Germany U21s have a successful international break behind them, despite an uncertain start to the week following a positive Covid-19 test within the squad. Stefan’s Kuntz’s side recorded a 5-0 win over Moldova on 9th October, before a 1-0 triumph over Bosnia and Herzegovina last night. DFB.de has pulled together all the quotes from a wrap-up press conference featuring Kuntz and U21 captain, Salih Özcan.
…the positive Covid-19 test within the squad: It was the first time for us, that we had someone within the squad test positive. We were all hit with uncertainty then. What could happen? Which health authority was responsible in that case? We went through all the scenarios within our team and thought about what the right thing to do would be. Seeing the work the doctors, the team managers and the entire support staff put in made it even more incredible when all our subsequent tests came back negative. It proves that while the virus likely came from outside out team, that our hygiene concept worked and that over the course of 10 days, no one else was infected. That’s why I’m even more pleased with the win. The boys did it for the team behind the team, because they noticed how hard they were working. The DFB’s hygiene concept is top-notch and has proven that it works. It also gives us some feeling of security, and for the clubs as well.
…how the team handled the situation: What the boys managed to accomplish in the last 10 days was extremely impressive. The older players did a wonderful job of dealing with it, and set an example for the youngsters. We told the team after news broke of the positive Covid-19 test that anyone who didn’t feel comfortable travelling to Moldova should feel free to say so. About 45 minutes later, Salih Özcan came to me and said “Coach, we spoke about it as a team. We’re going to see this through together.” As a coach, hearing that was a great moment. As a result, the key word for us in our final meeting before the Bosnia and Herzegovina game was “reward.” We really wanted to win, not just for ourselves, but in order to reward the entire team for all their hard work.
…the performance against Bosnia and Herzegovina: The only thing that we have to be critical of when analysing the match is the number of mistakes that we made with our passing. The opponents weren’t allowed any chances other than those that resulted from our own misplaced passes. We have to work on that. Lennart Grill had a great day between the sticks, so luckily we weren’t punished for these mistakes.
…the short amount of time remaining ahead of the Euros: We have to take the situation as it is. Our next match will be a friendly in November, where we will see quite a few players in action so that we can evaluate how they do. After that, we hope to wrap up qualification in the match against Wales – if we manage that then we will be playing in the European Championship group stage in March. Normally you get around ten days to prepare and work together as a squad, but that’s not the case this time around, which will be very strange. The guys who are selected to play will in all likelihood be those who have had the most match practice up to that point. Hopefully they will also be players who have already appeared for the U21 side relatively often.
…victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina: We knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy task. We also knew that the Bosnia players would show huge desire and would try everything over the 90 minutes. We are over the moon that we managed to get all three points.
…the last few days: After the positive coronavirus case was confirmed, we had to wait on our own test results to learn whether any of us had the virus or not – that was a strange feeling. But we decided pretty quickly as a team that we would play the match even if we only had 16 or 17 players available. We wanted to stay together and end this international break on a high.
…upheaval among the squad: It’s not easy, obviously. We aren’t a group that has played together much; we haven’t had time to gel as a team. Everybody has their own individual quality, though, and we have also worked hard in training. The coaching staff gave us plenty of advice on what to do in the matches against Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and we tried to implement that. I think that we made the best of the situation.
…how it feels to top the qualifying group ahead of the final match against Wales: It’s a great feeling to top the table with just one match left. We are just concentrating on ourselves, though – ahead of our game, the players didn’t even know that Belgium had lost against Moldova. Obviously that made it even better when we heard about it after the game! But we want to keep our performance level high in the next match and we also want to cut out the mistakes, especially in our build-up play, so that we don’t allow our opponents to come out on top.