Colin Bell's Ireland drawn against Germany in Euro 2021 qualifying group
The Irish women's soccer team have been handed a tough task in their bid to qualify for the 2021 European Championships after drawing top-ranked Germany in their group.
The Germans are currently ranked number two in the world, just behind the USA and have previously won two World Cups and a record eight European Championships. The last of those victories came in Euro '13. Ukraine, Greece and Montenegro make up the rest of the qualifying group
The winners of each of the nine groups and the three best runners-up will qualify automatically for the tournament. The remaining six runners-up will face a two legged play-off for the last three spots to join hosts, England in the finals.
Colin Bell's side entered the draw as third seeds are were drawn in group I at today's draw in Nyon. While Germany will be odds on favourites to top the group, second seeds Ukraine are only ranked 24th in the FIFA rankings at present, nine places above the Girls in Green.
Although Ireland have yet to qualify for a major finals, they performed well in the recent World Cup qualification. A creditable away draw against current European champions the Netherlands was followed by wins home and away against Slovakia and Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, home defeats to the Netherlands and Norway before the second Northern Ireland game ultimately saw them finish third.
Northern Ireland will compete against Norway, Wales, Belarus and the Faroe Islands in their qualification attempt.
The qualifying begins in August this year and runs to September 2020, with the play-offs scheduled for the following month.
Group A: Netherlands (holders), Russia, Slovenia, Turkey, Kosovo, Estonia
Group B: Italy, Denmark, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Malta, Georgia
Group C: Norway, Wales, Belarus, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands
Group D: Spain, Czech Republic, Poland, Moldova, Azerbaijan
Group E: Scotland, Finland, Portugal, Albania, Cyprus
Group F: Sweden, Iceland, Hungary, Slovakia, Latvia
Group G: France, Austria, Serbia, Kazakhstan, FYR Macedonia
Group H: Switzerland, Belgium, Romania, Croatia, Lithuania
Group I: Germany, Ukraine, Republic of Ireland, Greece, Montenegro