IT PROVED to be a weekend of mixed fortunes for Stoke City’s international stars . . . as they and their countries kicked off the Qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup.
Six Potters players were in action for their nations, as attentions turned towards the showpiece tournament, which takes place in Brazil in two years time.
The most dramatic action of the weekend came in Kazakhstan, as the Republic of Ireland bounced back from their disappointing European Championship’s by coming from behind to seal a 2-1 victory in their Group 3 opener.
Giovanni Trapattoni handed starts to both Glenn Whelan and Jonathan Walters in Astana, however, it looked to have been an evening of disappointment for the duo as their nation trailed going into the final few minutes of the encounter.
Skipper Robbie Keane looked to have saved Ireland’s blushes with a late spot-kick to draw the side level, moments before substitute Kevin Doyle denied the hosts of a famous result, by grabbing himself his 11th international goal with a last gasp winner.
Stoke defender Marc Wilson was an unused substitute in the clash, but he is expected to feature in Tuesday evening’s international friendly match against Oman, at Fulham’s Craven Cottage. Whelan and Walters meanwhile, have both returned to Stoke and will not feature in the game.
Elsewhere, Potters number one Asmir Begovic starred for his native Bosnia and Herzegovina against Liechtenstein, as they romped to an emphatic 8-1 victory in their Group 7 opener.
The City stopper was largely a spectator for the majority of the encounter, in which striking pair Vedad Ibisevic and Manchester City front-man Edin Dzeko both helped themselves to clinically taken hat-tricks.
That win sets them up perfectly for the forthcoming clash against Latvia on home soil, after they narrowly succumbed to defeat against Greece in their opening fixture.
It wasn’t quite so good a weekend for summer acquisitions Geoff Cameron and Maurice Edu however, as the United States suffered a blow in their qualifying campaign with a 2-1 defeat against Jamaica.
Clint Dempsey’s early strike looked to have laid the foundations for a routine US victory in the Caribbean, however, the Reggae Boys produced a sterling comeback to claim all three points, ahead of Tuesday’s return fixture in Columbus, Ohio.
Meanwhile, Charlie Adam became the Club’s first player to represent Scotland in over a Century on Saturday after Craig Levein handed him his 18th international cap in their goalless draw with Serbia at Hamden Park.
Whilst the result is far from a disaster, it does mean that this weeks home fixture against Macedonia is a must win fixture, given the fact that the Tartan Army take on Group 1 favourites Belgium and Croatia away from home in the next round of fixtures.
The match between Scotland and Macedonia will be screened live on Sky Sports 1 from 7:30pm on Tuesday evening, so why not tune in to catch the Club’s deadline day capture from Liverpool in action.
Finally, Wilson Palacios started for Honduras as they continued their impressive CONCACAF Qualifying campaign by registering a 3-0 victory against Cuba, in Havana. The two sides lock horns again on Tuesday.