The draw was made for the Women’s 2017 Euro’s on Monday.
The tournament will be held in the Netherlands and it will be the first time that the field is expanded to sixteen teams rather than twelve or eight as in the previous editions.
The qualifying system is as follows:
The group winners and the six best runners-up will join the hosts, the Netherlands, in the final tournament in summer 2017.
The other two runners-up will play off in October 2016 for the remaining berth.
Qualifying group stage draw
Group 1: Iceland, Scotland, Belarus, Slovenia, FYR Macedonia
Group 2: Spain, Finland, Republic of Ireland, Portugal, Montenegro
Group 6: Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Northern Ireland, Georgia
Group 7: England, Belgium, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia
Group 8: Norway, Austria, Wales, Israel, Kazakhstan
England have an easy group with Belgium the toughest opponent on paper. They are an improving nation but not at the same level as their men’s side. Estonia are managed by Keith Boanas, the former Charlton Women’s manager.
Vicky Losada and Natalia Sanchon’s Spain will play Emma Byrne’s Ireland and as well as Finland who are also an improving side. It should be a three-horse race for the top two places in that group.
Caroline Weir and Emma Mitchell’s Scotland will aim to qualify for their first ever finals and have a big chance of making it this time around. The top seed, Iceland, is beatable and the other three teams are not at the same level. Slovenia were recently beaten 6-0 by France u19 side for example.
Northern Ireland have a tough group with Italy and Switzerland being two very good European team and Wales will take on Norway and Austria for the top two places in their group.
England and Scotland should qualify, Ireland and Wales should be able to make the top two in their respective groups while Northern Ireland will do their best and push up towards second place.