more will to run and more determination, a better result would have been on the cards."

Qualifying round: Andorra 4-0, Slovenia 3-1, England 0-1 (Group 9 runners-up)

Key players: Tarashaj Shani (forward, Grasshopper Club), Aragundi Miguel Castroman (midfielder, BSC Young Boys), Baumann Novem (goalkeeper, FC Zürich)

Having lost out in the elite round in the last two seasons, Cyprus will be hoping it is third time lucky in Switzerland. Yiannos Stavrinos' side scored twice in added time in their final qualifying fixture against Gibraltar to nudge ahead of Croatia on goals scored. "We'll be looking to make a big push in Switzerland," said Stavrinos. "Our opponents may not be massive names but they are still excellent sides." APOEL FC midfielder Christos Djamas – who scored the deciding goal against Gibraltar – added: "We're always thought of as outsiders but we have shown that we can take points off our opponents."

Qualifying round: Czech Republic 1-4, Croatia 2-2, Gibraltar 7-0 (Group 1 runners-up)

Key players: Christos Djamas (midfielder, APOEL FC), Antreas Makris (forward, Anorthosis Famagusta FC), Leandros Lillis (forward, AEL Limassol FC), Antreas Karo (defender, Nottingham Forest FC)