Belgium announce squad for October International break
Belgium will face Sweden and Austria
Uncapped Mandela According to coach Domenico Tedesco, Keita was called up by Belgium on Friday to give the midfield more bite ahead of this month’s European Championship qualifying matches against Sweden and Austria.
The 24-man squad from last month’s victories over Azerbaijan and Estonia has just seen one alteration, with the 21-year-old Keita from Belgian champion Royal Antwerp replacing Hugo Siquet.
On October 13, Belgium plays Austria in a top-of-the-table match in Vienna prior to hosting Sweden three days afterwards in Brussels.
Belgium and its Dutch and French rivals in football have long-standing animosities, having faced each other almost annually from 1905 to 1967. Since 1906, the team has gone by the moniker “Red Devils,” while “1895” is the name of its fan club.
“We need some physicality in the centre for these two opponents. Therefore, we have decided on Mandela,” Tedesco told a press conference on Friday.
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In addition to the long-term absences of captain Kevin De Bruyne and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois for Belgium, Tedesco expressed his satisfaction with Romelu Lukaku’s return to action for AS Roma.
At the top of Group F, Belgium and Austria are tied on 13 points after five games, with the Swedes in last place with just six points.
Belgium’s full squad ahead of October international matches
Goalkeepers: Arnaud Bodart (Standard Liege), Koen Casteels (VfL Wolfsburg), Thomas Kaminski (Luton Town), Matz Sels (Racing Strasbourg)
Defenders: Ameen Al-Dakhil (Burnley), Timothy Castagne (Fulham), Zeni Debast (Anderlecht), Wout Faes (Leicester City), Arthur Theate (Stade Rennes), Jan Vertonghen (Anderlecht)
Midfielder: Yannick Carrasco (Al Shabab), Charles De Ketelaere (Atalanta), Olivier Deman (Werder Bremen), Mandela Keita (Royal Antwerp), Orel Mangala (Nottingham Forest), Amadou Onana (Everton), Youri Tielemans (Aston Villa)
Forwards: Johan Bakayoko (PSV Eindhoven), Mitchy Batshuayi (Fenerbahce), Jeremy Doku (Manchester City), Romelu Lukaku (AS Roma), Dodi Lukebakio (Sevillla), Lois Openda (RB Leipzig), Leonardo Trossard (Arsenal).