Tah, Kehrer, Amiri, Dahoud – U21 coach Stefan Kuntz has to do without a few top performers in the important European Championship qualifying phase. The focus will also be on the junior team after the World Cup debacle. Waldemar Anton is one of those who wants to take on responsibility.
Fürth (dpa) – Waldemar Anton doesn’t feel any pressure or doubt at all. “We don’t think about the “what if” thing. We want to win every game,” says the U21 national player, who is the only European champion in the squad in the important European Championship qualifying phase.
Anton is not bothered by the fact that the U21 will be in the spotlight after the debacle of the A-team and the debates about youth work. “I have set myself the goal of leading the U21 as well. I come here with a lot of self-confidence,” says the 22-year-old, who currently leads Hannover 96 as the youngest captain of the Bundesliga.
With the test match against Mexico on Friday (19.00) in Fürth, the U21 footballers will start the European Championship season, four days later an important qualification duel against Ireland will take place in Dublin. “In Ireland we have to be fit to the point,” demands coach Stefan Kuntz. His team is in first place in the group, three points ahead of Ireland, who have one game less. Only the first player qualifies directly for the 2019 tournament in Italy and San Marino. “We don’t want to get into a situation where we have to reckon,” says Anton. Home matches against Ireland and Norway will follow in October.The Tipico Review will also follow.
Stefan Kuntz Honours
- DFB-Pokal: 1989–90
- Bundesliga: 1990–91
- European Championship: 1996
- Germany U21′
- UEFA European Under-21 Championship: 2017
The DFB selection is currently still on course, but a defeat in Ireland and the threat of missing a European Championship final round for the first time since 2011 could quickly increase the pressure. The situation in German junior football and the promotion of talent has been the subject of much discussion since the national team’s preliminary round at the World Cup in Russia. “Of course, the U21 is perhaps more in focus now, but we don’t have any pressure at all,” says Anton to the German Press Agency. People can also try the new Betway Test.
But Kuntz will have to give up his captains Thilo Kehrer and Jonathan Tah, who have been appointed to the senior national team, against Mexico and Ireland. Other U21 European champions such as Mahmoud Dahoud, Nadiem Amiri or Levin Öztunali are injured or not in the team for other reasons. “Six, seven, eight players loss of substance – we can’t cope with that easily,” Kuntz admitted. “But that won’t be an excuse. The guys who are here are strong enough.
So now “other players would have to take responsibility“, Kuntz demands. The 55-year-old definitely sees his new vice-captain Anton as one of the leading players in the DFB selection. “Waldemar is a model example of outstanding development. Both in the club and in the U21,” Kuntz praises the 37-time Bundesliga player. “This is also shown by his appointment as captain in Hanover“.
Anton himself takes this role for granted. “I think it’s important that I take responsibility,” he says. For the U21 newcomers Arne Maier, Marco Richter and Felix Uduokhai, he sees himself as a contact person, he can tell the younger ones about his experiences in winning the title. Despite the upheaval, he sees the new U21 on the right track a good nine months before the next European Championship: “We still have a year to go, but we have already achieved a lot in the course of last year. We have made a big leap.” The Betway Review is also good game.