Raul Jimenez and Mexico are just one point away from securing their spot at the 2022 World Cup following victory over Honduras on Monday morning.
The Mexican was one of six Wolves players in international action for their countries on during the weekend, with most of those in friendly fixtures having either already reached Qatar or are out of the running for a place in this winter’s competition.
But with World Cup qualification on the line for both Jimenez and Morocco captain Romain Saiss, wolves.co.uk rounds up the action which took place during the past few days involving Bruno Lage’s players.
Raul Jimenez | Honduras 0-1 Mexico
In the early hours of Monday morning, Raul Jimenez was in action for Mexico as they took a giant leap into booking their place on the plane to Qatar. Following Thursday’s disappointing draw with the USA, Mexico knew nothing other than a win would suffice against a Honduras side sitting rock bottom of the CONCACAF qualifying table. The Wolves number nine led the line for his country once again but El Tri struggled to get themselves going in the first-half. However, they got the breakthrough they needed with 20 minutes remaining on the clock when Hector Herrera’s corner to the near post narrowly missed the diving head of Jimenez, but was flicked over the Honduras keeper by Edson Alvarez, who was lurking behind the Wolves forward. Jimenez came close with a header of his own minutes later, but the ball fell the wrong side of the post, before being substituted in the 81st minute. Mexico held on to the three points, which means they need just a draw from their final qualification clash with El Salvador on Thursday morning (2.05am kick-off) to reach the 2022 World Cup finals.
Romain Saiss | DR Congo 1-1 Morocco
Another man with World Cup qualification on the line this week is Romain Saiss. The captain of Morocco led out his team on Friday afternoon for the first leg of their CAF qualification play-off with DR Congo. Playing the ‘Conor Coady role’ in the centre of Morocco’s back three, Saiss’ men had a rocky start to the contest, as Brentford winger Yoane Wissa was able to find the back of the net with just 12 minutes on the clock for DR Congo, with his effort on goal deflecting off the Wolves defender and wrong-footing Morocco keeper Bono. Morocco had the chance to equalise just after the break, but Ryan Mmaee fired his shot over the crossbar, but 20 minutes later Tarik Tissoudali got the Atlas Lions on level terms, while DR Congo’s Ngonda Muzinga will be missing for the second leg on Tuesday (8.30pm) having been sent off for a second yellow card.
Conor Coady | England 2-1 Switzerland
England played the first of their two March friendlies on Saturday afternoon as they faced Switzerland at Wembley, and Wolves captain Conor Coady felt right at home in the centre of the Three Lions’ defence. There was nothing the defender could have done to stop Switzerland from taking the lead after just 22 minutes when Breel Embolo was picked out in the penalty area by Xherdan Shaqiri and leapt above Ben White to head beyond Jordan Pickford. England got back into the game through Luke Shaw before Harry Kane’s penalty secured the comeback win. Coady played the full 90 minutes at the weekend, and with another friendly against Ivory Coast to come on Tuesday (7.45pm) we might not see the gold and black skipper have the chance to take on club teammate Willy Boly.
Willy Boly | France 2-1 Ivory Coast
Speaking of Boly, he also played the whole 90 minutes on Friday as Ivory Coast came unstuck against France – the country of his birth. Having represented France at youth level, the Wolves defender recently switched his international allegiances to Ivory Coast, but he was unable to help the team reach Qatar, meaning they faced a pair of friendlies this week. Boly was solid at the back for his country, although he lost the run of former Arsenal man Olivier Giroud for France’s equaliser after current Gunner Nicolas Pepe put Ivory Coast ahead. Boly will be hoping to be back in action on Tuesday for their fixture against England at Wembley.
Leander Dendoncker | Ireland 2-2 Belgium
Moving into the Wolves midfield and Leander Dendoncker was also in friendly action as Belgium travelled to Dublin to take on the Republic of Ireland. Dendoncker was a really positive influence in his side’s showing, with Belgium taking the lead in early on through Michy Batshuayi, while there was not much he could have done to deny Ireland from scoring their two efforts. Belgium are back on the pitch on Tuesday (7.45pm) as they face Burkina Faso in Brussels.
Fabio Silva was an unused substitute for Portugal under-21s as their 100 per cent record in Euro U21 Championship qualifying came to an end with a 1-1 draw against Iceland. Portugal fell behind on 17 minutes, before hitting back less than 20 minutes later, to take the point. Although looking for a goal, Silva remained on the bench for the whole match, so the striker will be hoping to be part of the team when they face Greece in another qualifier on Tuesday (5pm). Fellow Wolves man Morgan Gibbs-White – currently on loan at Sheffield United – is also in Euro U21 qualifying this week but for England, and the midfielder found the back of the net in the Young Lions’ 4-1 win at Andorra. They are back on Tuesday (7.45pm) and face Albania on the road.
Almost the entire Wolves international contingent are next in action on Tuesday, including a crucial World Cup play-off final for Joao Moutinho and Jose Sa as Portugal host North Macedonia from 7.45pm with the winner making it to Qatar, while Hee Chan Hwang and South Korea travel to UAE for their final qualifying clash (2.45pm) having already secured their spot in this winter’s competition.