COLERAINE FC is pleased to announce that the club will create history next month…
The Bannsiders will become the first team from Northern Ireland to compete in the UEFA Youth League after winning the NIFL U18 title last season.
The UEFA Youth League domestic champions path draw in Nyon at 13:00 CET on Wednesday 31 August will set two rounds of knockout competition for 32 of the 64 contenders.
The 32 clubs that compete in the UEFA Champions League path are those that take part in this season’s group stage of the senior competition, with the same fixture list. They are joined in the competition by the 32 domestic youth champions from the highest-ranked entering associations whose senior side have not qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage – these teams take part in the domestic champions path.
Where the senior side of a domestic youth champion has qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage, the vacant place is filled by the domestic youth champion of the next-ranked entering association.
The domestic champions path teams compete in two rounds of two-legged knockout ties. The eventual eight second-round winners progress to the play-offs where they face the runners-up in the eight UEFA Champions League path groups. The winners of those ties progress to the round of 16 alongside the UEFA Champions League path group winners.
AZ Alkmaar (NED)
Rukh Lviv (UKR)
Crvena zvezda (SRB)
Slavia Praha (CZE)
Hajduk Split (CRO)
Young Boys (SUI)
Slavia Sofia (BUL)
Csikszereda Miercurea Ciuc (ROU)
Zagłębie Lubin (POL)
Racing Union (LUX)
Borac Banja Luka (BIH)
Shamrock Rovers (IRL)
How the draw works
There is an open draw with no seeding.
The UEFA administration may form groups and may include geographical conditions that prevent teams from having to travel long distances.
A pot is prepared for Group 1 (assuming groups have been formed) with the requisite number of balls, each containing the name of one domestic champions path team.
Two balls are drawn from the bowl. Those teams will play each other, with the first team drawn playing the first match at home and the return match away.
The previous step is carried out with the remaining balls in the bowl to complete all the pairings.
The steps are then carried out for the other groups.
The 16 first-round pairings may split be split into in groups and may include geographical conditions that prevent teams from having to travel long distances. There is no other seeding.
The first-round pairings for Group A (assuming groups have been formed) are placed in a central bowl and shuffled.
Two balls are drawn from the bowl. These pairings will play each other, with the first pairing drawn playing the first match at home and the return away.
The same steps are carried out with the remaining balls in the bowl, and the same procedure followed for any remaining groups.
Domestic champions path
Round 1 first leg: 14 September
Round 1 second leg: 5 October
Round 2 first leg: 26 October
Round 2 second leg: 2 November
Last year’s under 18’s manager, Marty Smith, is looking forward to leading his side against other top European counterparts.
“It is a fantastic opportunity to take part in a European competition and compete against some top sides,” he added.
“It’s a great incentive for most importantly the players but also the staff and the club.
“The club have had some great times in Europe in recent years and we are delighted to be given the opportunity to sample it for ourselves.
“Our lads put in an incredible amount of effort into last season and this is an unbelievable reward for that hard work.
“A lot of sacrifices were made last season as we trained early mornings at times and we stuck at it over the Christmas period. It’s shown to be worthwhile now.”
A statement from the club’s Senior Academy Director added: “To qualify to compete in the European Youth League for Coleraine FC just shows how all facets of the club is moving in the right directions.
“From facility off field development plans, our first team success and now our senior Youths teams showing how they are dominant in their own field.
“As we create a piece of history for Coleraine FC it is important to acknowledge that making this is years of hard work on and off the pitch. Tremendous credit must be given to all the staff, coaches, players and parents who all play major roles in making this possible.
“It is very exciting times at Coleraine from players moving across the water, breaking into our first team, gaining both county and international honours and now history makers as first club in NI to qualify for European Youth League football.
“The club will take a delegation of 20+ players to whoever our opponents may be and this in itself shows how we have taken the Youths side of the club to a new level, improving our coaches, players and style at every opportunity has shown dividends and one I am personally proud off.
“From the bottom of section B league football to European Youth League football is a massive indicator of our success and as a group of coaches we all contribute massively towards.”
Coleraine Chairman, Colin McKendry, believes the opportunity is a fine reward for such a successful season last year.
“This is great news for our Youths section,” he said.
“It is an honour for Coleraine to be the first team from Northern Ireland to compete in such a prestigious competition and it is testament to all the hard work going on at youth level.
“The U18’s were superb last season and it was culminated in winning the NIFL title at that age group.
“We wish them the best of luck in the competition and to enjoy the experience.”