Men's national football team world cup qualifiers squad announced
The Estonian men's national football team squad has been announced ahead of the Group E qualifying matches which start next week. At stake is a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Finals in Qatar.
Team manager, Swiss national Thomas Häberli, announced the 27 players Monday, ahead of next week's qualifiers at home against the Czech Republic, and away to Belarus, as follows:
Karl Jakob Hein (Arsenal), 18
Matvei Igonen (Tallinn FC Flora), 24
Karl Andre Vallner (Tallinn FCI Levadia), 23
Taijo Teniste (Tartu JK Tammeka), 33
Karol Mets (Ettifaq FC), 27
Nikita Baranov (Karmiotissa ), 28
Artur Pikk (Diósgyőri VTK), 28
Joonas Tamm (FC Desna Chernihiv), 29
Michael Lilander (Tallinn FC Flora), 23
Märten Kuusk (Tallinn FC Flora), 24
Henri Järvelaid (Vendsyssel FF), 22
Henrik Pürg (Tallinn FC Flora), 24
Markkus Seppik (Tallinn FC Flora), 19
Midfield and attack
Konstantin Vassiljev (Tallinn FC Flora), 36
Henri Anier (Paide Linnameeskond), 30
Henrik Ojamaa (Tallinn FC Flora), 29
Sergei Mošnikov (Paide Linnameeskond), 33
Rauno Sappinen (Tallinn FC Flora), 25
Mattias Käit (NK Domžale), 22
Frank Liivak (Tallinn FCI Levadia), 24
Martin Miller (Tallinn FC Flora), 23
Vladislav Kreida (Helsingborgs IF), 21
Rauno Alliku (Tallinn FC Flora), 31
Erik Sorga (D.C. United), 21
Vlasi Sinjavski (MFK Karviná), 24
Markus Soomets (Tallinn FC Flora), 21
Markus Poom (Tallinn FC Flora), 22
Around two thirds of the squad play for domestic clubs, the remainder for overseas teams in the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Sweden and the U.S.
Regular captain and veteran defender Ragnar Klavan (Cagliari Calcio) is currently not confirmed for the qualifying campaign, though not ruled out either, football portal soccernet.ee reports (link in Estonian). Klavan, 35, played his first game in nearly three months for the Sardinian club earlier in March, following injury.
Konstantin Vassiljev is the oldest at 36, and by far both the most-capped (125 appearances) and top scorer (25 goals – the next-highest scorer is Rauno Sappinen on six goals).
Due to the pandemic, Henrik Ojamaa, Martin Miller, Märten Kuusk, Matvei Igonen and Markkus Seppik are not fully confirmed, since they are self-quarantining.
Markus Soomets is a doubtful, while noted omissions at this point in time are Marko Meerits, Ken Kallaste, Sergei Zenjov and Georgi Tunjov.
U-21 player Maksim Paskotš will also train with the national team initially.
Estonia was drawn in World Cup Qualification Group E last December, joining Belarus, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Wales.
The qualifiers (in bold) and other games' calendar for the rest of this year runs as follows (all home games played at the A. Le Coq Arena in Tallinn):
- March 24, Home v Czech Republic
- March 27, Away v Belarus
- March 31, Away v Sweden (Friendly)
- June 1, Away v Lithuania (Baltic tournament)
- June 4, Away v Finland (Friendly)
- June 10, Home v Latvia (Baltic tournament)
- September 2 Home v Belgium
- September 5, Home v Northern Ireland, (Friendly)
- September 8, Away v Wales
- October 8, Home v Belarus
- October 10, Home v Wales
- November 13, Away v Belgium
- November 16, Away v Czech Republic
Karol Mets and Erik Sorga have to return to their home clubs after next week's game in Minsk, due to coronavirus restrictions.
The games against the Czech Republic on March 24 and Belarus on March 27 will be broadcast live on ETV2 and ERR's sports portal (link in Estonian), Live from 7 p.m. Estonian time.
The Estonian men's national football team coaches are Norbert Hurt and Andres Oper, with goalkeeping legend Mart Poom coaching the keepers.
Michael Müller, also a Swiss national, is physical training coach, Ants Jaakson is video analyst.
Team doctor is Kaspar Rõivassepp, and team physios are Helvis Trääder, Priit Lehismets, Marius Unt
The 2022 World Cup Finals take place in Qatar in November and December next year. Qualifying group winners go through to the finals, while the runners-up must play-off.
Estonia have never qualified for the World Cup Finals before.
Thomas Häberli, former manager of FC Luzern in his home country, was appointed manager in January, replacing Karel Voolaid, whose contract expired last year. Häberli's contract is set to run through the qualifiers as things stand.
Editor: Andrew Whyte