Malta drawn with Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland in Women’s European Qualifiers

Malta was drawn with Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland in Group B3 in the Women’s European Qualifiers following the draws which were held on Tuesday by UEFA Head of Women’s Football Nadine Kessler and former Swiss international Gaelle Thalmann.

Portugal reached the group stage of the UEFA Women’s EURO in 2017 and 2022 and the group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 while Northern Ireland made it to group stage of the UEFA Women’s EURO in 2022. Bosnia and Herzegovina have never qualified. Portugal are currently ranked 21st, Northern Ireland 46th and Bosnia and Herzegovina 64th compared to Malta’s 86th place.

The new-look Women’s European Qualifiers will run from April to December 2024 and decide the 15 teams joining hosts Switzerland at UEFA Women’s EURO 2025.

The European Qualifiers league stage is played in the same format as the UEFA Women’s Nations League, with teams split into three leagues: League A with 16 teams, League B with 16 teams and League C with 19 teams.

In qualifying, as per the Nations League league stage, teams compete in groups of four or three teams (League C) and over six matchdays between April and July, with each team playing one home match and one away match against all the other teams in their group.

Qualifying matchdays 1 & 2: 3–9 April 2024
Qualifying matchdays 3 & 4: 29 May–4 June 2024
Qualifying matchdays 5 & 6: 10–16 July 2024

For qualifying itself, the top two teams in each League A group will gain places in the July 2025 finals alongside hosts Switzerland. The remaining seven spots will be decided by two rounds of play-offs in October and November/December.

The first round of the play-offs is in two paths. In one path, the teams finishing third and fourth in League A will play the five group winners and three best-ranked runners-up in League C. The eight winners progress to the second round.

In the other first-round path, the four group winners and two best-ranked runners-up in League B will be drawn into six ties against the remaining two runners-up and four third-placed teams in League B. The six winners progress to the second round.

In the second round, the teams from both paths come together and will be drawn into seven ties. The seven winners progress to the final tournament.

Play-off round 1 (2 legs): 23–29 October 2024
Play-off round 2 (2 legs): 27 November–3 December 2024

Meanwhile promotion and relegation will also be at stake ahead of the next UEFA Women’s Nations League, beginning the 2025–27 competition cycle:

• The winners, runners-up and third-placed teams of League A stay in League A

• The runners-up and three best-ranked third-placed teams in League B stay in League B

• The runners-up, third-placed and fourth-placed teams in League C stay in League C

• The winners of Leagues B and C will be promoted to the next league

• All fourth-placed teams in Leagues A and B, as well as the lowest-ranked third-placed team of League B, will be relegated to the next league

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League A
Group A1: Netherlands, Italy, Norway, Finland.
Group A2: Spain, Denmark, Belgium, Czechia.
Group A3: France, England, Sweden, Republic of Ireland.
Group A4: Germany, Austria, Iceland, Poland.

League B
Group B1: Switzerland, Hungary, Turkiye, Azerbaijan.
Group B2: Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, Israel.
Group B3: Portugal, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, Malta
Group B4: Wales, Croatia, Ukraine, Kosovo.

League C
Group C1: Belarus, Lithuania, Cyprus, Georgia.
Group C2: Slovenia, Latvia, North Macedonia, Moldova.
Group C3: Greece, Montenegro, Andorra, Faroe Islands.
Group C4: Romania, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Armenia.
Group C5: Albania, Estonia, Luxembourg.