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©INPHO Ireland: will be in Pot 2 for next month's draw in Nice.
# Euro 2016
Ireland confirmed as second seeds in Euro 2016 draw
Qualifying draw takes place in Nice on 23 February.

Updated 13.20

IRELAND’S HOPES OF qualifying for the 2016 European Championships were boosted today with confirmation that they will be a second seed in next month’s draw.

Martin O’Neill’s side have been ranked among Europe’s second tier and will avoid tricky clashes with Sweden, Belgium, Ukraine and Croatia on the road to France 2016.

With only two automatic qualification spots available in each group, seeding gives Ireland a stronger chance of success.

Denmark, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Hungary are the other second seeds that Ireland cannot face when the qualifying draw takes place in Nice on 23 February.

The draw will divide 53 countries into nine groups — eight groups of six and one group of five.

In a new move France, who have already qualified as hosts, will be “partnered” with the five-team group to play friendlies.

England, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands must be in six-team groups for television rights reasons. For political reasons the UEFA Executive Committee has also ruled that Azerbaijan cannot meet Armenia, and Spain cannot play Gibraltar.

The 2016 tournament will be first European Championships since the decision to expand it to 24 teams. The top two teams in each group will qualify for the finals along with the third-placed side with the best record.

The remaining eight third-placed teams will play off in November 2015 for the remaining four spots.

Ireland’s first qualifier will take place on 7-9 September 2014. Under UEFA’s new ‘Week of Football’ concept, games in each international break will be played across a Thursday to Tuesday window with double-headers on Thursday/Sunday, Friday/Monday or Saturday/Tuesday.

Euro 2016 qualifying draw – seedings

Pot 1: Spain (holders), Germany, Netherlands, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Pot 2: Ukraine, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Hungary, Republic of Ireland

Pot 3: Serbia, Turkey, Slovenia, Israel, Norway, Slovakia, Romania, Austria, Poland

Pot 4: Montenegro, Armenia, Scotland, Finland, Latvia, Wales, Bulgaria, Estonia, Belarus

Pot 5: Iceland, Northern Ireland, Albania, Lithuania, Moldova, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Cyprus

Pot 6: Luxembourg, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Faroe Islands, Malta, Andorra, San Marino, Gibraltar

– First published 12.51

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