As we approach a weekend without football for the Royals, a few of our players have already been involved in action with their nations.
That includes a couple of debuts on the international stage, as well as involvement in the first fixture of a World Cup qualifying campaign…
Liam Moore: USA vs Jamaica
Royals captain Liam Moore made his debut for the Reggae Boyz at Stadion Wiener Neustadt – he was named in the starting XI alongside two ex-Reading players in Adrian Mariappa and Michael Hector.
Moore put in a typically committed display against USA – denying Josh Sargent the opening goal with a big block and making a number of key interceptions, defensive headers and blocks throughout. But for all the Jamaican effort, a screamer from long range by Sergino Dest and a close-range finish by Brenden Aaronson had the USMNT two goals up.
Jamal Lowe reduced the arrears with a chipped finished from a tight angle, but two goals by Sebastian Lletget sealed a 4-1 win for the USA… an ever-competitive Moore visibly frustrated when the last goal was converted in the 90th minute.
George Pușcaș: Romania vs North Macedonia
Forward George Pușcaș came off the bench to help his country to a win against North Macedonia, as their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign got off to a successful start – an eventful fixture which almost went awry for the Romanians, but ultimately resulted in victory.
Florin Tănase and Valentin Mihăilă netted either side of half-time to put the hosts in command in Bucharest – and Pușcaș was subbed on with quarter of the game remaining to earn his 21st senior cap.
Then suddenly North Macedonia were level – goals in the 82nd and 83rd minutes by Arijan Ademi and Aleksandar Trajkovski put the visitors level. But panic averted when Rangers attacker Ianis Hagi put Romania into a decisive 3-2 lead just two minutes later, giving Romania three points in Group J. Matches against Germany and Armenia follow for Puski, before a return to Reading next week.
Alfa Semedo: Eswatini vs Guinea-Bissau
There’s nothing quite like a must-win fixture to mark an international debut. And that’s what it was for Alfa Semedo, selected in the starting XI for Guinea-Bissau for a trip to Eswatini in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
And what better impact than scoring a critical goal, to set up a grandstand finish to the group! Visiting Guinea-Bissau took an early lead through CD Lugo defender Marcelo Djalo, but Felix Badenhorst levelled soon after for the hosts. But then up stepped Royals man Semedo with a goal on his international debut, midway through the first half, to put his nation ahead again. Coming central from the right, he unleashed a left-footed effort which the goalkeeper couldn't do anything about as it nestled into the bottom corner.
Then former Royal Pelé slotted in a third for Guinea-Bissau to make it 3-1 early in the second half - that's how it ended. Now they await the result of Congo vs Senegal later on Friday afternoon; if Congo fail to beat the group leaders, then Guinea-Bissau can qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations by winning at home against Congo next Tuesday.