“In for a tough task”


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VfB head coach Sebastian Hoeneß will definitely be without four first-team players for the first away match of the 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign. The trip to Saxony comes too soon for Josha Vagnoman, Nikolas Nartey, Deniz Undav (all injured) and Laurin Ulrich (tonsillectomy), but new signing Leonidas Stergiou is set to be included in the squad. “Despite his young age, Leo brings experience and maturity with him,” said Hoeneß about the 21-year-old arrival from FC St. Gallen. “He also stands out due to his pace and flexibility, and he’s already played a few games for the Swiss senior team. Leo has completed two training sessions with us so far. He’s really excited to be with us and in all probability he’ll be in the squad on Friday evening. “

One player who’ll certainly be available again is Hiroki Ito, who extended his contract with VfB until 2027 on Wednesday. “Hiroki is a central figure for both me and the whole club,” said Hoeneß. “He came to us from the Japanese second division and has shown in the last two years what he’s capable of. Hiroki is an extremely talented defender who can progress further with us. I’m very pleased that he’s staying put,” added the VfB boss, who senses a good atmosphere in the camp following the opening victory against Bochum. “The mood in the team is positive and so it should be. We experienced a nice first home game with our fans. But it was only one step – there are 33 to go.”

Now it’s about taking that inner strength to Leipzig, where the Cannstatt boys face a “top team, who may have lost some substance but have also acquired some interesting players”, said Hoeneß. “Although Leipzig lost 3-2 to a strong Leverkusen side on Matchday 1, we still know we’re in for a tough task. It’s a great challenge for us to see where we’re at now. We want to compete with the best in the league. If possible we want to get a result there too.”

“In for a tough task”

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