Marcus Forss marked his senior Finland debut with a goal against World Champions France in Paris. The 21-year-old striker raced clear to net the opener in the 2-0 victory at the Stade de France on his maiden international outing. Two further caps would follow in Nations League games against Bulgaria and Wales; a 3-1 defeat in the latter seeing Finland miss out on promotion to League A.
After missing their friendly win over Sweden last Wednesday due to Covid-19 guidelines, Mathias Jensen and Henrik Dalsgaard were able to join up with the Denmark squad for their Nations League games against Iceland and Belgium. Mathias featured in both, starting against Iceland and coming off the bench against Belgium, while Henrik was twice an unused substitute. A late Christian Eriksen penalty saw off Iceland but defeat to Belgium on Wednesday denied The Danes top spot in League A2 as well as a place in the finals. Mathias now sits on four international appearances while Henrik has 26 outings to his name.
The other senior international action for our players came in Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying.
Tariqe Fosu started both Ghana’s games against Sudan, his third and fourth international appearances, which resulted in one win and one defeat for the Black Stars. Andre Ayew’s double gave Ghana the points in Cape Coast last Thursday and meant a positive result in Tuesday’s return would ensure qualification to the finals. However, Mohammed Abdul Rahman’s 90th-minute effort inflicted Ghana’s first defeat of qualifying and means they will have to wait until March to secure their participation in Cameroon 2022.
One side who did book their place in the finals were the reigning Champions, Algeria. Saïd Benrahma, currently on loan at West Ham United, played one of their two games against Zimbabwe as Les Verts secured the points needed to progress courtesy of a 3-1 win on home soil and 2-2 draw in Harare. Monday’s draw saw Saïd contribute an assist for Riyad Mahrez’s first-half goal, his second in six international games.
In Under-21 European Championship Qualifying it was a week to remember for Halil Dervişoğlu with Turkey. The 20-year-old struck a hat-trick on Friday in a 3-2 win over Austria and then followed it up with the opener against Kosovo in Tuesday’s 3-0 win. The four goals took him to seven in nine qualifiers and eight goals in ten games in total at this level. The back-to-back wins lifted Turkey to fourth in Group C.
In the same group, Josh Dasilva now has five England Under-21 caps after featuring in both their wins this month. The 22-year-old played the full 90 in Friday’s 3-1 victory over Andorra and then contributed an assist off the bench as the Young Lions rubber-stamped their impressive campaign with a 5-0 victory against Albania on Tuesday.
Also heading to next year’s finals in Hungary and Slovenia are Mads Bech Sorensen and Denmark. Like England, The Danes had sewn up qualifying prior to this round of fixtures following an unbeaten campaign. Their final fixture ended in a 1-1 draw against Romania, Mads playing the full 90 minutes in Ploiești to earn his sixth Under-21 cap.
Josh and Mads should be joined in next year’s finals by Patrik Gunnarsson and Valgeir Valgeirsson’s Iceland too. On the pitch Iceland picked up three points from their two games against Italy and Ireland. Patrik played the full 90 minutes in both, taking him to ten caps, while Valgeir missed out on the matchday squads. After conceding in injury-time to lose 2-1 to Italy last Wednesday, Iceland got their taste of late joy with a 92nd minute winner against Ireland on Sunday. That victory moved them into third in Group A, a point behind the Boys in Green.
Off the pitch, however, Iceland look set to be awarded the three points from their game against Armenia which was cancelled due to Covid-19 cases within the Armenian group. UEFA rules state that if a team cannot field the minimum required number of players and the match cannot be rescheduled, the team responsible for the match not taking place are considered to have forfeited the match and lost 0–3. Should that rule be enforced by the Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body, Iceland will leapfrog Ireland and secure one of the five best runners-up berths for the finals.
Joe Adams remained an unused substitute for Wales Under-21s as they ended their Group I campaign with a 3-0 win over Moldova and a creditable 2-1 defeat to pool winners Germany to finish fourth. Joe has one cap at Under-21 level, that coming last month against Belgium in qualifying.