IRELAND’S journey to Stuttgart and nine other German cities at Euro 2024 begins with the qualifying draw on Sunday week in Frankfurt (11am).
The 53 participants have been assigned into six pots, determined by seeding generated from their final placing in the Nations League campaign that concluded on Tuesday night.
Another underwhelming campaign for Ireland has left them stuck right in the middle, ranked 26 and allocated to the third pot. Seven of the 10 groups for will feature five nations, with three having six.
The four top nations who’ve qualified for the League A finals extravaganza – Italy, Netherlands, Croatia and Spain – are guaranteed to be leading five-nations groups, thereby freeing up two matchdays for their quadrangular tournament next June.
Only the two top finishers qualify for the finals directly and Ireland’s path could be arduous, should either England or France be drawn as their second seeds.
Both nations lost their Pot One status following disappointing Nations League performances. Conversely, getting grouped with Hungary or Switzerland as their first-seeded opposition would be navigationally favourable.
Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Croatia, Poland, Switzerland.
France, Austria, Czech Republic, England, Wales, Israel, Bosnia, Serbia, Scotland, Finland.
Ukraine, Iceland, Norway, Slovenia, Republic of Ireland, Albania, Montenegro, Romania, Sweden, Armenia.
Georgia, Greece, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Faroe Islands, North Macedonia.
Slovakia, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Belarus, Lithuania, Gibraltar, Estonia, Latvia, Moldova, Malta,
Andorra, Liechtenstein, San Marino.
Should Ireland fail to qualify via the conventional route, entry into the playoff system in March 2023, again dictated by NL finishes, is possible. That looks likely once the campaign goes to form with the top two seeds holding their positions by November 2023.