The international break is here again. This time, it’s all about qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. For some countries, it will be all about finishing top of their group. For some others, it will be about making it to the play-offs and then pulling a rabbit out of their hats.
In the coming days, you can look forward to seeing players don their national colors, sing – or mumble – their national anthems (although things could get complicated when Spain plays, no thanks to the Catalonia referendum drama) and try to get the better of their opponents.
While we all hope to see fireworks as these games are played, which of these games can you watch out for in the coming days?
In Africa, the spotlight will shine, in part, on the countries that are yet to taste defeat in the current CAF World Cup Qualification campaign. These teams include Nigeria, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Morocco, and Senegal.
Also, teams like Algeria, Lybia, Mali, and Congo are no more in contention to represent the continent in Russia next year. So, most likely there may not be too much focus on their games.
That being said, one of the games you can look out for is the Nigeria vs. Zambia game. Both teams are still very much in contention to qualify out of their group, with the Super Eagles on 10 points and the Chipolopolo on 7 points.
The game between Morocco and Gabon is another game to look out for as both teams are separated on the table by just one point. In a group where the top three teams are separated by just one point, you can be sure this is one encounter you cannot afford to miss out.
The biggest news of this current qualification campaign is how the Syrians have defied all odds – including having to play all their games in other countries – and have come this far in their bid to qualify for the FIFA World Cup.
Up next for them are the Australians, who are used to featuring on the biggest stage in world football. This will be a real test for the resolve of the Syrians. The first of both legs will be played on Thursday while the return leg will be played next Tuesday.
In this part of the world, teams still in contention for a World Cup ticket will be looking to qualify “in a straight-forward manner” instead of having to go through the “Play-off route.”
Looking at the list of games to be played, one standout game is the one between Northern Ireland and Germany. Northern Ireland has only lost once since their campaign began and that loss came when they faced the Germans around this time last year.
Though 5 points adrift and with somewhat of an assurance to finish the campaign in a play-off spot, the Irish will be looking to get their own pound of flesh when they play the Germans.
While the Swiss will be looking to maintain their 100 percent record when they take on Hungary, Serbia will be looking to remain 4 points ahead of their closest competition in the form of Wales. But the big action will be taking place in Group I.
The top four teams (Croatia, Iceland, Turkey, Ukraine) are separated by just two points. While Ukraine takes on Kosovo which has just one point, Turkey and Iceland will square off against each other.
Iceland – second on the table with 16 points – will be looking for a win, to either overtake Croatia (16 points) at the top of the log or cement their play-off spot. Turkey on the other hand is currently third on the table with 14 points. A win can send them to the top of the log, leapfrogging every other team above them.
- South America
The biggest news to come out of this part of the world is that it’s likely that the FIFA World Cup may not feature star names like Lionel Messi and Alexis Sanchez. With Argentina 5th and Chile 6th on the log, it’s not hard to imagine a World Cup without these stars.
That being said, there’s only one game to watch out for. It’s the game between Argentina and Peru. Both sides currently have 24 points and the same goal difference of +1, with Peru placed 4th on the log. It’s a direct contest between two countries whose players will want to spend their next summer in Russia.
Which of these games are you already looking forward to? Leave us a comment and let’s know what you think.Tags: international break, Russia 2018, world cup qualifiers