Let us begin with a trip south (way south) to the sunny climes of The Nile Valley, where Hope Akpan will be aiming to get his international career off to a flyer in a desperate Nigeria side. With two games to go in the African Cup of Nations Qualifying Group A, the Super Eagles find themselves 3rd on 1 point, with Congo (6 pts) and South Africa (4) leading the way. Luckily for Hope, it'll be two games against lowly Sudan that can allow the reigning champions to, at least, reach January's showpiece in Morocco.
But, of course Hope may not make it. Nigel Adkins was less than positive about the midfielders chances with a recent injury, but here's hoping the 23-year-old will catch a break. His strong form of late has seen him labelled 'A New Hope' By AllAfrica.com, and one of the Top 5 Players To Watch in the upcoming qualifiers by Bleacher Report- although others have slated the experimental nature of such an important squad. With that in mind, and the fact he's keeping out promising Almeria midfielder Ramon Azeez, we may well be waving goodbye to Akpan for the African Nations Tournament in January... But, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Let's now take the short hop from Sultry Sudan to the Arabian Peninsula- where this week Adam Federici will don his Yellow'n'Green for two friendlies. Coming up against UAE and 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar, the Socceroos will look to utilise their refreshed squad, hopefully seeing the recalled Feds in action. He'll be in the squad with eternal-Dortmund-benchwarmer- and long time Internationals Report favourite- Mitchell Langerak, along with Mathew Ryan of Club Brugge. It may also be worth pointing out that the Aussies play in the 2015 Asian Cup in January, which is making that bridge in the distance sound pretty big.
While thinking of a relevant link between Qatar and Republic of Ireland, it's worth noting that Alex Pearce is in the Green Army squad for the home match against Gibraltar, before the not-at-all-daunting trip to face Germany in Gelsenkirchen. Martin O'Neill will have his work cut out to keep Pearcey upright on the slippy green field of the Aviva Stadium, Dublin- but it could work in the Oxford-born player's favour that the Veltins Arena has the option of a retractable roof!
Stephen Kelly misses out with injury, and Pearce will have to compete with Premiership-quality defenders (allegedly) in Ciaran Clark, John O'Shea and Marc Wilson, for a starting spot. While on the topic of missing out, Pavel Pogrebnyak was shunned by the Russia squad for qualifiers against Sweden and Moldova, Danny Williams is obviously injured for the USA, and the once-joyous task of finding Jamaica highlights has been halted by injuries to Shaun Cummings and Garath McCleary.
Stepping over The Irish Sea, it's good news as Jake Taylor, Chris Gunter and Hal Robson-Kanu have all, once again, been called up to the Wales squad for two key qualifiers. Chris Coleman's team face Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cyprus as they look to hold onto top-spot in Group B, having edged Andorra 2-1 in September.
Both of those games take place in Cardiff City Stadium, which neatly brings us full circle, back to just a few miles from this writer's house.
Stay tuned at TTE for all the senior and youth international news during this upcoming internationals break!