It doesn’t look as though Fulham will have much of an impact at next year’s World Cup in Russia after both Northern Ireland and DR Congo crashed out at the final hurdle leaving both Ollie Norwood and Neeskens Kebano heart broken.
For Northern Ireland, it was a two-legged play-off between them and Switzerland to decide a place at the World Cup. After 180minutes of football, it was only Ricardo Rodriguez’s controversial penalty in Belfast that sealed the tie. Norwood started both the 1-0 defeat in Belfast and the 0-0 draw in Basel, but came off after 75minutes for Charlton man Josh Magennis in the second leg. Northern Ireland will feel frustrated in the manner of defeat thanks to a penalty that should never have been awarded, but no one can doubt that Switzerland had the better of the chances throughout both legs. Norwood struggled to keep Arsenal man Granit Xhaka quiet in the first leg, but put in a much more dominant performance in Basel where Northern Ireland piled the pressure on to their hosts. Ultimately it wasn’t to be for the Fulham midfielder and Northern Ireland as they missed out on a chance to reach back to back major tournaments for the first time in their history.
It was a slightly different story for Neeskens Kebano and DR Congo as they won their last group game, but missed out on a World Cup spot thanks to results not going their way elsewhere. DR Congo put in an impressive performance to beat Guinea 3-1, with our man getting himself on the scoresheet deep into injury time with a right footed shot alongside an own goal from Ousmane Sidibe and a Jonathan Bolingi penalty. But Tunisia’s goalless draw with Libya was enough for them to finish top of the group and to shatter the hopes and dreams of DR Congo. Kebano played the full match.