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7 countries, 9 players, and a lot at stake…

7 October 2015

Plenty on offer for the international Royals

The upcoming international break will see nine players on duty for their respective countries, with a lot at stake for plenty of the boys all over the globe.

All times listed are British Summer Time – here’s a look at the results we’re looking out for over the long international weekend…

Ireland vs Germany, Thursday 8th October 7.45pm
Poland vs Ireland, Sunday 11th October 7.45pm

After missing out in the last pair of international fixtures as a precaution, captain Paul McShane is recalled to the Republic of Ireland squad – however this time Stephen Quinn is laid low with the injury that kept him out of the Royals’ last two games.  Automatic qualification for Euro 2016 is still a possibility – it would probably mean beating both Germany and Poland, and for McShane that would mean keeping the likes of Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski nice and quiet. 

If Scotland lose to Poland, Ireland are guaranteed third position (and a play-off place), regardless of their result against Germany.  However with so many potential permutations of the first set of fixtures, Ireland’s trip to Warsaw on Sunday may end up having a great deal of significance for the whole group.

South Korea vs Jamaica, Tuesday 13th October 12pm

At the last international outing, Michael Hector and the Jamaica team scraped past Nicaragua in their World Cup 2018 qualifying play-off double-header to reach the group stage – it took an 89th-minute goal to prevent their dream of securing a place at Russia 2018 from taking a premature end. 

This time, Hec is joined by countryman Garath McCleary, who could make his first appearance for the Reggae Boyz since the final of the Gold Cup.  They travel to face South Korea in a friendly fixture, which will be the third time the two nations have met.  The played a double-header of friendlies in Seoul in 1998, and this friendly offers a chance for the Caribbean side to register their first win against their Asian hosts.

Northern Ireland vs Greece, Thursday 8th October 7.45pm
Finland vs Northern Ireland, Sunday 11th October 5pm

The maths is simple for Oliver Norwood and Northern Ireland – defeat Greece at Windsor Park, and they will qualify for the European Championships for the first time in the 56-year history of the competition.  On paper, it looks very achievable – Greece, who sent shockwaves around Europe by winning the tournament against all the odds in 2004, currently lie bottom of the qualifying group with three draws, five defeats and no wins.

If Northern Ireland don’t win, then Hungary – who play their fixture against behind closed doors against Faroe Islands – can keep the pressure on with victory.  Northern Ireland, who currently lead the group, would then face a nerve-jangling trip to Helsinki to face Finland – but the Ulstermen will be keen to wrap up their passage before then.

Oman vs Iran, Thursday 8th October 3.30pm
Oman vs India, Tuesday 13th October 3.30pm

Oman are on a remarkable run of four wins and a draw in their last five fixtures, including three competitive games in the World Cup qualifiers in the AFC pool.  If Ali Al-Habsi and his compatriots can beat group-leaders Iran in Muscat, they would sit atop the group at the midpoint of the second round and put themselves into a commanding position to reach the next group stage.

For this round of fixtures, there is no need for the Omanis to make a cross-continental journey – instead they can relax at home before facing India, who have lost all three of their World Cup qualifiers to date – including a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Oman in Bangalore.

Colombia vs Peru, Thursday 8th October 9.30pm
Peru vs Chile, Wednesday 14th October 3.15am

Royals winger Paolo Hurtado heads out to South America to try to help Peru get their World Cup qualifiers off to a good start; with a total of 18 matches to play in qualifying, it will certainly be a marathon campaign.  Matchday 1 sees Los Incas visit Colombia in Barranquilla; it isn’t traditionally a matchup that Peru have done too well in.  Peru were extra-time victors when the nations met in the quarter-final of the 2011 Copa America, but that was only the second win in their 17 meetings.

Then it’s back to Lima for the second fixture against Chile – the Peruvians upset their visitors in the equivalent fixture back in the qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup, with Jefferson Farfan netting the game’s only goal in the dying embers of the match.

USA vs Mexico, Sunday 11th October 2.30am
USA vs Costa Rica, Tuesday 13th October 11.30pm

USA and Danny Williams face their eternal rivals Mexico in an all-or-nothing clash in Pasadena, California.  By virtue of winning the 2013 Gold Cup, the USMNT will take on the 2015 winners of the competition in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup – along with a trophy to add to the cabinet, the victor will also earn qualification to the 2017 Confederations Cup.  Hosts Russia, 2014 World Cup holders Germany, 2015 Asian Cup winners Australia and 2015 Copa America winners Chile have already booked a place at the Confederations Cup.

The second match for midfielder Williams is a bit more of a low-key affair – USA take on Costa Rica in a friendly fixture at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey in the late hours on Tuesday evening.  Royals duo Garath McCleary and Michael Hector may take an interest in the performance of the visitors, as Jamaica face Costa Rica home and away in March as part of their World Cup qualifying.

Bosnia vs Wales, Saturday 10th October 7.45pm
Wales vs Andorra, Tuesday 13th October 7.45pm

After a quite incredible qualifying campaign with Wales, Hal Robson-Kanu and Chris Gunter have the chance to finish the job and secure qualification to Euro 2016 this weekend and make history with their nation.  A goalless draw against a stubborn Israel side last time out in Cardiff meant that they couldn’t quite book the trip to France next summer just yet, but a single point from a trip to Bosnia and a home tie with Andorra will be enough.

To not lose both games looks a formality for a nation that is undefeated in their eight qualifiers – in particular with minnows Andorra visiting the Cardiff City Stadium – but the Welsh boys won’t be tempting fate.  They will be aiming to qualify on a high with a win in Zenica, and using the second fixture as a purely celebratory affair.

We also have a number of players on international duty at youth level – defenders Sean Long and Shane Griffin will feature for Ireland U21 against their counterparts from Lithuania and Italy in their Under-21 European Championships qualifiers, while Dominic Hyam will represent Scotland U21 against France and Iceland.  Zak Jules and Scotland U19 will face hosts Germany, Mexico and USA in a round-robin competition and Axel Andresson and Sindri Scheving will turn out for Iceland U19 in two games against Northern Ireland.

After the international break, we’re back at Madejski Stadium – we’re aiming to keep our recent run going as we host Charlton on Saturday 17th October.  Are you joining us for this one?  Click here for ticket information for that fixture…

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