Malta was drawn in Group A of the UEFA Under-17 Championship finals together with England, Netherlands and Turkey – a tournament which will be hosted in Malta between May 9 and 21. The draws were held by UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee chairman Jim Boyce and tournament ambassadors Fr Hilary Tagliaferro and David Carabott on Wednesday at St. James Cavalier, Valletta.
Germany, Switzerland, Scotland and Portugal were drawn in Group B.
The group stage matches will be disputed on 9, 12 and 15 May at the National Stadium, the Hibernians Stadium and the Gozo Stadium. The top two from each section advance to the semi-finals on 18 May at Ta’ Qali, where the final will also be held three days later.
Photo: Copyright © domenic aquilina
Winners in 2011 and 2012, the Netherlands were first to qualify after seeing off France 3-1 on home soil in Uden. Turkey made a bit of history in Group 2 as they beat Poland on penalties for Group 2 first place in Greece after a final-day draw with both teams dead level while England downed Italy in their last match to achieve maximum points in Group 4.
Switzerland scored a late winner against Spain to pip both them and holders Russia in Group 1; Germany held Group 5 hosts Serbia in a decisive game to progress on goal difference while Scotland reached their first championship for six years with a game to spare at home in Group 6, something another mini-tournament host Portugal managed in Group 7.
In a short address before the draws, MFA President Norman Darmanin Demajo said that when UEFA entrusted the association with the organisation of the tournament, the association was happy and challenged to organise the event as they were aware of the magnitude of this challenge. He said the MFA got exciting response from football lovers and is now looking forward to Malta’s participation in the tournament.
The MFA President said while the organisation of the UEFA Under-17 Championship finals will find its place in our football history, it will also give a boost to grassroots development.
“We might not win many points but we will surely win your hearts with our warm welcome and hospitality,” concluded Darmanin Demajo.
Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo said Malta was used to having big events held here and is now looking forward to having an exciting festival of football where “future stars will shine in the blue sky.”
UEFA Youth and Amateur Football Committee chairman Jim Boyce said the most important aspect of such tournaments is the fact that football brings people together. He thanked the MFA for the wonderful reception and said he is looking forward to exciting finals.
MD1 MALTA vs England
Netherlands vs Turkey
MD2 MALTA vs Netherlands
England vs Turkey
MD3 Turkey vs MALTA
England vs Netherlands
MD1 Germany vs Switzerland
Scotland vs Portugal
MD2 Germany vs Scotland
Switzerland vs Portugal
MD3 Portugal vs Germany
Switzerland vs Scotland