Hibs’ Stephane Omeonga called up to Belgium Under-21 squad

Stephane Omeonga has been called up to the Belgium Under-21 squad. Picture: SNS Group
Stephane Omeonga has been called up to the Belgium Under-21 squad. Picture: SNS Group
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Hibs midfielder Stephane Omeonga has been named in the Belgium Under-21 squad for next week’s friendly with Denmark.

The match is part of the Red Devils’ preparations ahead of the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Italy in June, and the on-loan Genoa man could win his sixth cap if he features against the Danes.

Omeonga, who has made 12 appearances for the Easter Road side since signing on loan in January, will be aiming to cement his place in Johan Walem’s squad ahead of Euro 2019.

He featured against Cyprus and Hungary in the Euro 2019 qualifiers, and played against the Netherlands, Italy and Romania in friendly matches, registering an assist against the Romanians in a 3-3 draw.

Omeonga told the Evening News in January that one of the factors behind his decision to join Hibs was securing a place in the European Championship squad.

He said: “At the moment I just think about the Euros in the summer. I want to be in that team. I cannot take the risk to not play and not make that tournament. It’s a big thing in my career, to play in something like that.

“I have faith I can make Belgium’s senior squad. I don’t see why I can’t. I’m in the under-21s, so I’ve shown that I have the quality to be there. If you don’t have ambition, don’t play football.”

Belgium senior squad boss Roberto Martinez, speaking earlier on Friday, said: “There are five or more Under-21 [players] who catch the eye. But we want to give our young players the best opportunities to develop.”

“The UEFA Under-21 European Championship will be a unique chance for our Under-21s to experience international football and show their talent in a specific competitive manner.”

Omeonga joins goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, striker Marc McNulty and midfield colleague Vykintas Slivka in earning international call-ups ahead of next week.

Daryl Horgan was part of Mick McCarthy’s provisional Republic of Ireland squad but did not make the cut when it was slimmed down ahead of the matches against Gibraltar and Georgia.