UEFA Under-21 Championship: Tough draw for Malta

Malta was drawn with Sweden, Ukraine, Finland, Slovenia and Lithuania in Group 2 of the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying round. The draw was held in Nyon on Thursday.

With Israel automatically qualifying for the finals in June 2013 as hosts, the remaining 52 teams were drawn into ten groups, eight with five sides and two with six, with the nations allocated to five draw pots in accordance with their coefficient ranking.

Group stage matches will be played according to a standard, home and away, league system, kicking off on 25 March this year and concluding with the final games on 10 September 2012. The ten group winners and four best runners-up will move on to the following month’s play-offs, with the winners of those seven two-legged ties joining Israel in the final tournament.

The fixtures were agreed during a meeting which was held following the draws. Seven of the matches will be played this year: vs Finland (away) on June 3, vs Lithuania (away) on June 7, vs Slovenia (home) on September 2, vs Finland (home) on September 6, vs Ukraine (home) on October 7, vs Lithuania (home) on October 11, vs Sweden (home) on November 15.

The final three matches will be played away from home next year: vs Slovenia on June 1, vs Sweden on June 6 and vs Ukraine on September 6

The Malta Under-21 side is now coached by Ray ‘Zazu’ Farrugia, assisted by Ronald Vella. The team will be playing a friendly match on Wednesday against the Primavera side of Italian Serie A club Catania. The match will be played at the Stadio Comunale di Pedara, kick-off at 15:30.

Qualifying Round draw:
Group 1: Germany, Belarus, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, San Marino
Group 2: Sweden, Ukraine, Finland, Slovenia, Lithuania, Malta
Group 3: Czech Republic, Wales, Armenia, Montenegro, Andorra
Group 4: Serbia, Denmark, Northern Ireland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Faroe Islands
Group 5: Spain, Switzerland, Croatia, Georgia, Estonia
Group 6: Russia, Portugal, Moldova, Poland, Albania
Group 7: Italy, Turkey, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Liechtenstein
Group 8: England, Belgium, Iceland, Norway, Azerbaijan
Group 9: Romania, France, Slovakia, Latvia, Kazakhstan
Group 10: Netherlands, Austria, Scotland, Bulgaria, Luxembourg