Seven VfL players are on the road with their national teams in the upcoming FIFA international break. Both Gerrit Holtmann and Patrick Osterhage can celebrate debuts: Holtmann could make his first appearance for the Philippine national team, Patrick Osterhage would be the next German U21 international after Maxim Leitsch and Armel Bella Kotchap. In addition, junior professional Tjark Ernst will first take part in a DFB U19 training course before traveling to Finland for the UEFA Elite Round.
Takuma Asano and the Japanese national team are entering the home stretch of their World Cup qualifying campaign. On March 24, the Samurai Blue will play a potentially decisive match against Australia, kicking off in Sydney at 10:10 a.m. Central European Time. On March 29, they will play Vietnam at home in Saitama, kicking off at 12:35 p.m. (CET). Japan is currently second in qualifying Group B, with Australia third. The top two teams qualify directly for the finals in Qatar, while the third-place teams in Groups A and B will play a fourth-round match to determine their opponents for the international playoffs against the fifth-place team from the South American qualifiers.
Christopher Antwi-Adjei’s last and so far only international match was over two years ago. Now the Ghana Football Association has invited him again. The “Black Stars” will meet Nigeria in the decisive play-offs of the World Cup qualifiers. The first leg will take place on March 25 in Kumasi, the second leg on March 29 in the Nigerian capital Abuja. The winner will qualify for the World Cup.
Cristian Gamboa is also expected to play for Costa Rica in the World Cup qualifier. However, due to his Covid19 infection and the associated domestic quarantine, it is not yet clear if and when he will travel to the national team if necessary. The “Ticos” play in CONCACAF qualifying at home against Canada (March 24) and the USA (March 30) and must travel to El Salvador in between (March 27).
The Philippines are already out of World Cup qualifying. Nevertheless, the upcoming friendlies at the three-nation tournament in Singapore will be special for Gerrit Holtmann, after all the VfL attacker is making his debut for his mother’s home country. The Philippines will face Malaysia on March 23 and hosts Singapore on March 29.
Konstantinos Stafylidis has also been invited to play in friendly matches. The Greek national team will face Romania in Bucharest on March 25, after which it will travel on to Montenegro. On March 28, the Hellenic selection will compete there in Podgorica.
Premiere for Patrick Osterhage: The VfL newcomer earned his first nomination for Germany’s U21s with strong performances. In addition to him, U21 head coach Antonio di Salvo also nominated Armel Bella Kotchap from the Bochum ranks for the EURO qualifiers against Latvia (March 25 in Aachen, kickoff at 6:15 p.m.) and Israel (March 29 in Petach Tikva, kickoff at 6 p.m.).
Tjark Ernst is part of the Germany U19 squad that will play three international matches between March 19 and 30 during the so-called UEFA Eliter Round in Finland. The opponents are Italy on March 23, Belgium on March 26, and host Finland on March 29 to conclude the mini-tournament. All matches will be played in Helsinki. The group winner will travel to the U19 European Championship, which will be held in Slovakia from June 18 to July 1. Until March 19, a number of players, including Verthomy Boboy from the VfL-Talentwerk U19 squad, still have a chance to earn one of the free squad spots for the European Championship qualifiers. Tjark Ernst will also take part in the course as a goalkeeper, but has already been nominated.