Patience, pain and record breakers
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The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ qualifiers dominate FIFA.com’s latest stats review, with achievements to remember for Robbie Keane, Asamoah Gyan and Lucas Neill, and matches to forget for Denmark and France.

126

 international appearances is the impressive tally which has enabled Robbie Keane to become Republic of Ireland’s most-capped player. That record was claimed on Friday when the Los Angeles Galaxy striker – 15 years on from his first full cap at the age of 17 – surpassed the mark set by his long-time colleague, Shay Given. Keane marked the occasion in style too, grabbing a hat-trick against the Faroe Islands – the second treble of his international career – to strengthen his grip on the Republic’s all-time scoring record. The 32-year-old now has 59 international goals to his name, more than the likes of Gabriel Batistuta, Thierry Henry and Romario. Keane, in fact, sits fifth on the list of Europe’s all-time leading international marksmen, trailing only the illustrious quartet of Miroslav Klose (67), Gerd Muller (68), Sandor Kocsis (75) and Ferenc Puskas (84).

34

 goals is the tally that has established Asamoah Gyan as Ghana’s all-time record scorer. The 27-year-old struck twice in the Black Stars’ vital 3-1 win over Sudan at the weekend to overtake the legendary Abedi Pele, whose benchmark of 33 had stood for the past decade-and-a-half. Gyan has made a habit of writing history for Ghana from the very start, finding the net on his debut at the age of just 17 years and 353 days in 2003 to become the team’s youngest-ever goalscorer. Next on the forward’s list of targets is likely to the appearances record currently held by goalkeeper Richard Kingson. Gyan has 72 caps to his name and needs just 19 more to surpass his former international team-mate.

16

 years and 245 days on from his debut on 9 October 1996, Lucas Neill finally ended his long wait for an international goal. The 35-year-old found the net six minutes from time in Australia’s 4-0 win over Jordan to end a run of 90 successive goalless appearances and edge the Socceroos a step closer to Brazil 2014. It was the Aussies’ biggest competitive victory in over two years, since a 6-0 win over Uzbekistan at the AFC Asian Cup, and was secured in front of a crowd of 43,875 at Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium. The match also saw Neill draw level alongside Paul Wade with 46 appearances as Australian captain, behind only the Socceroos’ Germany 1974 skipper Peter Wilson, who donned the armband on 60 occasions. Yet while Neill’s goalscoring raised eyebrows, the most influential player on show was undoubtedly Robbie Kruse, who emerged from the game with a goal and two assists.

5

 defeats in 11 matches have given Didier Deschamps the worst start ever recorded by a France coach. Sunday’s 3-0 friendly loss to Brazil was the seventh reverse inflicted on Les Bleus in their last 13 matches – equivalent to the number of defeats suffered in their previous 43. Deschamps’ side failed to keep a clean sheet for the ninth successive match and conceded three goals in a single game for the first time in over five years. The French are also struggling at the other end, having scored just 11 times in the current coach’s 11 matches in charge – the lowest tally since Henri Guerin’s side managed just ten in 11 between 1964 and ’66. Losing to Brazil also ended an unbeaten sequence in this fixture stretching back six matches and 21 years, with A Seleção having failed to even score in the sides’ previous three meetings.

4

 unanswered Armenia goals handed Denmark their heaviest defeat in 26 years last night. The stunning home reverse was the Danes’ worst since being beaten 5-1 by Spain in the Round of 16 at Mexico 1986, although coach Morten Olsen – who played in that loss against La Roja – had no hesitation in describing Armenia’s unlikely triumph as “the worst night of my football life”. For the visitors, it was a record-equalling victory, and one made all the more remarkable as it came just four days after they went down 1-0 against a Malta side that, previously, had only ever won four competitive matches in their entire history. The Armenians’ hero was Yura Movsisyan, who opened the scoring after just 24 seconds and went on to complete a brace. The Spartak Moscow striker used to play his club football in Denmark for Randers, and the home fans generously applauded him off the pitch when he was substituted seven minutes from time.