How Fulham's International Players Fared During the Domestic Break for Their Respective Countries

The international break is finally coming a close, a brief period where for a select few Fulham players domestic matters are halted in order to focus on the challenges surrounding their respective national folds.


Besides dull, meaningless friendly matches, World Cup qualification encounters were also apparent for members of the Whites' somewhat struggling fold. 


Here's how the relevant contingent fared in their country's colours, with Derby County's visit to south-west London being on the horizon as the Championship schedule resumes on Saturday at Craven Cottage.

1. Oliver Norwood - Northern Ireland

Oliver Norwood featured in the middle of the park for Northern Ireland in his nation's 1-0 first-leg World Cup qualification defeat against Switzerland at Windsor Park on November 9th, and if it wasn't for a dubious penalty being awarded to the Swiss, perhaps Norwood's chances of reaching a World Cup tournament would have stood on firmer ground.


The second-leg was a goalless draw in Switzerland, however Norwood and co. were condemned to a loss on aggregate due to Ricardo Rodriguez's pivotal and controversial spot-kick, meaning that ultimately he'll be watching the finals from his sofa, with his passport stowed away at the back of the dresser for another long summer without football.

2. Neeskens Kebano - DR Congo

DR Congo's and Neeskens Kebano's World Cup dreams were agonisingly scuppered by Tunisia on Saturday, despite 'The Leopards' 3-1 victory against Guinea, which was also played on Saturday. Scoring in the 93rd minute, Kebano offered everything he could possibly muster towards his country's futile push for progression.


Before the final group encounters, Tunisia were leading the Group A standings by three points so a win or a draw was imperative - Tunisia drew 0-0 against Libya, meaning that they qualified for the 2018 World Cup by just one solitary point, leaving DR Congo's plane to the tournament grounded indefinitely. 

3. Tomas Kalas - Czech Republic

Tomas Kalas was left out of proceedings during Czech Republic's first friendly of the break against Iceland, a tie which ended 2-1 in his nation's favour in an international exhibition at Qatar's Abdullah bin Khalifa Stadium on November 8th.


However Kalas did play the full 90 minutes in Czech Republic's second friendly encounter against host nation Qatar on Saturday, a 1-0 victory for the Europeans which was indeed accompanied by a clean sheet, a welcome complement to Kalas' presence at the centre of the defensive four.

4. Tim Ream - USA

Ream, a partner of Kalas of course, had a point to prove himself when the USMNT faces Portugal, the reigning European champions Portugal. America took the lead against Portugal through Weston McKennie, although their lead was clawed back by Vitorino Antunes, who made it 1-1 just ten minutes later - it stayed that way until the very last blast from the referee. 


Ream never made it off of the substitutes bench, however, meaning that he ultimately wasn't given the opportunity to redeem himself as a trusted option in the defensive third. Perhaps on Saturday he'll be able to showcase his worth to Fulham's faithful down by the river, though.

5. Floyd Ayite - Togo

Togo ran out 6-0 winners against Mauritius, a scintillating scalp where Floyd Ayite manned the left flank for 70 minutes, a margin of victory which will surely fill the faltering winger with a great deal of confidence and spirit after a hapless performance against Wolverhampton Wanderers.


Winning is contagious and if there's one thing that Fulham ultimately need at present it's a string of triumphs to catapult them up the standings - Slavisa Jokanovic will be hoping that Ayite returns to south-west London with a rejuvenated attitude to battling for the three points, no matter how easy Togo's latest win was.  

6. Ryan Sessegnon - England U19s

6-0, 2-1 and 1-0 wins against the Faroe Islands and Iceland and Bulgaria's U19 set-ups got England's 'Young-Lions' off to a perfect start in their U19 European Championship qualification campaign, a trio of tests where Ryan Sessegnon played a vital part as ever.


With the weight of expectation on his teenage shoulders, Sess' will be vying to make amends once league football ambles onward, as he beholds the key to unlocking opposing strategies to his own team's benefit along the left channel, whilst being included in England's ranks once more is a measure of his growing, lauded quality.


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