International Whites

Friday 15 November 2013 09:00

Alexander Kačaniklić and Giorgos Karagounis are each set for two vital fixtures in their international careers, starting on Friday, with a place at next year’s FIFA World Cup up for grabs.

For Kačaniklić, it would be a fantastic reward for a remarkable surge to prominence in the national side, as the winger featured in all but one of Sweden’s qualifying matches in Group C. They now face Portugal in the Play-Offs and with one of Europe’s most in-form players on either side – Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo – it’s a tie that neutrals across the globe are relishing. Kačaniklić and his teammates are in Lisbon for the First Leg on Friday, before returning to Solna to wrap their campaign up on Tuesday.

Goal difference was all that denied Greece automatic qualification from the Group Stages, but Karagounis and co will still fancy their chances of booking their spot in Brazil. They face a Romania side who won six less points than Greece over the 10 group matches, whilst they also conceded three times as many goals. The First Leg will be played on Greek soil, before the decider in Bucharest four days later.

Ashkan Dejagah is the only other player in competitive action for his nation, as Iran have a double header of AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers. First up they face Thailand in Bangkok on Friday, before another away trip on Tuesday when they travel to Beirut to take on Lebanon. Six points from the matches would put Iran firmly in control of Group B as they already sit top of the standings by two points.

A host of friendly matches are set to take place on Friday, with Swiss duo Pajtim Kasami and Philippe Senderos both in the squad for their game against Korea Republic in Seoul, while Aaron Hughes is somewhat closer to home for Northern Ireland’s fixture away to Turkey.

Following his return to fitness, Maarten Stekelenburg has earned a recall to the Netherlands squad and could feature in their friendlies against Japan on Saturday or Colombia on Tuesday. And there’s just one international game on Sunday featuring a Fulham man, as Elsad Zverotić’s Montenegro are away to Luxembourg.

Jesse Joronen was in goal, and captained the side, as Finland Under-21s went down to a 3-0 defeat by England on Thursday evening in their European Championship Qualifier, and they’re back in action once again on Saturday when they travel to Cardiff to face Wales. Elsewhere in Under-21 Qualifiers, Lasse Vigen Christensen is in the Denmark squad for their games at home to Bulgaria on Friday and away to Andorra on Tuesday.