- A memorable 2019 in store for African, Concacaf debutants
- Open race forming for Copa America
- Three Lions in fine goalscoring form
After a week packed with national team action that wrapped around the globe, there was plenty of excitement to get your teeth into.
With continental qualifiers in Europe, Africa and the Concacaf region, while there’s plenty of tournament football on the horizon to prepare for, it was a week with much at stake. We picked out five things that caught the eye.
History awaits for African, Concacaf nations
With the conclusion of qualifying for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and Concacaf Gold Cup, we did not just get a tantalising look at what is in store for a packed June and July of international football. The first chapters of some memorable stories were also written as debutants and long-time absentees from those competitions get set to take to the stage.
In Africa, we are set to have the joint-most first-timers on show for almost 50 years as Burundi, Mauritania and Mauritius all set sail for Egypt, while Tanzania are back from a 39-year exile. Meanwhile, Bermuda and Guyana delighted their fans by lining up a first ever Gold Cup trip.
England on fire
Not a single member of the current England squad were born, while manager Gareth Southgate was yet to celebrate his 14th birthday, the last time the Three Lions scored five or more in back-to-back games (in 1984). Hitting five against second and third seeds in their UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying group has given them the perfect start to proceedings. This hot start to continental qualifying comes swiftly after Southgate's side reached the latter stages of the FIFA World Cup™ and UEFA Nations League - creating a swell of momentum for the Three Lions.
Raheem Sterling's four goals across their 5-0 and 5-1 victories, coupled with braces for Harry Kane and Ross Barkley has them full of positivity heading into the Nations League finals in June.
Stumbles for Copa America contenders
Judging on the last week of action, the race for the Copa America is wide open. Brazil stuttered against Panama and the Czech Republic, neither Chile or Colombia impressed, while Argentina laboured to a win over Morocco and lost convincingly to Venezuela.
Uruguay coasted to lift the China Cup, but could it be La Vinotinto’s year to impress? Five of the Venezuela side who saw La Albiceleste on Lionel Messi's return to national team action were part of their side that took them to the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Korea Republic 2017. A special generation in the making?
Italy blending old with the new
It was a week for Gli Azzurri that displayed the shifting of generations within the side. As Moise Kean marked his debut with a goal – becoming their youngest goalscorer since 1958 and youngest starter since 1912 – Fabio Quagliarella became their oldest ever scorer three days later.
Kean wasn’t even three months old when Quagliarella made his professional debut, with the pair sharing the scoresheet on Tuesday against Liechtenstein. Prior to the 6-0 win, their last eight goalscorers had been 27 or under.
Trying introduction for Cannavaro
While Fabio Cannavaro climbed to the top of the mountain of international football in his playing days, the World Cup winner suffered a chastening start to his management career at national team level. Taking over the China PR reins from Italian compatriot Marcelo Lippi, the former defender endured defeats to Thailand – who avenged their AFC Asian Cup last-16 exit – and Uzbekistan. Having arrived to a mixed fanfare, as well as still being at the helm of Guangzhou Evergrande, the Azzurri legend will be intent on turning things around in a hurry.