Records and raised eyebrows
© AFP

FIFA.com’s latest statistical review is dominated by a dramatic few days of international action that ended in joy for Miroslav Klose and Argentina, relief for France and despair for Portugal. Read on for more on all of this, plus a look at the latest exploits of the ageless Alexsandr Duric.

103

caps was the landmark reached by Miroslav Klose last night as he drew level with the great Franz Beckenbauer in the list of Germany’s record caps-holders. The Bayern Munich striker, who currently sits joint-fourth with Der Kaiser, needs only six more international appearances to move into outright second, ahead of both Jurgen Kohler and Jurgen Klinsmann. Lothar Matthaus’s record mark of 150 is likely to prove a little more difficult to surpass but, in terms of goalscoring, Klose has another legend firmly in his sights. The winner against Belgium on Friday and a double in last night’s 6-1 win over Azerbaijan took him on to 55 goals for Germany, leaving him within 13 of Gerd Muller’s final tally of 68.

90

minutes against Cyprus was all it took for Eduardo to concede more goals than in his entire international career prior to last Friday. The Portugal No1 had conceded just three goals in 19 internationals and kept a clean sheet in 10 of his last 12 appearances, but was beaten four times during an error-strewn 4-4 draw with the unfancied Cypriots. It was the first time in 27 years – since a 5-0 defeat to the former USSR in 1983 – that Portugal had conceded four goals in a competitive international and was all the more shocking as they went into the match with an unblemished record in eight previous encounters with Cyprus. Nor did matters improve for A Selecção das Quinas last night in Norway, where they slumped to a 1-0 defeat in which just two of their 17 efforts on goal succeeded in testing the goalkeeper.

20

days after blowing out the candles on his 40th birthday cake, Alexsandar Duric became the week’s oldest goalscorer with a double in Tampines Rovers’ 5-2 win over Beijing Guoan II. The veteran Bosnian, who has become a goalscoring legend in Singapore since moving to the island nation in 1999, racking up almost 350 goals in fewer than 300 appearances, was again a key figure as Tampines came from behind and returned to the top of the S-League table. With 27 matches played, the eastern outfit are one point clear of second-placed Home United with a game in hand and in pole position to claim their first league championship since 2005. Duric, meanwhile, is once again vying for the honour of Singapore’s top scorer, with this latest brace taking him to within two goals of the current leader, Home United’s Shahril Ishak.

10

years and one month after Spain last conceded four goals in a single game, Argentina created something of a stir by replicating the 4-1 defeat dealt out by Germany in August 2000. For the world and European champions, it continued a miserable record in Buenos Aires, where they have failed to win in four attempts, losing three times (1953, 1960, 2010) and drawing once (1974). Not that they are alone in struggling in the Argentinian capital. Indeed, La Albiceleste are now unbeaten in their last 40 matches in Buenos Aires, a sequence that stretches back 15 years to a 1-0 loss at the hands of old rivals Brazil. This latest success also brought welcome relief for Lionel Messi, who ended a 15-match international scoring drought with his first goal since finding the net in November of last year against, you guessed it, Spain. The Barcelona star’s beautifully executed opener was typical of Argentina’s ruthless efficiency in a match in which, belying the scoreline, they registered just seven shots to La Roja’s 22.

7

years without a competitive win in France colours came to an end for Philippe Mexes last night when he celebrated his first meaningful victory for Les Bleus since a 5-0 triumph over New Zealand at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup. Nor was the Roma centre-half the only relieved Frenchman in Sarajevo, where a 2-0 win saved Laurent Blanc from becoming the first coach in his country’s history to lose his first three games in charge. France had already accrued a hatful of unwanted milestones over the past week, with Friday’s home defeat to Belarus their fourth in succession and sixth of this calendar year – the team’s worst such sequences since the 1930s. Belarus went into the match having won just eight of their previous 38 UEFA European Championship qualifiers, but became just the second side – and the first since Russia in 1999 – to beat the French in a competitive fixture at the Stade de France.