It’s been a busy period for Wigan Athletic’s international players, taking part in qualification matches and friendly matches at senior and Under-21 level.
Nine players in total from the Club have been absent over the past week playing matches all over the world, some making landmark appearances for their country, some scoring crucial goals and two going head to head at Craven Cottage.
First to the World Cup Qualification matches and to Hampden Park, where Scotland played their first two group matches but couldn’t pick up a first win.
Latics skipper Gary Caldwell was named captain as he made his 50th appearance for his country in their match against Serbia which ended in a 0-0 draw. The 30-year-old wore the armband again on Tuesday night in a 1-1 draw with Macedonia in which Shaun Maloney also completed the 90 minutes.
Meanwhile, in Cordoba, Antolin Alcaraz played 90 minutes couldn’t help Paraguay overcome Lionel Messi and Argentina in a 3-1 defeat despite his fantastic defensive performance. In Asuncion on Tuesday, the 30-year-old completed 69 minutes against Venezuela in another defeat, going down 2-0 this time and picking up a yellow card in the process.
There were happier experiences for Maynor Figueroa who had a double-header against Cuba to look forward to in Honduras’ bid for World Cup qualification. He played 90 minutes in both games which his side won 3-0 (in Havana) and 1-0 in San Pedro.
James McCarthy was handed his very first start for the Republic of Ireland in their World Cup qualifier against Kazakhstan, helping his side to a 2-1 win and playing the full match. On Tuesday night he faced Ali Al Habsi at Craven Cottage in a friendly match between Giovanni Trapattoni’s side and Oman.
Both Latics players played the full 90 minutes in a 4-1 win for McCarthy’s team.
Arouna Kone was in action for Ivory Coast in their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Senegal in Abidjan, coming off the bench for the final 15 minutes and helping his side see out a 4-2 victory.
Finally to Latics’ young stars who had mixed feelings for their national sides. Rob Kiernan twice captained Republic of Ireland Under-21s in their bid to qualify for next year’s European Under-21 Championships in Israel, but consecutive defeats to Turkey and Hungary put paid to their hopes of making the competition.
By contrast, Slovakia Under-21 international Filip Orsula scored twice for his country as they won both qualification matches over the past week. Coming off the bench against France for the final half-hour he hit the winning goal in a 2-1 result, before contributing towards a 6-0 rout of Kazakhstan, again coming off the bench for the second half.