The opening qualifiers are a few months away and England have laid down a marker by winning a strong six-nation tournament in the Netherlands.
The opening qualifiers for the first UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship are a few months away and England have laid down a marker by winning a strong six-nations tournament in the Netherlands.
England and the hosts were up against the Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Russia and a United States selection, with extra incentive for the European quintet with the new tournament kicking off next autumn ahead of the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand. The hosts were in with the US and Ireland in their group, while England took on Scotland and Russia, the pool winners to meet in the final.
Dutch top group
It proved a happy opening for the Netherlands they defeated Ireland 2-1, Amy Ryan’s sixth-minute goal bested by Cynthia Beekhius’s free-kick and Gise Le Frakin’s 65th minute winner. Ireland then lost 3-0 to the Americans, but that team then were defeated by Vanity Lewerissa’s 40th goal that gave the Dutch a 1-0 win and a final place.
England raced into a 2-0 lead in their opener against Scotland through two Sarah Wiltshire goals. Scotland pulled one back and although Toni Duggan struck for England, their neighbours went on to secure a 3-3 draw. However, Scotland were to lose 2-1 to Russia, but England then secure a final berth with a 4-0 victory against that opposition courtesy of two Duggan goals, Wiltshire and Chelsea Weston.
In the positional matches, Ireland took fifth spot with a 2-1 win against Scotland, and the Americans beat Russia by the same score for bronze. England struck on 20 minutes through Duggan in the final, but early in the second half Lianne de Vries equalised. Extra time could not separate the teams, and the shoot-out went to sudden death before Mandy Versteegt missed and Michelle Hinnigan struck the clincher for England.
England coach Lois Fidler told TheFA.com: "The players thoroughly deserve the success as they put in a series of gutsy, team performances and in every game they had to contend with something different. With a new UEFA tournament starting in October, this tournament will play an important part in the selection process, and at the start of the week we wanted to give the players all some match action, experience of the rest and recovery strategies they'll need as they move up through the system."
Indeed, England begin their first qualifying round campaign in Group 10 on 23 October, playing Russia, Georgia and Slovakia. The Netherlands, in Group 2, face Poland, Greece and Azerbaijan, Scotland take on Hungary, Northern Ireland and Croatia in Group 8 while Ireland are up against Group 6 rivals Sweden, Moldova and Turkey. Sixteen teams progress to the next stage, with four sides in the finals next spring.