U17 championship cup; photo: uefa.com

U17 qualification: Rules explained

U17 championship cup; photo: uefa.comThe U17 national team is out of the competition but coach Goran Petreski, in a statement for FFM, still hopes that the boys can go through.  Here is an explanation of why that is not possible. 

When leading a national team, a smart thing would be to know the rules.  And, rules are easily accessible through UEFA.com.  Considering the matter has obviously confused the people from the youth national team, we want to explain why Macedonia U17 squandered their opportunity and can’t advance to the elite round after finishing in third place of Group 3.

Page 6 of the regulations, point 6.06.

To determine the two best third-ranked teams from the qualifying round, only
the results of the third-placed team against the winners and runners-up in
each group are taken into account and the following criteria apply in the order
given:
a) higher number of points obtained in these matches;
b) superior goal difference from these matches;
c) higher number of goals scored in these matches;
d) fair play conduct of the teams in all group matches in the qualifying round;
e) drawing of lots. 

So, let’s look at the situation.  For third placed teams like Macedonia U17, only the results against the winners and runners-up in each group are taken into account.  In this case, Macedonia has only one point with a 1:2 goal difference (vs. Turkey 1:1 and vs. Scotland 0:1).  Bulgaria, from Group 8, also has one point but their goal difference is 2:3 (vs. Georgia 2:3 and vs. Sweden 0:0).  So, Macedonia and Bulgaria have a) the same number of points and b) the same goal difference but c) Bulgaria has scored one more goal so they have the slight edge over Macedonia U17.

The second third-ranked team that has the edge over Macedonia is Wales from Group 9 in a very interesting situation.  Wales is in third place with 3 points, so how can they be better then Macedonia when Macedonia has 4 points?  Keep in mind that only points against the winners and the runners-up of each group are taken into account and as we previously stated, Macedonia only has one point from those matches, while Wales managed to beat Lithuania 2:0 and since Lithuania finished second in the group, Wales has 3 points and is the best third-ranked team so far. 

To sum it up, Wales and Bulgaria already have the edge over Macedonia U17 so there’s no chance for Macedonia to qualify for the elite round as one of the two best third place finishers.  Also, not all of the groups are completed at this point so Bulgaria and Wales could also be replaced.  A good opportunity has been squandered and awaiting the results of Group 7 is irrelevant for the U17 national team staff.  Petreski also mentioned that Macedonia needed a win with 4 goals difference over San Marino which was not true since 3 goals would have also been enough in the case that Scotland defeated Turkey.

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