Bit of a late look at how Fulham’s internationals got on over the weekend.
Much of the attention was focused on Dublin on Saturday night. Raymond Domenech had unwittingly or otherwise described the Republic of Ireland as ‘England’s B team’ which allowed Richard Dunne to indulge in the kind of pre-match mind games you’d expect from a seasoned Premier League manager rather than someone who had always struck me as a sensible centre back.
All that added a bit of extra spice to the game at Croke Park on Saturday night. Ireland were unlucky to lose to Nicolas Anelka’s shot which deflected off the unfortunate Sean St. Ledger and wrongfooted Shay Given. The hosts, with Damien Duff to the fore, spurned three or four really good chances to go in front and will need to produce a majestic performance in Paris tonight. The clash on the pitch after the final whistle in Dublin, allegedly instigated by remarks made by Lassana Diarra, will make the second leg a tasty affair. Both Duff and Stephen Kelly, who was on the bench for the first game, should be involved.
Mark Schwarzer helped Australia inch closer towards qualification for the Asian Cup as the Socceroos won 2-1 in Muscat. The Aussies lead the way with just two games left, but had to come from behind in Muscat. Schwarzer saved a penalty but was powerless to stop the rebound before his team rallied to record an important victory.
Ghana came from behind twice to preserve their unbeaten World Cup qualifying record in an entertaining 2-2 with Mali. John Pantsil lasted the whole game at right back for the Black Stars, who have already booked their place in South Africa for next year’s finals.
Brede Hangeland was his usual commanding self as Norway brought Switzerland’s eleven-game unbeaten run to a halt with a 1-0 win in Geneva. John Carew scored the winner from the penalty spot.
The United States were somewhat surprisingly beaten by Slovakia on Saturday. Marek Hamsik scored the only goal of the game with a first half penalty, although the USA had the better of the second half. A tired Dempsey was taken off after 72 minutes and has been excused from taking part in tonight’s friendly with Denmark. Eddie Johnson came on as a second half substitute.
Seol Ki-Hyeon had a goal chalked off for offside as South Korea drew 0-0 with the Danes in Esbjerg.
The World Cup hosts, South Africa, were also involved in a goalless draw against Japan at the Nelson Mandela Stadium. Kagisho Dikgacoi played 68 minutes for Bafana Bafana.
Aaron Hughes and Chris Baird both managed the full 90 minutes as Northern Ireland were beaten by Serbia. Nigel Worthington’s side were felled by a Danko Lazovic effort and the plans will now be put in place for the start of their bid to qualify for the 2012 European Championships.
Andranik, something of a forgotten man at Fulham, made the winning goal for Javad Nekounam as Iran beat Jordan 1-0 in their Asian Cup qualifier at the weekend.