International Preview

Tuesday 26 March 2013 14:41

Tuesday evening will finally see Aaron Hughes step out at Windsor Park as Northern Ireland take on Israel following the postponement of their match with Russia at the weekend. The Israelis have impressed in Group F so far, top scoring with 13 goals as they currently sit second in the table. A win for Michael O’Neill’s men will see them move to within two points of their opponents, although they will be without Chris Baird who misses out through suspension.

In Group A, Croatia are looking to build on Friday’s win over Serbia when they face Wales at Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium. Mladen Petrić didn’t make it off the substitutes’ bench last time out so he’ll be hoping he’s given the opportunity to shoot down Chris Coleman’s men, who go into the match on the back of victory over Scotland.

Kerim Frei will want to build on his cameo appearance for Turkey on Friday when they welcome Hungary to Istanbul in Group D. The Turkish will remain fourth in the table regardless of Tuesday evening’s result, but victory would see them move to within a point of the second-placed Hungarians.

The final European Qualifier potentially involving a Fulham man is in Denmark where Bulgaria and Stanislav Manolev are competing in Group B. They could finish the evening top of the group, although that would depend on Italy dropping points away to Malta.

Over in San José, Costa Rica will be desperate to bounce back from their defeat by the United States when they face Jamaica in a North, Central America and Caribbean World Cup Qualifier. Los Ticos will rely heavily on captain Bryan Ruiz to influence matters as they look to move off the foot of the table.

Away from the World Cup, Ashkan Dejagah is likely to start for Iran in their AFC Asian Cup Qualifier in Kuwait. Iran are currently level on points with their opponents at the top of Group B after one match but boast a superior goal difference following their 5-0 thumping of Lebanon at the beginning of February.

Alexander Kačaniklić played the full 90 minutes for Sweden against the Republic of Ireland on Friday and could be involved again for their friendly match against Slovakia at the Pod Dubnon stadium in Zilina.

Following his appearance on the bench for the full Finland squad in the draw with World Champions Spain, Jesse Joronen is back with the Under-21s for their friendly match away to Hungary.

Mark Schwarzer was in action earlier on Tuesday as Australia fought back from two goals down to snatch a draw against Oman. The Socceroos fell behind when Abdul Aziz beat Schwarzer after six minutes, with Mile Jedinak putting through his own net early in the second half to double the Omanis’ advantage.

But former Everton man Tim Cahill reduced the deficit moments later, and Brett Holman brought his country level with five minutes remaining of the match in Sydney. The point means Australia remain second in Group B of the Asian Qualifying section, seven points behind leaders Japan.