Stefan Kuntz has included three new players in his Germany Under-21 squad to take on Norway and Ireland. Maximilian Mittelstädt (Hertha BSC), Robin Koch (SC Freiburg) and Abdelhamid Sabiri (Huddersfield Town) have all been called up for the first time.
Mittelstädt was called up in September for the games against Mexico and Ireland, but had to pull out of the squad through injury. “That was a shame, it was annoying, but it’s all good now that it’s worked out and I can prove myself. I’ve been made to feel welcome and I want to do my bit for our European Championship qualification,” said the 21-year-old.
The defender has played 29 Bundesliga games for Hertha since his debut in March 2016, playing games at left back and also further forward, on the left side of midfield. He’s made three appearances so far this season, and played well in Hertha’s home win against Bayern. He’s played 25 games for his country across the U18, U19 and U20 levels.
SC Freiburg’s Robin Koch hasn’t been called up for Germany at any level before. “It just hasn’t happened before. I only started playing professionally for 1. FC Kaiserslautern in 2016 and I’ve been playing Bundesliga football for a year with Freiburg. It’s great that my performances are being rewarded,” said the 22-year-old.
Robin is the son of former Bundesliga player Harry Koch, who played with U21 head coach Stefan Kuntz at 1. FC Kaiserslautern. “Of course it’s a great story, the coach told the whole team, but I have to prove myself like every player here,” said the potential debutant. Koch can play at both centre back and in defensive midfield, and has scored two goals in 34 Bundesliga appearances for Freiburg.
Sabiri’s call up came as a shock for many, but the Huddersfield Town striker wasn’t surprised. “I’ve been in contact with Stefan Kuntz for a long time, he’s called me several times. He’s also been to a few of my games in the last few months to get to know me,” he said. Sabiri moved to Huddersfield Town from 1. FC Nürnberg in 2017 and is now managed by German coach David Wagner. So far, he’s made six Premier League, four FA Cup, and two EFL Cup appearances. The striker is also eligible to play for Morocco.
“I haven’t been playing much with my club. Now I want to prove myself with the Under-21s and get as many minutes under my belt as possible, so I can train at a high level with the best German players in this age group,” said Sabiri. The forward scored five goals and got nine assists for Nürnberg in the second division in 2016/17.###more###