Young Devils “don’t want to look down” on Kazakhstan during the opener of the European Championship qualifiers, Luca Oyen overjoyed with selection after injury

On June 4, 2021, Sardella scored his first goal ever for the Young Devils against Kazakhstan. “It’s a beautiful memory. It was also the first match of the previous campaign. We won 1-3, but I remember it was a very difficult match,” says the Anderlecht defender. “It is a team that plays very defensively: very strong, very solid, many counter-attacks and stationary phases. These are matches where we have to be vigilant. We cannot take it lightly and must give 100%.”

Sardella has so far collected 7 caps for the Belgian U21 team. However, last June he was not included in the selection for the European Championships in Romania and Georgia. “It’s true that I was disappointed at that moment, because the European Championship was one of my objectives at the beginning of the season, but the circumstances were not good. I hadn’t played in the play-offs, so the previous coach had to make his choices. My season started again two to three months ago and I have turned the page.”

Sardella is currently one of the seniors in the new group. “We have had a long training week. It helped us get used to each other and get to know certain players. The atmosphere is good and everyone gets along well. We have a good group,” Sardella explains.

Sardella has already started five times at Anderlecht this season. “I am happy with that and the results have followed. Now it’s up to me to continue to show that I deserve this place. It gives me satisfaction that all the hard work and perseverance is now paying off,” the defender concluded.

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Oyen sees selection for promises as a “reward” after a serious injury

20-year-old Luca Oyen is one of the newcomers among the Belgian promises compared to the European Championship selection in June. “This is a kind of reward,” said the Racing Genk player on Sunday in Tubize, the day before the first qualifying match against Kazakhstan with a view to the European U21 Championship in 2025.

On July 24, 2022, Oyen tore his ligaments during the opening matchday on the field of Club Brugge, a month and a half after celebrating his debut with the Belgian U21 against Scotland. “I am very happy to be here, especially after the serious injury that kept me sidelined for a long time. This is a kind of reward for me and for the hard work I have put in.”

Oyen can also hope for a starting place with this new generation, which is starting a new campaign. “I am ready. I have worked hard in training to demonstrate that. The coach decides. There is a good atmosphere within this group, on and off the field.”

Gill Swerts’ boys open the qualifications against Kazakhstan. “We expect a very defensive opponent. It will be up to us to find openings,” Oyen underlined.

Oyen is also gradually coming to the surface at Genk itself. After three substitute appearances throughout all competitions, three starting places followed. “In the beginning I had a difficult period with little playing time. I was allowed to start in the last three matches and I will work hard to continue to make as many minutes as possible,” he concluded.

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