Football: U21 team opens the year with an endurance test

After four games last autumn, the newly formed Polish team has just one win (3-2 vs. Turkey), one draw (1-1 vs. Latvia) and two defeats (1-2 vs. Croatia, 0 :1 vs. Greece) does not look particularly impressive on paper. But you shouldn’t let that fool you, emphasized Gregoritsch. “The Poles have a very good team,” warned the team boss to be careful.

In the games against Latvia and Greece, the Poles were decisive and should have won the game, he said. With Mateusz Musialowski (Liverpool FC/ENG), Patrick Peda (SPAL/ITA) and Aleksander Buksa (Standard Liège/BEL) there are three legionnaires in the Polish squad. The remaining players are under contract in the domestic league.

ÖFB/Patrick Vranovsky

Under-21 team boss Gregoritsch gives the go-ahead for preparations for the European Championship qualification in Turkey

Focus on own strengths

With all due respect for the opponent, the focus is anyway on one’s own strengths. “Our defensive players are physically extremely present, in midfield we have a very good mix of runners and technicians and on offense we have different weapons that we can always use to score a goal,” said Gregoritsch, who was in his circle on Wednesday Teams celebrated his 65th birthday. In addition, thanks to the many different characters, you have “really a lot of potential”, emphasized the team boss.

Vice-captain and defense chief Leo Querfeld agreed: “As a whole team, we work in a defensively disciplined manner and only conceded one goal from the game as a result. We don’t need many chances to score offensively. There are a lot of new players, so it’s up to us as a team to help them. I am convinced that they will help us with their qualities. It’s about finding the best possible team.” Against Poland, the goal is their third win after beating Montenegro 5-1 and Wales 2-0. As a result, there were two 1-1 draws against Turkey and Croatia.

The U21 squad is led by captain Matthias Braunöder. “We’re only together as a team now and then in June and we have to make the most of this time to prepare as best we can for the start of qualifying in September,” emphasized the Austria player. The results in autumn are “a nice snapshot, but we mustn’t let ourselves be blinded by the results, we have to keep working hard and get our maximum in every game,” said the 20-year-old.

Training camp with six debutants

The U21 selection has to do without Paul Koller (GAK 1902), who was injured in training. An on-site MRI revealed an ankle injury. A sixth debutant was nominated for him in Leo Mätzler (FC Mohren Dornbirn 1913). David Riegler (SKN St. Pölten), striker Justin Forst (WSG Tirol), the attacking midfielders Dijon Kameri (Red Bull Salzburg) and Tristan Osmani (Schalke 04) as well as goalkeeper Luka Maric (Sturm Graz) can also be found for the first time on the U21 list again.

Osmani, who celebrates his 18th birthday on March 30, is the youngest player in the squad. Salzburg central defender Samson Baidoo, who turns 19 a day later, is also one year below the U21s. The ailing Liefering defenders Lukas Wallner and Lukas Ibertsberger as well as Galatasaray legionnaire Yusuf Demir, who recently had to deal with injuries again and again and is still waiting for his first competitive game this year, have canceled. According to media reports, Adis Jasic (WAC) wants to play for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the future.

The friendlies serve to prepare for the European Championship qualification, which begins on September 7, 2023 in Cyprus and ends on October 15, 2024 with the away game in France. The other opponents in Group H are Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. For the finals, which will take place in Slovakia in June 2025, the nine qualifying group winners and the three best runners-up will qualify directly. The remaining six runners-up determine the remaining three European Championship starters in a play-off.


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