Canadian Exports: Hart's men come through unscathed
National team coaches around the world always sweat the weekend before an international break, fearing an untimely injury.
For Canada’s Stephen Hart, who leads his team into a pair of must-win qualifiers vs. Cuba and at Honduras, his hand came up trumps as the roster he picked all survived unscathed.
Forward Olivier Occean (above) was the biggest concern, coming off an injury with club team Eintracht Frankfurt. But those fears were allayed as Occean played 90 minutes on Saturday in a 2-0 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach, Frankfurt’s first loss of the year. They’re nonetheless flying high in second place seven games into the Bundesliga season.
Elsewhere in Germany, Marcel de Jong comes into the Canadian camp on a high, having helped Augsburg beat Werder Bremen 3-1 to get out of the league basement.
Goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld had been hobbled by a bone bruise on his ankle, but recovered well in backstopping Vålerenga to a 1-1 draw with Strømgodset last Friday.
In England, Junior Hoilett looks to be headed for his second consecutive relegation battle, as Queens Park Rangers’ 3-2 loss to West Bromwich Albion kept the London side pinned to the bottom.
Down in the Championship, defender David Edgar put in 90 minutes’ work on Saturday for Burnley as they lost 4-3 to Crystal Palace.
In League One, forward Iain Hume looks to have worked his way into the Doncaster Rovers lineup as he played the whole game in their 1-0 win over Shrewsbury Town.
Also in League One, Marcus Haber’s time with Stevenage is going well as he played all 90 in their 1-0 win over Scunthorpe United. Stevenage are in second place and Hume’s Doncaster sit 10th.
Back across the North Sea, a good week for Atiba Hutchinson in the Netherlands as PSV Eindhoven head into the international break in good form.
Hutchinson played on Thursday as PSV beat Napoli 3-0 in the Europa League. They followed that up with a 4-0 win over NAC Breda and sit second place in the Eredivisie.
In Turkey, goalkeeper Milan Borjan gave up the most goals he’s conceded in a single game this season, but his team still salvaged a point as Sivasspor played Bursaspor to a 2-2 tie. Sivasspor are in fourth place, but just two points off the pace in the Turkish Süper Lig.
In Cyprus, midfielder Issey Nakajima-Farran continues to fight for top spot in the 1. Division standings as his side AEK Larnaca remain unbeaten, drawing Nea Salamis 0-0.
Up north in Sweden, there’s still a mathematical chance that Örebro, with goalkeeper Tomer Chencinski, could remain up, but it seems more and more unlikely.
Chencinski was in goal on Sunday as Örebro tied GIF Sundsvall 2-2. It was a missed opportunity for Örebro as they trail Sundsvall by nine points for 14th place in the Allsvenskan. Reaching 14th would mean at least a playoff to try to stay up, but with just four games remaining even that seems out of reach.
Lucas Cavallini has had his name mentioned in potentially getting more regular call-ups to the senior national team, and scoring goals in Uruguay’s Primera División will certainly help that argument. The youngster scored his second goal of the season on Sunday for Juventud de las Piedras as they beat Bella Vista 2-0. With the win, Juventud moved up to 10th.
For most of the season, forward Frank Jonke and his team Jaro looked destined to be relegated from the Finnish Veikkausliiga. Jonke played the hero, though, netting his sixth goal of the season on Sunday to give Jaro a huge 2-1 win over Lahti.
The win gave them a little breathing room over Nana Attakora and last-placed Haka. Attakora was replaced 42 minutes into Haka’s 1-1 draw with KuPS on Sunday and are now three points back of Jaro.
Mason Trafford’s Mariehamn, meanwhile, are just holding onto fourth place. Trafford once again played 90 minutes on Monday but Mariehamn lost 1-0 to leaders Inter Turku.
Just one point back of Mariehamn is Riley O’Neil’s MyPa, but they were only able to close the gap by a single point as they tied VPS 1-1 on Sunday.