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The second edition of the UEFA Women’s Futsal EURO has begun with Belgium and Slovakia winning the first two preliminary round groups, the other being played from Monday (all postponed from the original dates in May 2020).
The preliminary round winners progress to October’s main round, joining the 13 highest-ranked entrants, which in turns leads to the four-team knockout final tournament on 24 or 25 and 26 or 27 March 2022.
Through from preliminary round so far are Belgium, and Slovakia. Debutants Gibraltar and Bosnia & Herzegovina are among 11 sides starting in the preliminary round.
Preliminary round groups
The three group winners advance to the main round join the 13 teams given byes. Group A finished with Slovakia progressing, the group also included Serbia who finished in second place, Northern Ireland in third and group hosts Lithuania finishing bottom of the group.
Northern Ireland’s senior women’s futsal team made history in their second qualifier for the UEFA European Women’s Futsal Championship 2022. The team registered their first competitive victory when they defeated the host nation 1-0 in the second of three matches they are playing in Lithuania in Group A of the preliminary round of the Women’s Futsal Euro. Although Northern Ireland were beaten 4-1 by Serbia in their opening game, team manager Keith Gibson felt the final scoreline was somewhat harsh on them. And, his prediction that they could bounce back against the Lithuanians, who lost 7-0 to Slovakia in their first encounter, was spot on as midfielder Olivia Brown scored the only goal of the game in Jonava.
Against the host nation – the game was played at the Jonava Arena– they produced several chances and were rewarded for their attacking verve. In the opening minute Beth McKay had two shots blocked and Megan Weatherall had a drive saved by Lithuanian keeper Kleveckaite.
Weatherall missed another couple of chances before it was Brown’s turn to have an effort blocked. And McKay tested Kleveckaite once again. Northern Ireland pinned Lithuania back and it took five minutes for the hosts to register an effort on goal. Skudutyte had a rasping shot blocked. Amber Dempster and Weatherall had further opportunities before Luizinaite and Dockaite had shots blocked.
Siobhan Bell’s strike was well saved and Northern Ireland had a few more efforts before Hannah Firth hit the woodwork in the 12th minute. Gibson’s team continued to create the bulk of the chances as the half wore on, although the Lithuanians also had efforts pushed away by Northern Ireland keeper and captain Alice Harkness.
Towards the end of the half the visitors pressed hard with Bell, Brown and Dempster all having good efforts. After the break Weatherall hit the woodwork before Harkness saved from Dockaite. Brown, Weatherall and McKay all had opportunities before Brown was fed by Weatherall on 22 minutes and slammed the ball home to make it 1-0. Erin Hennity and Rachel McConnell tried their luck before Dempster put a shot wide on 24 minutes.
Kleveckaite saved from Dempster, who then had a couple of shots blocked before Harkness pulled off two fine saves down the other end. At the midway point in the second half the hosts had a handful of chances, however Weatherall and Firth continued to fire in shots, followed by Brown, McKay and Bell.
Towards the end of the encounter Lithuania pushed hard in search of an equaliser and Harkness had to produce a string of fine saves, however Northern Ireland held on to secure the famous 1-0 win.
You can watch the full match between Northern Ireland and Lithuania below if you would like to see this historic match for the nation:
Group C finished with Belgium progressing, and hosts Gibraltar in second place, all groups games against Kazakhstan were cancelled. Belgium beat newcomers Gibraltar 5-4 in sudden death penalties as their game was tied 2-2 on 40 minutes and 3-3 after extra time with only two teams competing in the section.
Group B will kick off from tomorrow the 16th to the 19th of August. Kicking off the group is the Netherlands against Bosnia and Herzegovina at 2 pm followed by Armenia facing hosts Moldova. The Dutch have a strong women’s team, within it are two players who enjoyed a successful season abroad in Italy. They are defender Nancy Samantha Loth and midfielder Artemis Carijn Brueren who won the Serie A2 cup. Nancy Loth was a hero for her club, scoring three goals in the final, and lifted the cup with her teammates and team, Polisportiva Bitonto femminile C5. For Arte Brueren, it was a nice farewell to an Italian adventure. Brueren from Zwolle returned to the Netherlands. Loth doesn’t yet know what is next, but a return to Italy’s Series A seems likely.
Main round groups (19–22 October)
The four group winners will advance to the knockout finals in late March, with one of the nations appointed as hosts.
Group 1: Russia, Hungary, Belarus (hosts), winner preliminary round Group B
Group 2: Portugal, Croatia (hosts), Poland, Slovenia
Group 3: Ukraine (hosts), Finland, Czech Republic, Belgium
Group 4: Spain (holders), Italy, Sweden (hosts), Slovakia
This is the second edition of the women’s competition, and an exciting development step for the women’s game. UEFA.TV doesn’t allow their content to be embedded in other sites it seems as this was the message we got when trying to embedded last year’s women’s Futsal EURO final for those to watch who didn’t get an opportunity to see it. However, if you go to YouTube you will be able to watch highlights of the final via UEFA.TV.
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