Germany U21s have arrived at their team hotel in Heidenheim ahead of their final European Championship qualifier against Ireland in the Voith-Arena on Tuesday night (18:15 CEST). Stefan Kuntz’ side have already qualified for next year’s tournament after defeating Norway 2-1 in Ingolstadt on Friday to secure their place in Italy and San Marino next summer. In an interview with DFB.de ahead of the final qualifier, SV Werder Bremen’s Johannes Eggestein spoke about the targets for the U21s as well as his personal development.
DFB.de: Johannes Eggestein, you didn’t feature in the U21s victory against Norway on Friday. How did you find the performance in Ingolstadt?
Johannes Eggestein: We played really well in the first half and scored two great goals. We performed exactly what the coaching team asked us to do and we were on the front foot from the first second. We conceded a very unfortunate goal early in the second half and we lost our structure afterwards. We continued to fight and fully deserved to win the match. The main aim for us was to qualify for the European Championships and we achieved this.
DFB.de: Coach Stefan Kuntz has said that all of the players who didn’t feature against Norway will all get some match time in the final qualifier against Ireland. How have you approached the match on Tuesday?
Eggestein: The most important thing is that we are fully concentrated and motivated on the match. We have already qualified but still want to win our last match, so that we can finish as the clear winners of the group. We don’t want to let our heads drop, instead finishing our qualifying campaign in style. It is a good opportunity to give the players, who didn’t feature against Norway, the chance to make a good impression. I want to use this chance as best as possible.
DFB.de: You received your first call up to the U21s squad in September 2017. You scored on this occasion but have had to wait a year for your next call up to the squad. How do view your personal development during this time?
Eggestein: I’m thrilled that I have been nominated to play for the U21s again. I view it as a privilege to be here with older players. I have been playing with the U20s in recent months and I wasn’t exactly expecting to be called back up to the U21s. I want to play confidently to show how well I have developed in recent months, especially with my club. I now want to show this to the DFB.
DFB.de: You scored your first Bundesliga goal in Werder Bremen’s last match against Wolfsburg. Is this a sign of your positive development?
Eggestein: You could say that. I am satisfied as I have featured in every matchday squad so far this season and have made a few short appearances. In the long term I would of course like to be given a bit more match time and start matches. I will continue to give everything I have in training to achieve this.
DFB.de: You have been able to learn from Claudio Pizarro in the time you have spent with him at Werder. He has taken his time to give you some advice. You could also profit from advice from some of the more experienced players in the squad…
Eggestein: (laughs) Yes I totally agree. Coach Stefan Kuntz choose to focus on set piece scenarios in training and he tends to tell us to be brave. We should try to create one-on-one situations and also to take our chances. He often intervenes during practice matches to give tips and to correct or praise certain players for a specific action. You can easily see that he was a successful striker and he gives good advice.