UEFA join U-17 mix

New Zealand and France at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Chile 2015. Image: FIFA via Getty

With Turkey, Spain, England, Germany and France confirmed as UEFA’s representatives, New Zealand and New Caledonia can expect some tough assignments at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in October.

Turkey were the first side to secure their spot after a 1-0 victory over Hungary in their UEFA U-17 European Championship quarter-final in Croatia last Friday. The side earned their first appearance in the world competition since Nigeria 2009 after a Hungary own goal edged Turkey ahead in the otherwise inseparable encounter.

Spain will also be making their first appearance in the FIFA U-17 World Cup since 2009 after beating France 3-1 in last Friday’s second quarter-final. France earned the early lead in the opening minutes of the match but Spain lifted intensity and soon replied with the equaliser. A penalty to Spain saw them in the lead at half time, then a third goal shortly after the break confirmed Spain’s return to the world competition.

England earned their place in the World Cup and the UEFA U-17 European championship the next day, defeating Republic of Ireland 1-0. Finding the net in the 13th minute, England held out their Irish opponents to qualify for a second consecutive U-17 World Cup.

Saturday’s other quarter-final saw Germany come from behind to defeat the Netherlands 2-1. The Dutch looked like the stronger side in the first half, taking the lead just before half-time, but Germany turned things decisively in their favour after the break. An equaliser in the second half left both sides neck-and-neck until the last minute, but a powerful shot from Germany edged them ahead just before the final whistle. Like England, Germany’s win sees them qualify for a second consecutive U-17 World Cup.

After their defeat to Spain in the quarter final, France claimed Europe’s final berth with a 1-0 against Hungary in the play-off match between the best-ranked losing quarter-finalists. France had lost 3-2 to Hungary in the group stage but claimed revenge in a much tighter encounter, needing only one goal to surpass wasted chances from the Hungarians.

The fates of New Zealand, New Caledonia and the UEFA contenders will be determined at the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 draw, which will be held in Mumbai on 7 July.

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