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King’s Under 21’s Seek To Make History After Euro Draw

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REPUBLIC of Ireland U21 Head Coach  Noel King today gave his reaction to the UEFA U21 Championships 2017 Qualifying Round draw which has grouped his side with Italy, Serbia, Slovenia, Lithuania and Andorra.

Group Two top seeds Italy have won this competition more often than any other nation – five times – while second seeds Serbia were champions once previously and won the UEFA U19 Championships in 2013 with the squad who will compete in this qualifying round.

“It’s obviously a tough draw because Serbia are European champions at the 1994 age group so the second seed is as strong as any top seed. Italy will always be at top seed level,” said King.

“Having said that, there is no team in the group that I wouldn’t have realistic ambition of getting something from.

“We took four points from six with Italy when we played them with the 1990 age-group so it shows we can take points from them but I’m sure they’ll be just as aware of that fact as we are.”

All things considered King is heading into the campaign full of optimism that his side can make history by becoming the first Ireland U21 side to reach a UEFA finals. The finals will take place in Poland in 2017.

“We have to believe we can get out of the group. Italy and Serbia are major powers so they’ll be the top teams for everybody but I’ll be setting the target of topping the group if we can. I know that’s some statement to make but we have to believe we can do it,” he said.

Ireland will host their opening fixture at home to Andorra on Thursday, March 26, with the venue to be confirmed in the coming days.

“We’ll start off against Andorra, we’ll be the favourites for that but we have to produce a performance to justify that,” added King.

“After we play Andorra home and away we have Lithuania at home next and while we’ll have to learn more about that I’d expect we’ll be favourites for that too before we play Italy.

“I’m very much looking forward to the campaign. There’s nothing like the real thing.  Our analyst Gary Seery has already got a lot of information about the teams we’ll be facing and we’ll be very well prepared for the first game next month.”

The full fixture list and dates are:

DATE

OPPONENT

Thursday, 26th March 2015  

Republic of Ireland v Andorra

Tuesday, 8th September 2015

Andorra v Republic of Ireland

Friday, 9th October 2015

Republic of Ireland v Lithuania

Tuesday, 13th October 2015

Italy v Republic of Ireland

Friday, 13th November 2015

Lithuania v Republic of Ireland

Thursday, 24th March 2016

Republic of Ireland v Italy

Monday, 28th March 2016

Slovenia v Republic of Ireland

Friday, 2nd September 2016

Republic of Ireland v Slovenia

Tuesday, 6th September 2016

Serbia v Republic of Ireland

Friday, 7th October 2016

Republic of Ireland v Serbia

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