Canadian Exports: Occean, Frankfurt maintain UCL push

Olivier Occean

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Olivier Occéan and Eintracht Frankfurt are going strong in their push for a UEFA Champions League qualification spot, as they have now strung together back-to-back wins in the Bundesliga.

Occéan (above) played 87 minutes this past Saturday as Frankfurt beat Wolfsburg 2-0 and are in fourth place, tied on points with third-place Borussia Dortmund but with an inferior goal difference. Frankfurt hold a four-point cushion over fifth-place Freiburg.

Should Frankfurt stay in the top four through the end of the season, it will be their first apperance in Europe's top competition since they reached the European Cup final in 1960.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga, Marcel de Jong and Augsburg had a couple games to forget, as a 1-1 draw with fellow strugglers Greuther Fürth kept the two teams rooted to the bottom of the table with de Jong watching from the stands. It didn't get much better from there as de Jong had to watch again, this time from the bench, as Augsburg were dropped from the German Cup by giants Bayern Munich.

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In the 2.Bundesliga, Kevin McKenna and FC Köln are slowly getting back into the promotion picture after a very slow start to their first season since being relegated from Germany’s top flight.

Köln are unbeaten in seven games after playing Sanhausen to a scoreless draw with McKenna playing the full 90 minutes in defense as his team is six points back of a promotion spot. The Billy Goats have one more game in 2012, a German Cup, match, before their one-month winter break.

In Turkey, the holidays can’t come soon enough for goalkeeper Milan Borjan and Sivasspor. Playing in their second-to-last game before the Süper Lig winter break, Sivasspor dropped their third straight league game and have just one win in their last five games.

Borjan was in goal on Sunday as Sivasspor dropped a 1-0 game to Karabukspor. The result knocked them down to 12th place in the 18-team league but they are still alive in the Turkish Cup tournament, which will keep the team active during the league break.

In the Netherlands, Atiba Hutchinson and club team PSV Eindhoven are no longer alone in first place in the Eredivisie after this past weekend’s action.

PSV’s 1-1 draw with NEC on Saturday – with Hutchinson playing the full 90 – combined with FC Twente’s 3-2 win over Heracles means the two teams are tied with 37 points after 17 games, although PSV are on top by virtue of a better goal difference. The two teams hold just a one-point lead over Ajax in a very tight table.

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In England, David Edgar has seen his time on the pitch with Burnley diminish in the last few months. The defender made a rare 90-minute performance this past Saturday as Burnley picked up a point at home with a 1-1 draw with Watford. Edgar and Burnley currently sit in 16th place in the Championship.

Down in League One, forward Iain Hume’s Doncaster Rovers slipped out of their first place tie but are still just a point out of top spot.

In a very congested table, Doncaster lost 4-1 to Coventry City and remain on 40 points. They have the same amount of points as Sheffield United and are just a point back of league-leading Brentford and Tranmere Rovers.

Marcus Haber’s Stevenage are hanging in the promotion picture despite losing 2-1 to Crawley Town.

Haber played 81 minutes in the loss, which meant that Stevenage are hangiing onto the final promotion playoff position in sixth place and sit just four points back of top spot in what is shaping up to be an exciting fight for promotion in the second half of the season.

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Up in the Premier League, Simeon Jackson again watched from the bench as Norwich topped Wigan 2-1.

In Portugal, four wins in five games have propelled Pedro Pacheco and Santa Clara to within nine points of the promotion spots in the second-flight Liga de Honra. Pacheco played 89 minutes on Sunday as Santa Clara beat Penafiel 2-0. Santa Clara have 28 points in 18 games and sit in sixth place.

In Cyprus, Mike Klukowski did not dress as APEOL got back on track with a 1-0 win over Enosis to keep a firm grasp on second. It was a similar story for Issey Nakajima-Farran, who watched from the stands as AEK Larnaca topped Alki and remained in third place.