Another month came another International break. Surely, Fulham fans wish these games between one country against another would come at different points in the calendar year, especially considering that Slavisa Jokanovic’s team are getting back to winning ways. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a better alternative to determine who qualifies for World Cups, European Junior Championships and various other tournaments throughout International football. Still, representing your country is among the highest honors a professional footballer can achieve and one can feel a sense of pride that these players are able to build successful careers there because of playing for the club. With that, let’s take a look at how the men in south-west London performed during the most recent set of National team fixtures.
Chris Martin (Scotland)
Stefan Johansen (Norway)
Tomas Kalas (Czech Republic)
Michael Madl (Austria)
Ragnar Sigurdsson (Iceland)
Jesse Joronen (Finland)
Neeskans Kebano (D.R. Congo)
Floyd Ayite (Togo)
We start looking at how well Fulham’s players performed on International duty in Africa. Over there, Floyd Ayite represented Togo over the week despite his country failing to advance to the third round of World Cup qualifying after two defeats to Uganda. Still, Togo had two friendlies against Comoros and Morrocco. Ayite was a success by scoring once in each friendly to put his international totals to seven goals in 30 caps for Togo. However, Togo could only manage a 2-2 draw to Comoros followed by a 2-1 loss to Morrocco. Things haven’t been the same for Togo’s football team since Emanuel Adebayor’s retirement.
Elsewhere, Neeskans Kebano continued to play well for a talented Democratic Republic of Congo side. His 54th minute goal helped his national team start a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Guinea. With that, the Democratic Republic of Congo are still sitting on top of group play in World Cup qualifying with Tunisia being the only side to possibly stand in their way. Their match between the two sides won’t be until August 28th.
Meanwhile, there was an important game between Tomas Kalas’ Czech Republic versus Stefan Johansens’ Norway. Coming into the World Cup qualifier, both teams were on the outside looking in with Northern Ireland and Germany sitting in the top two of the six-team group. Any defeat would hinder any chance of making it to the 2018 tournament in Russia. Sadly, it was another defeat for Stefan Johansen at international level as the Czech Republic picked up its first win of the qualifying campaign, 2-0. On the other side, Kalas was an unused sub in the Norway game, but would then play the full 90 minutes in his country’s 1-1 friendly draw with Denmark.
Elsewhere in Europe, Ragnur Sigurdsson continued to be a staple for Iceland’s national team with a 90-minute appearance in their World Cup qualifier against Croatia. However, Iceland’s 2-0 loss resulted in having them drop to third place in their qualifying group. Sigurdsson would then follow that up with a 10-minute substitute appearance in his country’s 2-0 win over Malta in an international friendly.
Despite being selected for Scotland, Chris Martin was an unused substitute in their only game this international break in a World Cup qualifier against rivals England. The same also applied to Jesse Joronen for Finland’s World Cup qualifying defeat to Ukraine.
Lastly, congratulations to Michael Madl in receiving his first cap for Austria in their 0-0 draw against Slovakia! The 28-year old played the full 90 minutes at center back after being an unused substitute in his country’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Ireland.
Lasse Vigen Christensen (Denmark)
While some members of Fulham’s senior team played in competitive matches over the past week, others were playing for their country’s youth national team. For Lasse Vigen Christensen, it was another 90-minute outing for the Danish Under-21s that resulted in a 0-0 draw against Italy in an international friendly. Even if the game had no meaning to it, it serves as a great reminder how well Denmark has performed at the Under-21 level past couple of years and they should be competitive once again in this summer’s European Championships.
Marek Rodak (Slovakia)
Meanwhile, Marek Rodak started one of two international friendlies for Slovakia’s Under-20 squad. He started and played in the first half in his country’s 3-2 win over Ireland. Despite giving up a sixth minute goal, Slovakia would bounce back for Rodak just before halftime to come into the break 1-1. After giving up another goal in the 73rd minute, Slovakia bounced back with two goals in the final six minutes of the match to win the game.
Ryan Sessegnon (England)
Tayo Edun (England)
This month was an important one for the England Under-19 National Team. Three matches had to be played to determine if they could qualify for the elite round of the 2017 European Championships. England did not make it easy for themselves in a group that featured Greece, Wales and Luxembourg, but they won two of their three games to make it into the next round that will all take place in March.
First, England won 2-0 over Luxembourg with Ryan Sessegnon scoring the second goal in the 80th minute. It was his first goal at Under-19 competition and another added to a collection of many accolades for the 16-year old sensation. Next, England lost to rivals Wales 3-2. After playing the full 90 minutes in each of the first two games, Tayo Edun was an unused sub in England’s 2-0 win over Greece. Meanwhile, Sessegnon played all three games by starting the first two games followed by being a 58th minute substitute in the Greece win. In total, he would play 190 minutes during the week.
England will know which teams they will face in the elite round of qualifying on December 13th.
Dennis Adeniran (England)
While England’s Under-18 side did not play in any meaningful games, they still played in two friendlies that presented challenges. First, England won 2-0 over Poland thanks to a brace from George Hirst. Next, England drew 0-0 to France but lost in a penalty shootout 5-4. For Fulham’s Dennis Adeniran, he would start in both games; first playing all 90 minutes and received a yellow card against Poland followed by being substituted in the 60th minute by Arsenal’s Marcus McGuane against France.
Meanwhile Mikolaj Kwietniewski was not a member of Poland’s Under-18 squad in their two international friendlies against England and France.