Irish U21s draw Italy in UEFA EURO 2013 qualifiers

The Republic of Ireland U21 side will face Italy, Turkey, Hungary and Liechtenstein in the UEFA U21 European Championship 2013 qualifiers following the draw which was made in Nyon, Switzerland today.

The eight team finals will take place in Israel in June 2013 will include hosts, Israel and the winners of seven play-off fixtures which include the ten group winners and four best runners-up. The group stage begins on 25 March 2011.

Noel King's side begin their campaign at home to Hungary on September 1, 2011 before an away fixture in Turkey five days later. Most notably however, the Republic of Ireland will host top seeds, Italy on June 4, 2012.

Speaking after the draw, Republic of Ireland manager, Noel King said, "Obviously this is a very difficult draw as 4th seeds but overall I am happy with the teams drawn and the fixtures which were agreed. Italy are former European champions at this level and if we want to develop as a team, we need to be pitting ourselves against sides with the quality of teams like Italy. I have no doubt that I will be in touch with Giovanni Trapattoni and Marco Tardelli over the coming months about this Italian team," he joked.

"We are more than aware of the dangers that Turkey will provide after tasting defeat in our two meetings in our last qualifying campaign. While they will pose a real threat for us in the group, we have already learned a lot about them in those previous games and it will be a great opportunity for us to come up against them again. Hungary who are third seeds in this group have a fabulous tradition in football and while they have not been a footballing force at this level for some time, being seeded ahead of us demands that we still respect them and take nothing for granted, as Irish football fans will remember only too well the famous 0-0 draw that Liechtenstein achieved over Jack Charlton's team in the EURO '96 qualifiers," he added.

UEFA U21 European Championship 2013 - Fixtures
Thursday 01st September 2011 - Ireland v Hungary
Tuesday 06th September 2011 - Turkey v Ireland
Tuesday 11th October 2011 - Liechtenstein v Ireland
Monday 14th November 2011 - Ireland v Liechtenstein
Monday 04th June 2012 - Ireland v Italy
Tuesday 14th August 2012 - Ireland v Turkey
Thursday 06th September 2012 - Hungary v Ireland
Monday 10th September 2012 - Italy v Ireland

Note: The top team in each group and 4 best 2nd places go through to the play-offs on 12th and 16th October 2012.

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