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Netherlands ready to kick off title defence

Just 48 days after capturing their maiden title the Netherlands will begin their defence amid six days of qualifying action that also sees a pair of mouth-watering rematches.

The Netherlands won their first title in July
The Netherlands won their first title in July ©Sportsfile

Some 48 days after lifting the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship title for the first time, the Netherlands kick off their 2014/15 campaign on Saturday as the qualifying round gets under way.

André Koolhof's side, who beat Spain to lift the trophy in Norway at the end of July, take on the Faroe Islands in the first of three games in six days. Latvia and Group 5 hosts Serbia await the Dutch on Monday and Thursday respectively, with only the section winners guaranteed a place in April's elite round.

The holders are one of seven of this summer's finalists returning to competitive action – England have been given a bye along with fellow top seeds Germany and France. Indeed, four of the finalists will be involved in head-to-heads, with Scotland and Sweden seeking revenge for defeats that ended their 2014 ambitions.

Sweden are in Group 6 where they will tackle the Republic of Ireland, who seven weeks ago continued their remarkable introduction to the finals by overcoming the 2012 champions to seal a semi-final spot at the Scandinavians' expense. Meanwhile Scotland will try to avoid a repeat of their 5-0 loss to Norway in Group 3, which also includes a strong Poland outfit.

Ireland were surprise packages in Norway
Ireland were surprise packages in Norway©Sportsfile

All 44 teams play on Saturday, Monday and Thursday, with the group winners and the ten runners-up with the best records against the sides first and third in their section advancing to the elite round. Seven teams will eventually qualify for the finals in Israel, alongside the hosts.

Full fixture list

2014/15 qualifying round
Group 1:
Spain, Iceland, Croatia, Lithuania

Group 2: Denmark, Ukraine, Cyprus, Azerbaijan

Group 3: Norway, Scotland, Poland, Albania

Group 4: Italy, Wales, Turkey, Kazakhstan

Group 5: Netherlands, Serbia, Faroe Islands, Latvia

Group 6: Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Moldova, Montenegro

Group 7: Czech Republic, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Malta

Group 8: Portugal, Russia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Belarus

Group 9: Belgium, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia

Group 10: Finland, Northern Ireland, Greece, Georgia

Group 11: Switzerland, Austria, Slovakia, Bulgaria

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