The dream of reaching the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is still very much alive for Frank Onyeka, Saman Ghoddos, and Halil Dervişoğlu after the latest round of Qualifiers around the globe.
Frank came off the bench on Tuesday to help Nigeria earn the point they needed against Cape Verde to progress to the Play-Off Round of CAF World Cup Qualification. The 23-year-old now has six caps for his nation, having missed last Saturday's 2-0 win over Liberia. The Super Eagles are one of ten teams who head into the CAF Play-Offs to fight it out for Africa's five spots in Qatar 2022.
Another side heading into the Play-Offs are Halil and Turkey. In a tight three-way battle with Netherlands and Norway, wins over Gibraltar and Montenegro saw Turkey grab second and a spot in March's Play-Offs. Stefan Kuntz's side put six past Gibraltar, Halil grabbing a brace to become our leading goalscorer in international football, before a 2-1 win in Podgorica wrapped up second spot, ahead of Norway. Halil now has four goals and one assist in nine international outings.
Victories over Lebanon and Syria have left Saman and IR Iran in pole position to book their spot in Qatar next year. Team Melli are ten points clear of third-placed United Arab Emirates with only four left to play. Saman played an hour in the 2-1 win over Lebanon last Thursday before watching Tuesday's 3-0 win over Syria from the bench. The 28-year-old has played 29 times for his nation, seven of which have come in this qualifying cycle.
For Marcus Forss and Patrik Gunnarsson the journey to Qatar is now at an end.
Marcus and Finland took Group D down to the final evening but a 2-0 defeat to France in Paris, coupled with Ukraine's win over Bosnia and Herzegovina, dropped The Finns out of the top two. That Finland got that far was, in part, thanks to Marcus, his goal setting The Eagle Owls on their way to a 3-1 victory over Bosnia last Saturday. It was the 22-year-old's second international goal in 11 outings for his nation.
Patrik is yet to make his senior debut for Iceland, who ended their World Cup Qualifying campaign fifth in Group J. The 21-year-old was named in the matchday squad six times in qualifying as Arnar Viðarsson's side took nine points from their ten games.
There were no such qualifying worries for Christian Norgaard and Mathias Jensen with Denmark, their spot in Qatar confirmed last month after eight wins from their opening eight games. A positive Covid-19 test saw Mathias withdrawn last Monday allowing Christian to draw level with his Brentford teammate on 15 international appearances when he featured against Faroe Islands. Christian picked up a booking during that 3-1 win over the Faroes meaning he was suspended for their first defeat of qualifying against Scotland on Monday. Regardless, it has been a fine campaign for the European Championship Semi-Finalists who head into the new year as the world's tenth ranked side.
At Under-21 level, it was a busy week in 2023 European Championship qualifying.
Mads Bidstrup came off the bench to earn his fourth cap for Denmark during their 2-1 victory over Turkey on Tuesday. That result leaves The Danes second in Group I, nine points behind leaders Belgium but with two games in hand.
Joe Adams scored twice in Wales' 7-0 win over Gibraltar on Friday but then couldn't help his side avoid defeat at home to Switzerland on Tuesday night. Goalkeeper Nathan Shepperd was an unused substitute for both games as Paul Bodin's side trail second-placed Netherlands by six points with four games to play in Group E. Joe has scored three goals in eight Under-21 matches while Nathan has appeared once for his nation. Fin Stevens was forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury.
Jan Žambůrek played 90 minutes in both of Czech Republic's qualifiers which ended in a 3-1 defeat to England and a 1-1 draw against Slovenia. Despite only taking a point from two matches, the Czech's remain top of Group G, three points ahead of the Young Lions having played two games more. Jan has started their last four qualifiers, taking him to 49 caps across all age groups.
Aaron Pressley's maiden Scotland call-up didn't result in a debut for the Brentford B striker. The 20-year-old watched on as The Scots beat Kazakhstan 2-1 before losing 2-0 to Belgium. In the same group as Mads and Denmark, Scotland trail The Danes by five points at the mid-way point.
Jaakko Oksanen added a 15th cap to his tally for Finland, starting their 3-1 defeat to Norway last Friday. The 21-year-old was then an unused substitute as the Little Eagle Owls beat Estonia 1-0 to keep pace at the top of Group A. With four games to play, The Finns are five points off a Play-Off spot and eight points off top.
Matt Cox and Daniel Oyegoke played their part as England cruised through their group in Under-19 European Championship Qualifying. Daniel played every minute while Matt started England's last two games. Ian Foster's side went through without conceding, topping their group in advancing to March's Elite Round.
Joining them in the Elite Round are Val Adedokun and Ireland after they finished runners-up in Group 6. Val played 88 minutes of their 1-1 draw against fellow qualifiers Bosnia and Herzegovina as Tom Mohan's side ended with seven points from three matches.