There’s plenty of international football to look forward to on Friday, so here’s a selection of games not to be missed from Euro 2024 qualifying, CAF World Cup qualifying, Copa América play-offs, International friendlies and more.
Euro 2024 qualifying
England vs Malta, Italy vs North Macedonia, Poland vs Czechia, Denmark vs Slovenia, Finland vs Northern Ireland & more
At Wembley, England will be looking to continue their unbeaten record in Euros qualifying, taking on Malta, a side who are rock bottom of Group C, yet to pick up a point.
The Three Lions left Ta’ Qali 4-0 winners in June, with an even more emphatic victory expected this time.
While there’s very little on the line in North London, the same cannot be said of the section’s other clash at Stadio Olimpico.
Defending champions Italy are far from assured of a place at the Euros, kicking off in third place, three points below Ukraine with a game in hand.
Those two clash at BayArena on Monday, with Gli Azzurri knowing that victory in Rome tonight would be a massive boost, as they’d then only require a point from their matchday ten clash to qualify.
However, fans a very nervous, given that their opponents in the Eternal City are North Macedonia, the side that defeated Italy in last year’s World Cup play-offs, thereby denying them a place in Qatar.
Luciano Spalletti’s side should be too strong, but Blagoja Milevski’s team will certainly believe an upset is possible.
Elsewhere, Albania are currently the surprise leaders of Group E, with Sylvinho’s side knowing that just a point in Chișinău against Moldova will see the Red and Blacks qualify for just a second Euros with a game to spare.
This leaves Poland and Czechia fighting for the other automatic qualification spot, with the pair set to get head-to-head at Stadion Narodowy.
The hosts must win in Warsaw to keep alive their slim hopes of a top two finish, while just a draw will maintain the Czech’s record of having qualified for all eight European Championships since independence.
Even if Jaroslav Šilhavý's team do leave defeated, they’ll get a second chance to qualify, welcoming Moldova to Andrův stadion on Monday, but could get the job done before then.
Lastly, to Group H, where the top two, who both kick off on 19 points, go head-to-head at Parken.
Victory for either Denmark of Slovenia in Copenhagen will secure their passage to the European Championships, with Kasper Hjulmand’s team hopeful of making home advantage count.
Should they do so, and Kazakhstan beat pointless San Marino in an earlier kick off, this would set up a winner takes all showdown between Slovenia and the Kazakhs in Ljubljana on matchday ten.
Finland, who are guaranteed a spot in the play-offs, will be looking to beat already eliminated Northern Ireland at the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, just as they did in Belfast back in March.
1) England HT/FT & over 4.5 goals. 2) Italy vs N Macedonia- over 2.5 goals. 3) Poland vs Czechia- under 2.5 goals. 4) Denmark to win. 5) Finland to win. 6) Albania to win. 7) Kazakhstan to win to nil.
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Euro 2024 qualifying
November 17, 2023
2:00 pm GMT
CAF World Cup qualifying
Ghana vs Madagascar, Cameroon vs Mauritius, Côte d’Ivoire vs Seychelles, Tunisia vs São Tomé and Príncipe & more
A further 11 African World Cup qualifiers are taking place on Friday, with some of the continent’s heavyweights beginning their roads to USA, Mexico and Canada.
Côte d’Ivoire have failed to qualify for either of the last two World Cups, despite appearing at three in a row beforehand.
Nevertheless, les Éléphants are firm favourites to top Group F, likely to swat Seychelles aside at Stade Olympique d’Ebimpé.
Over in Group I, Ghana and Mali will be fighting it out for the sole automatic qualification spot, making every point vital.
Both are expected to claim victory on matchday one, with the Black Stars taking on Madagascar, while the Eagles welcome Chad to Bàmakɔ̌.
No African nation has appeared at more World Cups than Cameroon, but they could face stiff competition from Cape Verde to finish first in Group D.
Les Lions Indomptables entertaining Mauritius at Stade de Japoma, needing to collect maximum points.
Lastly, Radès is also likely to witness a comfortable home win, with minnows São Tomé and Príncipe seeking to cause a massive upset against World Cup regulars Tunisia.
1) Cameroon HT/FT. 2) Tunisia HT/FT. 3) Côte d'Ivoire to win to nil. 4) Ghana to win to nil. 5) Burkina Faso to win. 6) Mali to win. 7) Zambia to win.
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CAF World Cup qualification
November 17, 2023
4:00 pm GMT
CONCACAF Nations League/ Copa América play-offs
Jamaica vs Canada & Honduras vs Mexico
Over in the CONCACAF region, the Nations League quarter-final first legs continue, with these ties, of course, also doubling up as Copa América play-offs, meaning there is plenty to play for.
Mexico competed at all ten Copa Américas between 1993 and 2016, with the 2026 World Cup co-hosts now desperate to be at next summer’s edition too, firm favourites to achieve this.
Jaime Lozano’s team won the Gold Cup over the summer, a triumph that earned him the Head Coach role permanently, enjoying a credible 2-2 friendly draw with Germany last time out.
Now though, el Tri are back in competitive action in Tegucigalpa, hoping to leave with a positive result ahead of the second leg at Estadio Azteca on Monday.
Honduras meantime know they need to make home advantage count at Estadio Nacional Chelato Uclés if they’re to have any chance of causing an upset, or they’ll have to settle for a place in March’s play-in games.
La H have won only five of their last 27 competitive games, losing each of their last four encounters with Mexico without scoring, so an away win is likely to be on the cards.
A tie that’s significantly tougher to call sees two nations on the rise go head-to-head in Kingston.
Canada ended their 36-year World Cup exile this time last year, but lost all three matches in Qatar, scoring just two goals.
Since then, manager John Herdman has left to take over as TFC Head Coach, with Mauro Biello still in interim charge for this huge game.
Les Rouges, for so many reasons, need to make their Copa América debut next summer, but progression through this tie will be far from easy.
Jamaica meantime are aiming to appear at a third Copa, after 2015 and 2016, ultimately dreaming of featuring at a first World Cup since France ‘98 come the end of this cycle.
The Reggae Boyz enjoyed victories over Honduras, Grenada and Haiti to get this far, with Heimir Hallgrímsson’s team seeking a home win here, ahead of the return leg in Toronto on Monday.
Greece vs New Zealand
In Friday night’s sole international friendly, New Zealand’s mini-European tour takes them to Athens.
Last month, the All Whites held DR Congo to a 1-1 draw in Murcia, Chris Wood converting a stoppage time penalty, before a 2-0 defeat to Australia in the Soccer Ashes at the Brentford Community Stadium.
Darren Bazeley’s team are in friendly limbo right now, given that their next competitive fixtures will be at next summer’s OFC Nations Cup, before Oceanic World Cup qualifying commences in October.
This month, New Zealand will also be in Dublin on Tuesday, rank-outsiders to get a result in either of their friendlies.
Here, hosts Greece saw their hopes of automatic Euro qualification all but come to an end last time out, defeated 1-0 by Netherlands, conceding a 93rd minute penalty.
Gus Poyet’s team welcome France to Agia Sophia Stadium on Tuesday, but the Sky Blues and Whites are already preparing for March’s play-offs.
Right now, they’re set to host Kazakhstan in the semi-finals, before meeting either Georgia or Luxembourg in the final, so qualification for a first tournament in ten years is well within their grasp.
In this friendly at Georgios Kamaras Stadium a routine home win seems likely.