International Whites

Thursday 5 October 2017 07:00

Tim Ream’s United States have their World Cup destiny in their own hands going into the final round of matches.

The top-three from the CONCACAF region will automatically progress to Russia, while fourth place will compete in a Play-Off.

The States currently occupy that fourth spot, but they’re only a point behind third place Panama who they host in Orlando on Friday before travelling to the Port of Spain to take on bottom nation Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday.

Oliver Norwood and Northern Ireland have all but secured a Play-Off spot after guaranteeing they finish as runners-up in Group C of European qualifying.

Out of the nine groups, the eight nations to have finished second with the best points tally will advance to the Play-Offs.

Northern Ireland are currently the second best placed side in that cluster of nine countries, and so they would need to lose at home to Germany and away to Norway, as well as all the other runners-up picking up maximum points, to miss out.  

Stefan Johansen is in that Norway squad who are now just playing for pride and can only finish as high as third in Group C.

They’re away to San Marino on Thursday before welcoming Northern Ireland to Oslo three days later.

Group C has a significant Fulham presence to it with Tomas Kalas also set to feature.

The Czech Republic are another nation whose final fixtures have little riding on them; they travel to Baku to play Azerbaijan on Thursday, followed by San Marino in Plzen on Sunday.

Estonia could technically still finish second in Group H but it is effectively impossible as they would need a 22-goal swing to displace Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Mattias Kait has been in good form for his country since making his debut, and he’ll be hoping for some more international experience in their meetings with Gibraltar and the Bosnians.

In Africa, Neeskens Kebano still has plenty to play for as the Democratic Republic of Congo aim to snatch a place in Russia.

Only the top side in Group A will qualify, and that is currently Tunisia who sit three points above Congo with two fixtures remaining apiece.

Kebano and his teammates are away to Libya on Saturday before their final match at home to Guinea in November. It’s likely they’ll need to win them both and hope Tunisia slip up in order to book a World Cup place.

At Under-21 level, two of Fulham’s youngsters will be competing in European Qualifiers.

Aron Davies’ Wales travel to Liechtenstein, while Jon Dagur Thorsteinsson and Iceland have an away double header with Slovakia and Albania.

Tayo Edun is back in the England Under-20 camp for their friendlies against Italy and the Czech Republic, and Steven Sessegnon is hoping for World Cup glory in India with the Under-17s.

Finally, Mikolaj Kwietniewski is in the Poland Under-19 party for their trio of European Qualifiers against Northern Ireland, Belarus and Germany.

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