Coach Johan Walem made Tuesday his selection of 26 players are known for the european CHAMPIONSHIP U21 from next month in Italy and San Marino (16-30 June). “I am satisfied that the preparation is finally almost can begin”, and had a impatient Walem scoring.
On may 31, starting at Tubize the group training of the Young Devils, but between 25 and 29 may, there will be all the players individually to come into the centre of the Red Devils. On June 3, following a first test for Walem and co with a practice in Le Mans against France. Three days later, on 6 June, the coach will have final core of 23 players are known. That will be a day later on the plane to Catania, where a stage of a week, something is. During the week, which will also have one practice duel to be played, albeit behind closed doors.
The Belgian promises were made at the european CHAMPIONSHIPS have been drawn in group A, a very tough pool with Poland, Spain and host Italy. The Belgians begin on 16 June with a duel with Poland. On the 19th of June to take them to Spain, and on 22 June there is the final team contest against Italy.
Only the group winners of each of the three leagues of the place for the semi-finals, along with the best number two. They also deserve all four a ticket for the Olympic Games of 2020 in Tokyo. If England places for the semi-finals, there will still be play-offwedstrijd follow between the two other numbers two. The winner of that contest will win the last olympic ticket.
“Qualification for the Olympics is very difficult, but it is a challenge”
The coach showed himself to be ambitious, but also very realistic. “A lot will depend on the first groepsduel against Poland. When you win, everything can, at a loss, which is difficult”, explained Walem. “The match against Poland (June 16) is the main game and perhaps the most difficult. I have seen them play and it is certainly no easy opponent. The fact that we start against Poland is also important. When you win, everything can, at a loss, which is very difficult in our group. The priority is Poland. Afterwards, we look at the matches against Spain (June 19) and Italy (22 June).”
The purpose of the Young Devils is the group stage survive, but Walem wild not too far ahead. “In such a tough group as those of us you have to be realistic. I would be very happy with this group to the Play. That would be an exceptional adventure. But if you can see who is there but must go on (only the top four outside of England reckoned, ed.), then is very difficult. But it is certainly a challenge. It gives the group an extra boost.”
The promises practiced at the end of march in Denmark (3-2) and on 3 June against France. “Major competitions”, said Walem. “But these opponents are not to compare with Poland, Spain or Italy. That is also the goal. Against Denmark, we wanted to see who of the players the level design. Some players have in that race, learned a lot, and myself also. I knew that Denmark is very strong and the group wanted to test. I’ve always said, but you will be fading in Italy. The level of all the qualified countries is very high. That is still something completely different than the qualifications.”
“The match against France is even more of a real test. France is for me one of the favourites at the european CHAMPIONSHIP together with Spain, Germany and England. Italy I put something up. That match against France is very important, because I subsequently (on 6 June, ed.) my final selection. Almost everyone will be in Le Mans speelminuten. Afterwards, we will be in Italy even a practice game to play, but behind closed doors. That is a tactical exercise for the first match against Poland.”
The top favourite for the european CHAMPIONSHIPS is for Walem the host country. “Italy will all convert to the euro in their own country to win”, was the national coach clearly. “They start playing with the toppers as Nicolo Zaniolo (AS Roma) and Moise Kean (Juventus). I expected maybe five players from the first team at their core. I know their coach, Luigi Di Biagio, very good. I know how he thinks. You can them compare with Belgium. With us, it was impossible to Youri Tielemans in the selection. That was clear from the start. And I understand that also. Youri has experienced an enormous development, he has so much already.”
“It’s a pity that Yari Verschaeren first part of preparation mist”
Johan Walem took in his pre-selection for the first Yari Verschaeren. The revelation of Anderlecht miss the first part of the preparation of the exams. “That is very unfortunate, but studies are important and so we have an effort”, let Walem again. “Is it a problem that Yari the first training in Belgium is missing? Yes and no. We hope him on the penultimate or the last training in Belgium to welcome. Furthermore, we will him on the stage in Catania (7-14 June) further, in the group integrate.”
This made Walem implicitly clear that he does not want the Anderlecht-youngster out its final core. “He’ll be late and will miss alot, also the practice in and against France (3 June)”, he continued Walem. “But we have an effort. Studies are important. In Catania, there is still time to Yari to know. He has greatly shown over the last few months at Anderlecht. I want to make him very happy. That is not to say that he immediately undisputed basisspeler. It is the first time that he is with my selection. The EK is already a unique experience for him.”
“I can’t do anything more to have it now”
“I hope that in the preparation no more an attack, because I already have worries enough.” This quote from Johan Walem illustrates the hitherto bumpy run-up to some of the Young Devils on the way to the european CHAMPIONSHIP U21 next month in Italy and San Marino (16-30 June). Walem must on the EK pillars Zinho Vanheusden and Landry Dimata miss and also fixed the right rear Dion Cools is highly uncertain with a double kaakbeenbreuk. The good news is that Obbi Oularé in Standard over the past weeks his fellow made.
“I am indeed very happy that Obbi is so strong to be able to return”, put Walem from the shore. “He is in the first instance, my replacement for the injured Landry Dimata. I have two deep strikers, with next Oularé also Aaron Leya Iseka. But there is much more competition on the number nine. Also Dodi Lukebakio, Isaac Mbenza and even Siebe Writers can position. A lot also depends on the opponent.”
Oularé know the cast of actors of the promises by and by, but was in recent years often absent with injuries. “That’s right,” said Walem. “Obbi was there often, but was still more frequent in the barn. It was the last few years difficult for him, he was really a very long time out. Since his comeback (at home against AA Gent on may 10, eds.) he has a lot to show. I hope his form can continue.”
“That he is a different profile than Dimata, bothers me not. Both players have their qualities. That is positive and negative. It is a pity, that we Landry miss, but Obbi is even more unknown to our opponents. This can be an advantage.”
In addition to the blessurezorgen front facing Walem also with uncertainty on rechsachter. Its hard man, right rear, during the qualifications, Dion Cools, it ran two weeks ago in training at Club Brugge double kaakbeenbreuk. “He will certainly not be ready to get to France”, he continued Walem. “That match had him just virtue done. It is difficult for him. And I think that is very unfortunate. Actually he is my third basisspeler (after Vanheusden and Dimata, ed.), that may be the EK fog. It would be brilliant if he was in Catania in the group can connect. We are going to be injury on the foot to follow. Only at the last moment, we will be able to decide whether he can go to Italy.”
Cools played this season barely at Club Brugge, but Walem and let him never fall. “Dion has very little played this season. His situation at Club Brugge is difficult. He does everything for his sport and really want to work in Italy. But it is difficult”, repeated Walem.
“If he would not pick up, I have several possible replacements. Jur Schryvers of Waasland-Beveren’s already been two years in my group and also performs very very well. And there are other defenders on the right can play. Alexis Saelemaekers? No, see him I don’t really like the rear on the right. He can do it well, without problem. But I see Alexis is currently rather as a player that’s a little more play. If right, he should be defending more of his caps look. I have said many times before.”
The answer is a little surprising, but Walem couldn’t do anything else than to admit that his selection without Vanheusden, Dimata and possible Cools is weakened. “Yes, it is clear that our opportunities in Italy have dropped. Zinho and Landry were real pillars. But I have a very strong group. I expected the group that they will react, have to work harder and be their best level. That is our strength, our collectivity. Some of the players have something more qualities than others, but I think the replacements for Landry and Zinho their opportunities will grab it. This group is during the qualifications more grown up. In the previous group at the U21 (Musonda and Bakkali, red.) it was also a lot of talent, but it was difficult to follow the rules. This group does that perfectly.”
“Team of Beijing was much stronger”
Johan Walem ended his preview with an attempted comparison with the team in 2007 for the last time qualified for a european CHAMPIONSHIP for promises. That team reached the semi-finals, qualified for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and also made the semi-finals. “Actually, there is no comparison possible with our team”, was Walem clear. “And that’s just logical.”
“That team had much more talent”, explained the current coach of the promises. “It is the basis for the current core of the Red Devils. That is also the reason why we, as a country at the world CHAMPIONSHIPS last year, could compete for the victory. It is almost impossible as once a generation. But of my group to get boys to advance to the Red Devils. Not all, but some players, at least 2 to 3, be arranged already been linked with the Red Devils. That they deserve, and that level they can also. And there may be some boys to get very far, but you have to be realistic. Not everyone is ever Red Devil.”
Pre-Selection Of Young Devils:
Goalies: Nordin Jackers (Racing Genk), Ortwin De Wolf (Lokeren), Jens Teunckens (Antwerp)
Defenders: Dion Cools (Club Brugge), Wout Faes (Ostend), Sebastiaan Bornauw (Anderlecht), Casper De Norre (Racing Genk), Elias Cobbaut (Anderlecht), Dries Wouters (Racing Genk), Rocky Bushiri (Eupen), Alexis Saelemaekers (Anderlecht), Jur Schryvers (Waasland-Beveren)
Midfielders: Bryan Heynen (Racing Genk), Jordi Brown (Ostend), Samuel Bastien (Standard), Alexis De Sart (STVV), Orel Mangala (Hamburg/Ger), Stephane Omeonga (Hibernian/Sch), Siebe Schrijvers (Club Brugge), Yari Verschaeren (Anderlecht)
Attackers: Obbi Oularé (Standard), Aaron Leya Iseka (Toulouse/Fra), Dodi Lukebakio (Fortuna Dusseldorf/Ger), Isaac Mbenza (Huddersfield Town/Eng), Francis Amuzu (Anderlecht), Manuel Benson (Mouscron)