Netherlands U21 v Israel U21
The UEFA European Under 21 Championship gets underway in the Netherlands with the hosts taking on Israel in the opener on June 10. Netherlands coach Foppe de Haan is confident his 23-man squad can retain the European Under 21 Championship, which they won last year in Portugal.
In their final warm-up game against Poland, Tim Janssen was the lone scorer as the Jong Oranje defeated the Poles 1-0. However many big names are missing from the squad this year.
Nicky Hofs, Romeo Castelen and Klaas Jan Huntelaar are not eligible for selection this time around and the coach has had to rebuild his squad in that sense. Huntelaar was the leading scorer last time around and his services are sure to be missed this year. However the coach is still confident his team has it in them to retain the trophy on home soil.
The coach has elected to bring in Tim Krul of Newcastle to accompany Kenneth Vermeer and Boy Waterman in the goal. He has also retained six players from the squad that made Netherlands proud in Portugal last year. Kenneth Vermeer, Arnold Kruiswijk, Ron Vlaar, Ismaïl Aissati, Haris Medunjanin and Daniël de Ridder are the surviving members of that team.
AFC Ajax defender Urby Emanuelson does not find a spot in the team because he is suffering from acute fatigue. Other than that the Netherlands team looks finely balanced and on course to retain the European Under-21 Championship this year as well.
Israel on the other hand have injury worries and coach Guy Levy is waiting on the fitness of defender Lior Jan , goalkeeper Tom Al Madon and striker Amit Ben Shushan before choosing his squad for the Dutch clash. Jan has a calf strain, while Madon is down with food poisoning. Ben Shushan has a hamstring issue.
Despite these issues, Levy is confident of a good showing from Israel. "Unlike many people in Israel and abroad, I still think we're capable of reaching the semi-finals," he said. Dekel Keinan, Yuval Shpungin and Ben Sahar have all returned to the squad after their win with the senior squad in the Euro 2008 qualifiers against F.Y.R Macedonia. Levy said the squad would be boosted by their return.
Tags: European Under 21 championship, Netherlands, Israel, Euro 2008 qualifiers