For some the job’s been done, for others it’s too late but for Gylfi Sigurdsson, Hugo Lloris and Vlad Chiriches it’s their last chance to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. The three Tottenham players know that their countries are facing two tough play-off matches in the coming week which will determine whether Iceland, France and Romania will be included in the World Cup draw.
RomaniaFor Vlad Chiriches, the situation is even more difficult as he is unable to take any part in the two matches. He has had to withdraw from the Romania squad due to the facial injury he picked up just before half-time in last Sunday’s defeat by Newcastle at White Hart Lane. As he was led off the field with blood pouring from his nose it was thought that he would return after the interval. He didn’t appear for the second half and has been forced to withdraw with a broken nose meaning he will be unable to captain the Romanian side in the two games against Greece.
Chiriches had led the Romania side to second place in Group D behind the Netherlands. It had been a three way battle for the runners-up spot with Turkey and Hungary but Romania won their final two games to make it into the play-offs. They travel to play Greece in Athens on Friday with the return game on Tuesday.
IcelandGylfi Sigurdsson has made a major contribution to Iceland’s progress to the play-offs. Iceland finished second behind Switzerland and earned a draw in Norway in the final group game be sure of a play-off place.
Iceland have never reached a major finals and if they qualify for Brazil, with a population of only 300,000 they would be the smallest nation to have qualified for the finals of the World Cup. in the Iceland squad is Eidur Gudjohnsen who was on loan with Spurs in 2010 and made 14 appearances, scoring 3 goals. The 35-year-old is now with Club Brugge in Belgium.
Iceland face Croatia who have four former Tottenham players in their squad in Reykjavik on Friday. Croatia had a disappointing end to the qualification matches picking up only 1 point from their last four matches. They lost to Scotland both home and away and lost in Zagreb to the group winners, Belgium. They have changed their manager and Iceland will be hoping that they can bebefit fron this dip in form from Croatia.
FranceHugo Lloris will be hoping that he will be passed fit to lead France in their two matches against Ukraine. France travel to Kiev for the 1st leg with the return in Paris. France finished second to Spain and will need Lloris to be fully fit after the knock he took against Everton. He was left out of the Tottenham team against Newcastle on Sunday as a precaution but with the extra five days to recuperate, France will be expecting to have him available for selection.
For the players whose countries have qualified they will be looking to impress their national coaches to ensure they are included in the squads for the Finals. England, Belgium, Brazil and Argentina are all playing two friendly matches in the next week as their preparations for Brazil start.
Danish Player of The YearFor Denmark and Christian Eriksen, missing the play-offs was a great disappointment. They finished runners-up to Italy but as the 9th ranked team among the second placed countries they were omitted from the play-off draw.
The Danish Football Association named Eriksen as the Danish Football Player of the Year for 2013. He also won the award in 2011.