Jessic Ngankam in the U-21 national team: Hansi Flick also impressed
Dhe circumstances under which coach Antonio Di Salvo is preparing his U-21 national team for the European Championships in the summer are far from ideal. Five of the soccer players who are supposed to be part of the squad for the tournament are currently getting their first experience in the senior national team, others are injured. In total, Di Salvo was missing eleven players in the 2-2 draw against Japan’s youngsters, who are firmly scheduled for the European Championship.
And yet the 6,000 spectators in the Frankfurt stadium on Bornheimer Hang got to see a very entertaining football game during which one of them did a lot of self-promotion: the debutant Jessic Ngankam. A foul on the attacker by Hertha BSC led to a penalty for Germany, which Ngankam converted himself to make it 1-0.
“He saved the balls,” said Di Salvo afterwards about the player with the most presence in the game, “he threw himself into every tackle, scored the goal and had two more chances in the second half, where you could see that he was in the able to hold your ground in the penalty area with your back to goal.”
Kudos from the coach
It was great praise, and perhaps one reason why it was so raving was that Ngankam is a guy who fits pretty much perfectly with the image of the future senior international that those in charge at the German Football Association in mind. Not only because of his footballing qualities.
A native of Berlin, Ngankam was trained by Hertha BSC in his youth, but during that time he was not honed into one of those somewhat monotonous footballers who function perfectly tactically and technically, but who lose energy as soon as they meet resistance. “I just went onto the pitch and did what I always do: gamble like on the football field,” said Ngankam on Friday evening.
The game against the Japanese took place on a deplorable pitch. The ball bounced and bounced, Bundesliga soccer players are rarely confronted with such conditions anymore, and some people lose interest under such circumstances. But Ngankam fought and toiled, coping much better with adversity as, for example, Eintracht Frankfurt’s Faride Alidou. This form of humble determination should not least be due to the DFB sports director, who likes to revel in the old days Rudi Voeller be promoted.
Impact, power, straightness
And Ngankam is also someone who demands responsibility: When Hertha BSC were awarded a penalty against Mainz 05 two weeks ago, the 22-year-old professional took the ball, although the experienced Florian Niederlechner would have been ready – and scored the 1: 0 The young striker has what his team needs in the fight against relegation: “This force, this power, this straightforwardness,” enthused the coach Sandro Black then about the player who played a total of 500 minutes in ten games this season for Hertha and scored two goals. That’s a significant rate.
In the senior national team, the growing importance of Niklas Füllkrug embodies the rediscovered appreciation for a less delicate, but dedicated and goal-oriented style of play. “He played well,” said the national coach Hansi Flick, who watched the youth team’s game together with Völler, about Ngankam. “We’re glad we have players like him. We’re looking for them.”
Perhaps this striker Flick would have been noticed earlier, but former Hertha coach Pal Dardai promoted other talents more, and Ngankam has been held back repeatedly over the past three years by injuries, including a cruciate ligament rupture that put him out of action for almost ten months.
Now he was allowed to debut in the U21s, which was made easier by the fact that other candidates for the top position were absent because they had been invited to the senior team. Mergim Berisha and Kevin Schade were able to play their first senior internationals in the 2-0 win over Peru on Saturday. Both will probably be at the European Championships in Georgia and Romania. But Ngankam also has a good chance. In the test match in Romania on Tuesday evening (6 p.m. on ProSiebenMaxx) he can show that he can also cope well with the conditions on the Black Sea.