Ten Rothosen called up for international duty
The second international break of the season is upon us and ten Rothosen have been called up to represent their countries. Five Europeans and US national, Bobby Wood, will be fighting for those coveted World Cup spots while HSV will also be represented in youth teams.
Albin Ekdal (Sweden), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (Greece), Mergim Mavraj (Albania), Filip Kostic (Serbia), Sejad Salihovic (Bosnia Herzegovina), Bobby Wood (USA) and Gotoku Sakai (Japan), as well as youngsters Vasilije Janjicic (Switzerland U20s), Luca Waldschmidt (Germany U21s), Fiete Arp (Germany U17s) are all in international action. For the senior players, these next couple of games will prove decisive in their bid to reach the World Cup finals. Fiete Arp, the first player born in the year 200 to make a Bundesliga appearance, is the only HSV player to be contesting an actual competition. He is playing in the U17 World Cup in India.
Ticket sealed or playoffs?
Albin Ekdal’s Sweden, placed second in Group A, come up against Luxemburg on October 7th before their crunch match against third-placed, Holland. Sweden are three points ahead of the Netherlands on 16, but crucially, are also six goals to the good, so automatic qualification is likely. France are top of Group A on 17 points.
Filip Kostic’s Serbia lie top of their group on 18 points, four ahead of second-ranked Wales. One win from either of their two matches against Austria on October 6th or against Georgia on the 9th will seal their World Cup place, as Wales and third-placed Ireland are also set to play each other in the international break.
Two Rothosen are involved in an indirect playoff battle in Group H. Sejad Salihovic, who was called up by Bosnia Herzegovina for the first time in two years, plays top-of-the-table Belgium before travelling to Estonia, who are bottom. Papadopoulos and Greece host Cyprus on October 7th before their final game against Gibraltar on October 10th. Greece are one point and five goals behind the Bosnians.
Mergim Mavraj is the only HSV player to have no chance of making the World Cup. Albania play Spain and Italy, who are first and second in the table, but are six points and eleven goals behind Italy.
Endgame for Wood, friendlies for Sakai
It’s make-or-break for Bobby Wood and fourth-placed USA in this international break. The US meet third-placed Panama, who are one point ahead in the CONCACAF qualifying group. Beat them and the US could guarantee their Russia 2018 place against bottom of the group, Trinidad and Tobago. “It’s in our own hands and we’ll try everything we can to get our place,” said Wood.
Things are a lot less dramatic for HSV captain, Gotoku Sakai. Japan have already qualified for the World Cup and are playing in friendlies against New Zealand and Haiti. It will be a good opportunity for the versatile defender to prove his worth to the national side.
Arp at the U17s World Cup
Fiete Arp, Luca Waldschmidt and Vasilije Janjicic will be representing their national sides at the youth level. Arp, who made his debut for HSV against Bremen, is travelling to India via Frankfurt and Qatar. Germany’s first game in the U17s World Cup is against Costa Rica; Iran and Guinea are the other two group members. “There are no favourites in youth football. The group stages are going to be a challenge and we want to do as well as we can,” said Arp before his departure.
Luca Waldschmidt and the Germany U21s have two matches against Azerbaijan and Norway on the road to the U21 European Championship in Italy and San Marino. Vasilije Janjicic, meanwhile, will represent Switzerland U20s in their matches against Portugal and Germany.