International Whites

Friday 11 October 2013 09:00

Pajtim Kasami has been rewarded for his fine form this season with a first call-up to the full Switzerland squad for their World Cup Qualifiers. Fulham teammate Philippe Senderos has also travelled as the Swiss face Albania in Tirana on Friday, before returning home to take on Slovenia on Tuesday. Just one point should be sufficient to see them qualify for the Finals next year, as they currently sit five points clear at the top of Group E with a vastly superior goal difference to the teams below.

In the same group, Brede Hangeland and Norway still harbour hopes of nabbing second spot. They currently sit fourth in the table but are set to play the two sides directly above them, so six points from their clashes away to Slovenia and against Iceland in Oslo will give them a good chance of securing that runners-up position.

Elsad Zverotić is set to play in one of the most important matches of his career to date when his Montenegro side face England at Wembley. Roy Hodgson’s men currently sit a point ahead of Zverotić’s nation so there’s everything to play for in Group H, with Ukraine and Poland also in contention to make it to Brazil. Montenegro then face Moldova on home soil next week.

Giorgos Karagounis will be expecting his Greece side to take maximum points from their two home matches against Slovakia and Liechtenstein as they aim to avoid the need to navigate the World Cup Play-Offs. They will be looking for Bosnia-Herzegovina to slip up as well, though, as their Group G rivals – while on the same number of points – boast a far more enviable goal difference.

Sweden can still mathematically win Group C but they face a tall order to catch Germany with just two matches remaining. First up for Alexander Kačaniklić and his teammates is a home game against Austria, before they host the table-toppers four days later. There is a good chance the match will be a dead rubber for the unbeaten Germans by that point, though – depending on how Friday’s fixtures pan out.

Over in the South American Qualifying Section, Venezuela’s hopes of a spot in Brazil are mathematical only as they go into their final match. Fernando Amorebieta is in the squad but his side will need to beat Paraguay on Friday, whilst hoping other results go their way in addition to a significant goal-swing falling in their favour.

Bryan Ruiz’s Costa Rica have already guaranteed a place at Brazil 2014 so the pressure is off to an extent for their final two matches in the CONCACAF qualifiers. They have an away game in Honduras first, before rounding off their campaign when they welcome Mexico to San Jose next week.

Away from World Cup action, Ashkan Dejagah has recovered from injury in time to meet up with Iran for their Asian Cup Qualifier against Thailand in Tehran. Iran currently sit top of Group B, while their opponents are bottom with no points after two games.

Adel Taarabt is back in the Morocco squad and could feature in their friendly match with South Africa in Agadir on Friday, while Neil Etheridge is in the Philippines party for their Peace Cup games against Chinese Taipei and Pakistan.

Three players are due to take part in European Championship qualifiers for their Under-21 sides. Lasse Vigen Christensen is in the Denmark squad for their games against Slovenia and Russia, and Josh Pritchard has received a call-up to the Wales team for the home matches with Lithuania and San Marino. Jesse Joronen’s Finland face a trip to Moldova on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Muamer Tankovic grabbed a hat-trick as Sweden Under-19s claimed an emphatic 4-1 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in the first of their UEFA Championship qualifiers.