International round-up: Forwards Ajeti and Diallo take to the pitch
After eight West Ham United players were in action for their countries on Thursday evening, a further two – both young forwards – took to the pitch on Friday night.
In 2020 UEFA European Championship qualifying, West Ham summer signing Albian Ajeti was handed a starting berth for Switzerland, who hosted Georgia at AFG Arena, St. Gallen.
The appearance marked former Basle striker Ajeti’s tenth senior international cap – his only goal thus far coming against Group D rivals Denmark – and saw him link up with former Hammer Edmilson Fernandes, as well as Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka.
Switzerland needed a win to maintain pressure on group leaders Denmark in the race for qualification, but it was the visitors who were the brighter team initially, hitting the post following a goalmouth scramble with just seven minutes played.
The home team grew into the game, however, and began to lay siege to the Georgian goal particularly from range, with 23 shots, 11 attempts on target, and 69 per cent possession throughout the 90 minutes.
Ajeti’s clearest opportunity to add to his tally came in the 23rd minute when Xhaka’s long-range effort was spilled by Giorgi Loria, but the rebound just rolled away from the striker who, by the time he had recovered, was closed down by the goalkeeper.
The striker’s night eventually concluded on 71 minutes, with his replacement and former Basle teammate, Cedric Itten, heading home a winner six minutes later.
The result means that, heading into their final qualifier against Gibraltar, Ajeti’s Switzerland remain one point behind Denmark, but crucially two ahead of the Republic of Ireland in third position.
In action for England, meanwhile, was Amadou Diallo, making his third appearance for the U17 side off the bench against Denmark U17s.
Playing at Alfreton Town’s Impact Arena, 16-year-old Diallo emerged for Kevin Betsy’s young Lions with just over 20 minutes remaining, England trailing 3-1 at that point.
Goals from Maurits Kjaergaard, Wahidullah Faghir and Andreas Pedersen Bredahl had granted the junior Danes an unassailable lead, despite Lewis Dobbin pulling one back for England moments prior to Diallo’s entrance.
Diallo will now hope to see more minutes when England U17s host Czech Republic U17s on Tuesday evening.