Caribbean Football‘s Nathan Carr looks at St Kitts and Nevis’ World Cup qualifying preparation and speaks to two players, captain Atiba Harris and winger Zeph Thomas…
It’s that time again: when those smaller nations all over the world can dream of making it to global football’s showpiece event – the World Cup. The CONCACAF qualifying cycle for 2018 commences with the first round in March and will last for 33 months. One such team harbouring hopes of making it out of the first round and going onto have a successful campaign is St Kitts and Nevis.
Affectionately nicknamed as “The Sugar Boyz”, the Caribbean twin-island were drawn against the Turks & Caicos Islands in the confederation’s preliminary draw conducted in Miami in mid-January, which determined the region’s first and second rounds, while the other three phases will be decided later in July in St Petersburg. They will host the first leg in the capital Basseterre on Monday 23rd before travelling to Providenciales for the second leg three days later, and spirits are high among the camp ahead of the match-up.
The country’s captain Atiba Harris, currently contracted to FC Dallas in Major League Soccer said, “It’s always a great feeling surrounding the World Cup draw. I’m excited and looking forward to the start of the campaign. As a nation, we’ll love to go as far as possible but at this present time, our main focus is on doing well and getting a positive result against Turks & Caicos.” Continue reading
Hugo Greenhalgh looks at the Europa League matches worth watching this week…
Due to the size of its fixture list, and the obscure nature of the teams involved, the Europa League holds a strange sort of voyeuristic appeal for non-involved fans to enjoy from afar. Sometimes derided by English fans, it can offer a wonderful and rare glimpse into the less-travelled ecosystems of European football, especially with regards to the continents’ more obscure smaller sides.
Such is the scale of this leviathan, season-long tournament, and the format of its qualifying phase, 137 teams have already taken part in this year’s competition. This number will be whittled down to 48 after the Play-Off Round that begins this Thursday.
To help you find your footing and make sense of it all, we present the four picks of the latest round of qualifiers…
TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh profiles Middlesbrough’s Albert Adomah and looks at the other players with non-league connections at this World Cup…
Ghana’s squad for this World Cup might be one of the youngest at the tournament but it still features some illustrious names from Europe’s top leagues. In Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari they possess two Champions League winners with nearly 140 caps between them, while Kevin-Prince Boateng, André Ayew and Kwadwo Asamoah have been recent regulars in the competition. Yet alongside stars such as these, there are a couple of players who started their careers in England’s non-league.
Albert Adomah currently plays for Middlesbrough but he started out at another ‘Boro, five divisions lower, in the Isthmian Premier with Harrow Borough FC. Adomah used to have kickabouts with his local street wardens when he was a teenager and they encouraged him to play for a Sunday team. This lead to trials at Harrow Borough, in North West London, who Adomah signed for while he continued to take a painting and decorating course at a local college. Continue reading
Matt Davies complete his previews of the weekend’s World Cup Qualifiers with a focus on the fixtures taking place today in Africa…
Zimbabwe v Mozambique
Nothing to play for in this one, with neither team impressing at all in this one. Egypt won this group months ago and both of these teams sit at the bottom of the group. Not much to say, a draw in the previous game seems like a repeat result. Draw.
Togo v Congo DR
What should have been the toughest group in qualification hasn’t been as tight as most expected. Primarily, this is down to Togo and their poor goal scoring record without Adebayor and poor decision making by playing an ineligible player in their only victory against Cameroon. Congo DR were highly fancied to go to Rio but haven’t taken advantage of mistakes by other teams having scored only two goals in this campaign. Away win.
Matt Davies continues his extensive rundown of the weekend’s World Cup Qualifiers…
All times are GMT.
Israel v Azerbaijan – 18:45
Israel are chasing Portugal and Russia in Group F, and should keep the pressure on with a victory here against an Azerbaijan side that lack quality. Israel have options in the squad with youth coming through and if they can keep their heads in the remaining fixtures they could benefit from a slip up. Home win.
Central African Republic v Ethiopia
Ehiopia are in a great position in Group A where a win would guarentee them a place in the African playoffs. The squad are primarily domestic based and they’ve impressed on a continental scale by qualifying for the AFCON in 2013. CAR are already eliminated and haven’t looked good during this campaign. Away win. Continue reading
In his TFN debut, Matt Davies runs through every single World Cup Qualifier taking place over the international break. Time to once again take a step down the road to Brazil 2014…
All times are GMT.
Russia v Luxembourg – 15:30
Perennial underdogs Luxembourg head to Kazan to face a Russian team going through a slight crisis after rolling over meekly to Portugal and losing away in Northern Ireland in their last qualifiers. Fabio Capello will hope to return to winning ways though, and qualification is still in their hands. A win will put Russia top of their group, and while Luxemburg have a respectful 3 points from 6 games, it could be a bump to earth after drawing away in Azerbaijan last time out. Home win.
Kazakhstan v Faroe Islands – 16:00
This game will most likely slip under the radar – both teams field players who wouldn’t really be classed as stars, and neither have sprung any surprises in qualification so far. The trip to (far) eastern Europe will likely do no favours for the Faroese and it seems probable that they won’t get anything in this fixture. Home win.
Czech Republic v Armenia – 17:00
The Czech Republic play as a solid unit, with a more than capable back five. Gone are the big names from the last decade (with the exceptions of Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky); they will aim to stifle the opposition into submission, as they did when they reached the second round in Euro 2012. Armenia’s stock is most definitely on the rise this qualification. A great result beating Denmark 0-4 away in the last round proves that point, and in £21.5m Dortmund signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan they have one of the rising stars in European football. They are a pacey, open team that will look to use their speed to their advantage. A win for either team would put them in a good position for second place, but I can see the Czechs just edging this one. Home win. Continue reading
The Premier League kicks off tomorrow, and in preparation for the new season the TFN crew have taken to the BBC Premier League predictor to try guesstimate how the league table will look come May 2014…
With each entry completed by a different writer, with different methods and bias galore, we’re hoping the wisdom of the crowds will help us out to divine a more balanced final conclusion, even if our sample size is against us.
After reading through the tables and reasoning (or apologies) of each writer, scroll down to the end of the piece for a meta-table created using the average points collected by each club based on our individual predictions.
Our results may not be entirely accurate, or even intentional in some cases, but we at least hope they’re entertaining, and if you fancy having a go on the BBC predictor, feel free to send over your table to firstname.lastname@example.org to help inform our final results!
Without further ado, let the anomalies and prediction catastrophes commence… Continue reading