FIFA.com’s weekly statistical review focusses on international action, most notably with a host of major names reaching the 100-cap milestone as club sides took a step back during a packed midweek line-up.
There was also a landmark for a celebrated member of the coaching fraternity; Spain boss Vicente del Bosque. England ended a lengthy drought with their win over Brazil at Wembley, while Nigeria will be seeking to do likewise when Africa’s continental champions are determined on Sunday.
Wednesday proved to be a massive day of international action across the globe, but equally it was a special occasion for a host of celebrated names who registered their 100th international appearance. Two such players were Spain warhorse Carles Puyol and England full-back Ashley Cole both of whom are now seventh in their national team honours list, though still some way off Iker Casillas (143) and Peter Shilton (125) respectively. While fans of Spain and England were no doubt proud of their players' commitment to their country, fans of Croatia had cause to be filled with three times as much pride. During their side's match against Korea Republic they fielded a trio each reaching the 100 mark; Stipe Pletikosa, Dario Srna and Josip Simunic. As well as Ashley Cole, Brazilian midfielder Ronaldinho was also honoured at Wembley Stadium, as he was handed a commemorative shirt to mark his 100th appearance for A Seleção.
years is the CAF Africa Cup of Nations drought Nigeria will be seeking to end when they take on surprise packets Burkina Faso in Sunday’s final. A star-studded squad featuring the likes of Jay Jay Okocha, Rashidi Yekini and Sunday Oliseh lifted the Super Eagles to glory nearly two decades ago against Zambia in Tunisia, with current coach Stephen Keshi another member of that side. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, last reached the decider in 2000, and have appeared in six previous finals, while conversely the Burkinabe will be breaking new ground when they enter the stadium in Johannesburg, scene of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final™.
international matches was the record-equalling tally reached by Spain coach and 2012 FIFA World Coach of the Year Vicente Del Bosque, who drew level alongside former national team mentor Ladislao Kubala with Wednesday’s 3-1 win over Uruguay. The Budapest-born Kubala led Spain to 31 wins, 21 draws and 16 defeats over an 11-year period ending in 1980. Del Bosque, having managed Spain in a period that yielded the country's first FIFA World Cup and a second straight UEFA EURO crown, has the imposing record of 57 wins, five draws and just six defeats. Remarkably Kubala’s last match in charge also proved to be Del Bosque’s final experience with La Roja, even though the midfielder was forced to cool his heels on the bench. “Kubala was, above all, a gentleman, a very friendly and meticulous guy, something that is very important for a national team manager. I remember him as a very kind man, who loved football a lot", said Del Bosque.
years had passed since England last defeated Brazil until Frank Lampard’s impressive winner set up a 2-1 victory over the five-time world champions at Wembley. The run stretched over nine matches across three continents dating back to March 1990 when a lone Gary Lineker strike separated the teams. Wednesday’s win was also the first time that England has scored twice against A Seleção since a 2-0 victory at the Maracana in 1984. That match, though, is perhaps more famous among England supporters for John Barnes’ much eulogised goal as the then Watford man scored with a stunning slalom run and finish.
is an impressive goal ratio for any goal-thirsty striker, but that is also the unlikely tally credited to Australia central-defender Robbie Cornthwaite who netted a third goal in six outings against Romania on Wednesday. Though still early in his international career, Cornthwaite has almost surpassed his A-League tally of four goals, which took six seasons and 103 matches for Adelaide United to accrue. Conversely Lucas Neill, Cornthwaite’s fellow central defender for the match against Romania, has yet to open his international account for the Socceroos in a 17-year career spanning 89 matches. Cornthwaite’s curious international goalscoring knack is reminiscent of fellow Adelaidian Kosta Salapasidis, who stunned eventual champions Argentina with a four-goal haul at the 1997 FIFA U-20 World Cup, despite a domestic career which had generated just one goal in 52 matches up to that point.