The journey to the Qatar World Cup next winter is complete for Christian Nørgaard and Mathias Jensen after Denmark’s wins over Moldova and Austria clinched top spot in Group F. Christian netted his maiden international goal during Saturday’s 4-0 win over Moldova before a Joakim Mæhle strike secured the necessary points on Tuesday night at home to Austria. The Danes are the second nation, following Germany, to ensure their participation next year through qualifying.
Christian and Mathias featured in both this week’s matches, taking their international tally to 14 and 15 respectively. All of those caps have come during their time at Brentford as the pair close in on Henrik Dalsgaard’s record of 22 caps won while with the Club.
Another to play twice for their country over the past few days was Frank Onyeka. The midfielder earned a recall to the Nigeria squad after a year out and went on to play every minute of the Super Eagles CAF qualifiers against Central African Republic. Following a shock 1-0 defeat on home soil last Thursday, Nigeria bounced back with a 2-0 win in Sunday’s reverse fixture to maintain a two-point advantage at the head of the group.
Gernot Rohr’s side need four points from next month’s games against Liberia and Cape Verde to secure top spot and passage through to the final Play-Off round which will determine Africa’s five representatives in Qatar 2022.
Saman Ghoddos was an unused substitute for both games as IR Iran maintained their strong start to the Final Round of AFC Qualifying. A 1-0 win over UAE and Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with South Korea means Team Melli have taken ten points from a possible 12 to open up a five-point gap between themselves and third approaching the midway point. Saman remains on 28 international caps, six of those coming since joining The Bees permanently.
Halil Dervişoğlu earned his seventh cap for Turkey as the picked up four points this week. Halil, who has scored twice for his nation, was an unused substitute during their 1-1 draw with Norway and then came on for the final 16 minutes of Monday’s dramatic 2-1 win over Latvia. That victory, which came courtesy of a 99th minute Burak Yilmaz penalty, means it is all to play for next month. With games remaining against Gibraltar and Montenegro, Turkey trail Norway by two points and are four behind Netherlands.
Patrik Gunnarsson is still awaiting his senior Iceland debut after being an unused substitute for their two qualifiers this month. A 1-1 draw against Armenia and a 4-0 win over Liechtenstein kept alive Iceland’s slim chances of making it to next winter’s finals. Arnar Viðarsson’s side need to beat Romania and North Macedonia next month and hope a number of results go their way if they are to clinch second and a Play-Off spot.
In Under-21 European Championship Qualifying, it was a positive week for Jan Žambůrek and Czech Republic as they did the double over Kosovo, making it four qualifying wins from four in the process. On his Under-21 debut, Jan played 84 minutes of Thursday’s 1-0 win in Pristina before completing the full 90 of Tuesday’s 3-0 return victory. The Czechs have a three-point advantage at the head of Group G ahead of games against England and Slovenia next month.
Others to play twice this week on the road to Romania and Georgia were the Welsh duo of Fin Stevens and Joe Adams. Following a promising start in Group E, it was a difficult week for Paul Bodin’s side who followed up a 1-0 defeat in Moldova with a 5-0 loss to the Netherlands. Those back-to-back defeats have dropped Wales to fifth with four points from four games. Fin has played every minute so far in qualifying while Joe has also started all four games. A third Brentford representative, goalkeeper Nathan Shepperd, has made the matchday squad for their last three matches but is yet to make his competitive debut.
In Group I, there was a Denmark Under-21 debut for Mads Bidstrup against Scotland on Thursday night. The game ended in a 1-0 Denmark win at Tynecastle with Mads coming on for the final five minutes. The 20-year-old was then not involved on Tuesday night as The Danes suffered their first defeat of the campaign at the hands of Group leaders Belgium.
Two of our out-on-loan youngsters also featured this week with Jaakko Oksanen and Alex Gilbert getting minutes for Finland and Ireland respectively. Jaakko earned his 14th Finnish Under-21 cap as a late substitute in a 3-1 win over Austria on Tuesday while Alex came on during Ireland’s 2-0 win over Luxembourg on Friday before starting Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat in Montenegro to earn his fifth and sixth caps.
Finland and Ireland both occupy fourth spot in their groups, Finland trailing group leaders Croatia by five points with Ireland four points off pace-setters Sweden.
Goalkeeper Matt Cox enjoyed a debut to remember, helping England Under-20s to a 5-0 friendly win over Czech Republic. The 19-year-old didn’t feature in the Young Lions 1-1 draw against Italy on Thursday but did play the final 10 minutes of Monday’s big win in Teplice.
At Under-19 level, Daniel Oyegoke played two of England’s three matches this week as Ian Foster’s side completed their preparations for next month’s Qualifying Round for the Under-19 European Championships. Daniel started the Young Lions’ first two games, a defeat to France and victory over Mexico, but wasn’t involved on Tuesday as they lost to Belgium.
Also preparing for next month’s Euro Qualifiers were Val Adedokun and Republic of Ireland. Val earned his first two Under-19 caps this week, both games in Marbella ending level against Sweden.