Waterford’s Timi Sobowale has been named in the Republic of Ireland squad for the upcoming U-17 European Finals. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile.
The time for the talking is nearly over as the UEFA Euro Under 17 Championships arrives into Ireland on this Friday as 16 teams will go into battle to try lift the trophy with the final to be played at Tallaght Stadium on Sunday, May 19.
With the Republic of Ireland qualifying for the tournament as hosts, manager Colin O’Brien has confirmed his squad for the three group A games against Belgium, Greece and Czech Republic, which includes Waterford native Timi Sobowale.
Sobowale, who joined English giants Manchester City from local club Villa last year, is named as one of the 20 players that will represent the country in the tournament while Waterford’s FAI Development officer Gary Power will be part of O’Brien’s background team as kit manager.
The news that Sobowale had made the squad was confirmed yesterday (Monday) and the youngster can now look forward to playing in front of his home faithful when Ireland take on the Czech Republic in their second game at the RSC on Monday next, May 6, with a 7pm kick-off.
Ireland have already played at the Waterford venue in the build-up for the tournament after losing to Finland and that game against Czech Republic will be one of four games that will be played at the RSC during the duration of the competition.
Speaking ahead of the tournament, Timi Sobowale said, “I’m really looking forward to the tournament especially playing in Waterford in the second game so that’s something that I’ll treasure if I get the chance to play.
“Since Under-15 level, we have been told that this tournament was coming and that we would be the home nation, so they have been preparing us for this. Now that it’s almost here, we are excited and can’t wait for the opening game against Greece on Friday.
“It is an honour to be able to play in front of the home crowd, to have them supporting us and be the 12th man. At Under-15 and Under-16 level, you play a lot of away matches and you realise how tough it is to get a result, so to play in Ireland will be a lot sweeter for us.
“We are a hard team to beat and with these games on home soil it will make it even tougher for teams to beat us now. We know that the three games will be tough matches, but we’ll be prepared properly and will give it our all in the tournament.
“Every time there is an international coming up you are always looking and checking if you got the call-up. It is massive a pride and an honour to wear the shirt every time we go out to play, but this will be extra special for the finals of such a big tournament.
“Ever since I was young, I would look at the first team and the way that they play, just so much passion. I love playing for my country and to get this opportunity is fantastic. Hopefully we can do the country proud and we can play some good football.”
There will be four group games played at the RSC with the first of these games been played on Friday, May 3, with the group B tie involving Netherlands, who are tournament holders, and Sweden, at 5pm with Ireland’s group A game against Czech Republic on the following Monday at 7pm.
The group C meeting on the following night, Tuesday, May 7, between Spain and Germany at 7pm is sure to attract a big crowd to the RSC, with the final game at the RSC set to pair Russia and Hungary on Friday, May 10, with a 5pm kick-off.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND SQUAD: Gavin Bazunu (Manchester City), Conor Carthy (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Jimmy Corcoran (Preston North End), Festy Ebosele (Derby County), Matt Everitt (Brighton & Hove Albion), James Furlong (Shamrock Rovers), Anselmo Garcia McNulty (Real Betis), Joshua Giurgi (Norwich City), Harry Halwax (Derby County), Joe Hodge (Manchester City), Brandon Holt (St. Patrick’s Athletic), Sean Kennedy (Sunderland), Seamus Keogh (Southampton), Charlie McCann (Manchester United),
Sean McEvoy (Ballinamallard), Ronan McKinley (Derry City), Andrew Omobamidele (Norwich City), Timi Sobowale (Manchester City), Luke Turner (Aberdeen).