Czech hosts ready for men’s EuroHockey Indoor U21 Championships in Nymburk

Posted On 18/01/2023

The men’s EuroHockey Indoor Under-21 Championship gets underway in Nymburk on Thursday morning with 10 teams battling it out for the continental title.

The competition will be initially divided into two group of five with the top two advancing to the semi-finals while each side will be looking to avoid the bottom run in their group which will lead to relegation. You can find out more about each team below.

** Every game from the competition will be live streamed for free via www.eurohockeytv.org with commentary from Nick Irvine.

Pool A
Austria

Austria will aim to emulate their female counterparts and senior men who have already tasted European glory on the board this winter. Key players are Benjamin Kölbl and Fülöp Losonci who are both playing in the German Bundelsiga for Hamburger Polo Club and Harvestehuder THC respectively. They already have some experience in the senior squad as Benjamin won the senior Euros in Hamburg in December. Both are bringing a lot of quality.

They are well prepared following a tournament in Vienna in November and they have been able to get together once a week to train as a squad before convening for the Rohrmax Cup earlier this month.

“We are looking forward to show our talent and want to improve from game to game,” says coach Tomasz Schmidt. “We have a lot of history playing Under-21 indoor championships and we are very succesful and looking forward to make that mark in the Czech republic again.

“Some of our players where part of the last Euro tournament where we won the title in a thrilling final against Poland in a shoot out. It gave us a lot of goosepumps when our keeper saved the last penalty stroke in front of a lot Austrian fans, who where celebrating on the pitch after with all the players and staff.”

Italy
Italy are hoping to go one better than their excellent fourth place finish in 2019, the last time the competition was played. They draw heavily from HC Bondeno who won the last four editions of the Italian national Under-21 league – from 2017 to 2022. Alessandro and Simone Calzolari, Isaac Merighi and Marcello Succi all hail from the club.

Succi also played in the Eurohockey Indoor Championship III in December in Cyprus where Italy won the competition. Even if they are still young, most of these players (Succi, Felix Dionisi, Leonardo D’Amico, Simone Zoppi, Dario Saoncella, Andrea Petito, Jacopo Allegri, Giacomo Alifredi in particular) are important players for their clubs in Italy in both indoor and outdoor competition.

Switzerland
Winners last time this event was played in the Czech Republic in 2011, Switzerland will play with a very young but talented team. This team does not have any senior level experience but believe they can cause surprises during the competition. Loris Grandchamp (Stuttgart Kickers) is a talent of whom they have high expectations whale there are some strong family connections for Lars Stomps whose brother Boris and sister Sofie both play internationally too. Assistant coach Fabio Landtwing’s sister Tanja was goalkeeper of the tournament at the women’s Under-21 tournament in Lucerne.

The Swiss have had a short but intense preparation with only three weekends of training and matches to take them to a competitive level in Prague. At the Rohrmax Cup in Vienna, they performed well against Czech U21 (3-2 loss), but lost against the more senior teams like SV Arminen (8-1) and the USA (4-2).

Coach Jaïr Levie says of the chances: “This team may be inexperienced, but I see that as a huge benefit while their hunger to learn from every moment is huge. Each session, training or match, the players are becoming better and better and therefore I am sure that we will grow in the tournament and finally reach a level which we all are astonished by!”

Switzerland’s men

Türkiye
Türkiye’s men will look to emulate their female counterparts and reach the Under-21 indoor podium for the first time having finished in fifth place in 2019 and seventh in 2015.

They meet Ukraine for a third time in Under-21 competition having won 5-1 in 2015 and drawn 1-1 in 2017. In terms of European experience, just goalkeeper Mehmet Ceyhan has played in an Under-21 European competition before, coming on twice in the 2019 event in Vienna. He has since been capped by the senior outdoor team at the European Championship qualifiers in Calais last August.

Türkiye’s Under-21 men

Ukraine
Ukraine will play in the top tier of men’s Under-21 competition for the third time having previously played in 2013 in Vienna (seventh) and 2015 in Torun (eighth). They earned their promotion to the top division with a second place finish in 2021 in Paredes, finishing behind Belarus.

In the group stages, they begin by meeting Türkiye for a third time at this level, previous losing 5-1 in 2015 and then drawing in the second tier competition in 2017.

Their most experienced player is Yurii Dzemukh who played in both the 2019 and 2021 European campaigns. He scored 10 times in the latter competition in Paredes. The side is captained by goalkeeper Bohdan Yurkov while Oleksander Boiko is in his second Under-21 competition despite being still just 17. Denys Kharmenko is also in for his second Euro campaign.

Pool B
Croatia

Croatia contest their fifth European Under-21 competition with their best finish coming in 2017 in Lisbon when they finished in fourth place. They since struggled in Vienna (eighth) in 2019 and then were fifth in the second division in 2021 in Paredes and so will be looking to make a big step up this week.

Captain Fran Zlatar is their key man in front of goal with seven goals in the 2021 season while Luka Mesarić – then 16 – was on the mark four times. Zlatar, along with Lijan Wehr, is entering his third European edition and they have the experience to bear from the top tier.

Their first fixture is a repeat of a 2021 meeting against Denmark, one in which the Danes prevailed 7-5.

Czech Republic (pictured in main image)
Hosts the Czech Republic will be looking to end a 21-year wait and claim the Under-21 men’s European title for the first time since Oporto in 2002.

“The preparation was relatively long-term. We tried to prepare in a larger group – at the beginning of the preparation there were joint training sessions with the senior national team. After that, we already completed the training with the team, whose skeleton is made up of players from the years 2002, 2003, 2004.

“We are looking forward to the European Championship in front of our home backdrop,” said coach Miroslav Ludik. “Who wouldn’t want to be successful in front of Czech viewers… Of course, we wish that too. For the offensive side of the game, there is a lot of potential in the team.

“Everything will depend on how we, and now I mean specifically the whole team, will do especially defensively. Goalkeepers were and always are an integral part of successful performances in the hall. That’s why I believe that the tournament will be successful for us.

Among their number, they have a couple of foreign based players with Josef Toms now with Baudouin in Belgium while Štěpán Klaban is in the Netherlands with Klein Zwitserland.

Six of the side came up through the ranks at SK Slavia Praha with three hailing from HC 1972 Rakovnik, two from Bohemians and one from TJ Mnichovice.

Denmark
The Danish side for this 2023 European Championship is a quite young squad with only three players from last time in Portugal and with more than half of them new to Under-21 level, but many of them have good experience from Under-16 Hockey5s.

Magnus Thorsted, Anders Jacobsen, Ulrik Nielsen and Tobias Laursen all played at Under-21 level before and Magnus Thorsted and Rasmus Westrup made their senior debut as part of the men’s senior team, playing in Cyprus in December where they earned from promotion from the EuroHockey Indoor Championship III.

Among the new guys selected by the team coaches Jonas Graversen and Lasse Steinmetz are the two talented youngsters Oliver Sørensen and Frederik Moll – both only 16 years old.

Denmark’s Under-21 men

The team has prepared well during the winter with several training sessions leading to the final selection.

On the first weekend of January, the team participated in the senior tournament, the Mason Cup in Denmark playing teams from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and GB. The boys made it to the semi final and lost the bronze match, but gained five good matches of preparation.

“A young team ready to gain experience and to do their utmost to stay at the best level.”

Poland
Poland are looking to continue a run which has seen them finish on the podium in the last six editions of the men’s EuroHockey Indoor Under-21 Championship, winning the gold in 2009 and 2017.

The side is coached by Jacek Adrian who has previously been over this age group at the 2021 Junior World Cup and Poland’s senior side in 2020 in Berlin.

The enjoyed three wins and a draw against an Irish development squad in Gasawa as part of their preparations. The majority of the panel hail from Poznan with four from AZS AWF Ponan and two each from WKS Grunwald Poznan, two from Warta Poznan, and two from AZS Politechnika Poznanska. Patryk Wojtasik is from LKS Gasawa and Dominik Turij from HKS Siemianowiczanka, just outside Katowice.

Poland’s Under-21 men

Slovakia
Slovakia will be participating in the Eurohockey Indoor Championship A division for a second time after Gothenburg in 2000. They bring an extremely young side but are hoping to enjoy an amazing experience.
Five of their panel play their hockey in the Austria league for either AHTC or SV Arminen while their key men are the likes of Richard Garaj, Peter Prevercik, Jozef Horacek and Adam Strofek who have all played adult games in Austria for a long time.

The remainder of the panel hails from their domestic clubs like KPH RAČA and ŠK Šenkvice.

Coach Matej Boho said: “I think that the guys are prepared for this tournament. For us, this tournament is absolutlely amazing. The guys are looking forward to it very much.

“We have done a lot of work with guys and I believe that we will be successful. Our aim is to stay in the A division because the same players will be playing next tournament. I hope that it will be A division. We have young guys with an average age of 17 years old but they have very high potential for the future.

“We will have very hard matches during the tournament but there will be very important experiences for their further hockey career. We have to do everything to stay in the A division.”

Slovakia’s Under-21 men

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