Four more games to watch in World Cup qual­i­fy­ing

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

EURO­PEAN qual­i­fiers for the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia re­sumes this week with ev­ery na­tion play­ing twice af­ter start­ing their cam­paigns last month. We pick the big­gest high­lights from the week’s matches:

South­gate leads trou­bled Eng­land Eng­land turn their back on the ab­bre­vi­ated Sam Al­lardyce era as care­taker man­ager Gareth South­gate leads the team in a dou­ble-header of Group F matches against Malta at Wembley and away to Slove­nia. Al­lardyce left his post “by mu­tual con­sent” last week af­ter just 67 days af­ter be­ing caught giv­ing ad­vice about how to cir­cum­vent trans­fer rules and mocking his pre­de­ces­sor, Roy Hodg­son, in a news­pa­per sting, as well as helm­ing a 1-0 win in Slo­vakia. A slip-up against Malta, ranked 176th in the world, is un­think­able, but Slove­nia could prove sticky op­po­nents with a squad that con­tains Atletico Madrid goal­keeper Jan Oblak. Eng­land also needed to be lifted by a late Rooney goal to win in Ljubl­jana in Euro 2016 qual­i­fy­ing. France look for kick-start Di­dier Deschamps’ France re­turn to the Stade de France to play Bul­garia to­mor­row, their first match there since los­ing in ex­tra time to Por­tu­gal in the Euro 2016 fi­nal. Since that ag­o­nis­ing de­feat, Les Bleus slumped into their World Cup qual­i­fy­ing cam­paign, draw­ing 0-0 away to Be­larus. A win against Bul­garia would give them some breath­ing room be­fore fac­ing main Group A ri­vals the Nether­lands in Am­s­ter­dam on Oc­to­ber 10. Bul­garia have a new coach in Pe­tar Hubchev, who played when they last came to France in 1993 and notched a 2-1 win that fa­mously de­nied the hosts a place at the fol­low­ing year’s World Cup in the USA.

Kosovo play first ‘home’ game Kosovo’s com­pet­i­tive de­but last month ended in a cred­itable 1-1 draw away to Fin­land, with Valon Ber­isha scor­ing their maiden World Cup goal. It was a re­mark­able re­sult given that FIFA only ap­proved some play­ers on the day of the game. Now Al­bert Bun­jaki’s side play their first “home” game, al­though they will face Croa­tia in the Al­ba­nian city of Shkoder. In an ex­tremely tough group, they fol­low to­mor­row’s match by play­ing Ukraine on Oc­to­ber 9 in Krakow.

Ice­land, Turkey meet again Ice­land’s re­mark­able jour­ney to the quar­ter­fi­nals of Euro 2016 started with a 3-0 home win against a stunned Turkey in Reyk­javik in Septem­ber 2014. Now with Heimir Hall­grims­son in sole charge af­ter Lars Lager­back de­parted fol­low­ing the Eu­ros, Ice­land host Turkey again. Both teams drew 1-1 in their open­ing matches, Ice­land in Ukraine and Turkey in Croa­tia. –

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