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Stephen Kenny learns Ireland's opponents for U21 Euro qualifiers

The draw was made this morning in Switzerland, with the campaign due to begin at home to Luxembourg next March.

Republic of Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny.
Republic of Ireland U21 manager Stephen Kenny.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Updated Dec 11th 2018, 12:25 PM

STEPHEN KENNY WILL have to steer his side through a group headed up by Italy if the Republic of Ireland are to qualify for the U21 European Championships for the first time.

The draw for the 2021 U21 Euros — a tournament which will be jointly hosted by Hungary and Slovenia — was made this morning in Nyon, Switzerland.

Ireland, who were fourth seeds, were drawn in Group 1. They’re joined by Italy, Sweden, Iceland, Armenia and Luxembourg. 

The nine group winners qualify automatically for the 12-team tournament. Runners-up with the best records against the teams first, third, fourth and fifth in their group will enter a play-off to seal the last finals place. Hungary and Slovenia qualify automatically as hosts.

“There are a number of teams in our group with great pedigree,” said Kenny. “Italy got to the U19 European Championship finals recently so to test ourselves against these teams is going to be a great experience.

“With the two hosts qualifying automatically, there are only two play-off spots for qualification which in reality means we’ve got to finish top to qualify. For us to do that, we’ll have to achieve something extraordinary.

It’s great to start the campaign in March at home and four home games next year for us which is exciting for the players. We won’t have much preparation time before the first game but that is the challenge and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I need to go out and see all of the players across Ireland, England and Scotland to see which players are in form and who could come into the squad for March. The work starts straight away.”

Kenny was recently appointed to succeed Noel King as Ireland U21 manager. However, as he’s due to take over from Mick McCarthy as senior boss in August 2020, Kenny is scheduled to leave the U21 post prior to the final fixture in this qualifying campaign.

The 2021 U21 European Championship qualifiers will begin in March 2019 with a home game against Luxembourg. 

Ireland’s U21 European Championship qualifying fixtures:

2019

Mar 24: Luxembourg (h)
Sept 6: Armenia (h)
Sept 10: Sweden (a)
Oct 10: Italy (h)
Oct 15: Iceland (a)
Nov 14: Armenia (a)
Nov 19: Sweden: (h)

2020

Mar 26: Iceland (h)
Mar 31: Luxembourg (a)
Oct 13: Italy (a)

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About the author:

Paul Dollery

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