Ireland have been handed a testing group for the Euro 2020 qualifiers with Mick McCarthy’s side drawn alongside Switzerland and Denmark.
Two other teams, Georgia and Gibraltar, make up Group D as Ireland embark on their quest to secure a place at the showpiece UEFA international tournament in the summer of 2020.
Switzerland are the current top ranked side in Europe, following the inaugural UEFA Nations League, securing a notable 5-2 victory over World Cup semi-finalists Belgium.
Denmark are well known to Ireland, having played each other four times within the past 13 months. Ireland were beaten int the World Cup play-off, before the two sides played out two scoreless draws in their League B Nations League group.
Ireland dodged a virtual bullet at the draw as McCarthy’s side were initially drawn in Group C alongside the Netherlands and Germany, but were moved to Group D due to the UEFA draw rules, which stated that no more than two host national sides could be placed in the same group.
Azerbaijan, another host nation, were also moved from Ireland’s group with Gibraltar then drawn into Ireland’s group.
Dublin is a host city for the month-long tournament, which has been spread throughout 12 European cities and now Ireland must attempt to finish inside the top two in their group to guarantee their place at the next edition of the Euros.
The qualifying campaign will start with two matches in March, before another two fixtures are arranged for early June, following the end of most European domestic seasons.
The fixture list will now be compiled later this afternoon, and with Ireland in a group of five, McCarthy’s side will play just eight matches before the end of 2019 to determine whether they can take one of the 20 places on offer through these qualifying stages.
A further four place will be up for grabs in March 2020, when the UEFA Nations League play-offs will take place, a back-door into the summer showpiece for those who did not make it through the qualifying stages.
Northern Ireland were drawn out of Pot 3 straight after Ireland, which meant that Michael O’Neill’s side were placed in Group C alongside Netherlands and Germany.
Estonia and Belarus are the other two teams in the North’s group.
England were drawn in Group A, alongside Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Montenegro and Kosovo.
EURO 2020 qualification draw in full:
- Czech Republic
- Northern Ireland
- Republic of Ireland
- Faroe Islands
- San Marino
- Bosnia & Herzegovina