Wolves defender Willy Boly secured Ivory Coast’s place in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with his first international goal in just his fourth appearance for the national team.
The former French youth international, who switched allegiances to Ivory Coast last year, got off the mark just three minutes into the match against Ethiopia, scoring a towering header to put his team 1-0 up.
Ivory Coast eventually ran out 3-1 winners in their final AFCON qualifying group stage match, with Boly and his teammates topping the Group K table, with the Wolves centre-back yet to taste defeat at international level, with three wins and a draw in his four qualifying fixtures.
Romain Saiss will also be competing in the next Africa Cup of Nations having captained Morocco to the top of qualifying Group E.
Playing in his usual international role as the left centre-back in a four-man defence, Saiss earned another clean sheet, his team’s third in a row, to beat Burundi 1-0 in their final qualifying match.
This means, if selected, Wolves will be without two of their defensive pieces for the duration of the 2021 AFCON tournament, which will take place in January and February 2022, having been moved from this summer due to Covid-19.
In 2022 World Cup qualifying, Wolves had several first-team stars in action over the last couple of days, including a staring role for Pedro Neto.
Having only seen Ruben Neves out of Wolves’ trio of Portuguese start the qualifying match against Luxembourg, with Joao Moutinho having not recovered from a slight injury, it was Neto who came off the bench when his country were 1-0 down to the minnows, and turn the game on its head.
The winger was in the thick of the action just minutes after replacing Joao Felix, whipping in a dangerous right-footed cross onto the head of former club teammate Diogo Jota, which the Liverpool forward finished off.
After Cristiano Ronaldo had put Portugal ahead, the Wolves man set up in second of the evening, swinging a corner directly on to the head of Joao Palhinha, who found the corner of the net. The win left Portugal joint top of Group A with Serbia following their opening three matches.
Pedro Neto trying to escape from an obsessed fan.— Wolves (@Wolves) March 31, 2021
Although Conor Coady was an unused substitute for England in their final qualifying match of the March break, as the Three Lions narrowly overcame Poland to make it three wins from three, Leander Dendoncker made his third appearance for Belgium, coming off the bench in place of former Spurs defender Jan Vertonghen.
With the Red Devils already 5-0 up against Belarus when Dendoncker slipped into Belgium’s back three, something he’s been more than familiar doing with Wolves this season, he helped his team secure the clean sheet as an eight-goal victory put his side clear at the top of Group E.
Theo Corbeanu was also in World Cup qualifying action for Canada and made his full international debut by playing the opening 61 minutes in a 11-0 win over the Cayman Islands.
Although he was unable to match his first appearance, where he scored four minutes after coming off the bench, the under-23 winger was heavily involved in the action, striking the crossbar early on being a terrorising threat to his opposition, as his pace and trickery took players out of the game which left space for his teammates to exploit on the scoresheet.
Canada are joint top of the Group B table, but well clear of Suriname on goal difference going into the next round of qualifying fixtures.
In junior action, Vitinha was once again the man of the moment as he guided Portugal under-21s into the knockout stages of the UEFA European U21 championships.
Having been named as one of the best players in the opening two matches against Croatia and England, the midfielder continued his impressive international form to set his team on their way to a 3-0 win over Switzerland, after setting up Diogo Queiros with the opening goal just three minutes in.
Portugal’s victory saw them cruise through to the quarter-finals with three wins from three, with the knockout games set to be played in late May and early June.
Wolves internationals March fixtures & results
Moutinho, Neves, Neto (Portugal): FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers
- Wednesday 24th March | 1-0 vs Azerbaijan
- Saturday 27th March | 2-2 vs Serbia
- Tuesday 30th March | 3-1 vs Luxembourg
Coady (England): FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers
- Thursday 25th March | 5-0 vs San Marino
- Sunday 28th March | 2-0 vs Albania
- Wednesday 31st March | 2-1 vs Poland
Dendoncker (Belgium): FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers
- Wednesday 24th March | 3-1 vs Wales
- Saturday 27th March | 1-1 vs Czech Republic
- Tuesday 30th March | 8-0 vs Belarus
Saiss (Morocco): Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers
- Friday 26th March | 0-0 vs Mauritania
- Tuesday 30th March | 1-0 vs Burundi
Boly (Ivory Coast): Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers
- Friday 26th March | 3-0 vs Niger
- Tuesday 30th March | 3-1 vs Ethiopia
Otasowie (USA): Friendlies
- Thursday 25th March | 4-1 vs Jamaica
- Sunday 28th March | 2-1 vs Northern Ireland
Vitinha (Portugal U21): UEFA Euro U21 group stages
- Thursday 25th March | 1-0 vs Croatia
- Sunday 28th March | 2-0 vs England
- Wednesday 31st March | 3-0 vs Switzerland
Corbeanu (Canada): FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers
- Friday 26th March | 5-1 vs Bermuda
- Monday 29th March | 11-0 vs Cayman Islands
Richards (Ireland U21): Friendly
- Friday 26th March | 2-1 vs Wales