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Estonia have secured Euro 2024 play-off place despite zero wins due to bizarre rule

Ryan Smart

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Estonia have secured Euro 2024 play-off place despite zero wins due to bizarre rule

Estonia have secured their place in the Euro 2024 play-off draw ahead of the tournament next summer - despite not winning a match during qualification.

Thomas Haberli's side, who possess Arsenal youngster Karl-Jakob Hein amongst their senior ranks, lost seven of their eight matches in qualification.

They conceded 22 goals during those eight games, scoring just twice and suffering back-to-back 5-0 defeats to Sweden and Belgium.

That goal return is lower than San Marino, who scored in three consecutive games during qualifying.

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Estonia’s record unsurprisingly places them bottom of the group and, in normal circumstances, would cause them to be eliminated from Euro 2024 qualifying.

But not this time around.

While they endured a torrid qualifying campaign, Estonia fared far better in their recent Nations League campaign.

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Haberli’s side were placed in the second group of League D - the lowest group - but performed strongly, winning all four of their games against Malta and the aforementioned San Marino.

They won 4-0 in San Marino on their fourth and final matchday, and scored a dramatic 94th-minute winner in Malta through veteran forward Henri Anier, who currently plays his club football in Hong Kong.

Nations League Group D2 (Credit: Wikipedia)
Nations League Group D2 (Credit: Wikipedia)

As a result of all that, Estonia have squeezed into the Euro 2024 play-off spots - but only due to another technicality in the rules.

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For the play-offs, 12 teams are selected from Leagues A, B and C, who are then replaced by the next highest-ranked team in their league if they’ve already qualified for the showpiece event in Germany.

But if fewer than four teams from the same league enter the play-offs, the highest-ranked team in League D are given the spot instead.

And after Czech Republic beat Moldova 3-0 on Monday, their spot was confirmed.

Estonia will now face Robert Lewandowski and Poland in the play-off round - meaning they have a significantly uphill task in order to make it to Germany next summer. It would be certainly some story if they somehow did it, though.

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: UEFA Nations League, Euro 2024, San Marino

Ryan Smart
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