So, now that the final International Break of 2017 has concluded. Let’s look back at what was a busy week of Footballing action across the World, none more so for our 14 International Hammers in their respective Nations, how did they all get on?
We start on The Continent where only three of our Claret & Blue stars featured over the last seven days as 2018 World Cup Qualifying reached The Play-Off Stage.
It would be a record-breaking week for Three Lions keeper Joe Hart at Wembley, as he made a landmark 75th England appearance, thus equalling David Seaman’s record and becoming the joint second highest capped shot-stopper to represent his Nation.
Hart, after watching the goalless draw with Germany on Friday from the bench, did so by starting the Bobby Moore fund International two days ago in West London, keeping a clean sheet against one of the best attacks in The World in the form of Brazil’s.
Another man who was in friendly action over the Break was Austria’s Marko Arnautovic, the winger started and was substituted off in the 86th minute of the 2-1 home victory over Uruguay after the Austrians failed to make it to Russia last month.
Last, but not least, a little closer to home was Edimilson Fernandes and the little matter of Switzerland’s two-legged Qualifying Play-Off with Northern Ireland.
Acting as an unused substitute on both of the ties, Fernandes watched on as the Swiss claimed a place at Russia in fortunate circumstances after a 1-0 aggregate win over the two clashes, it will be the midfielder’s first Major Tournament.
Just two Hammers made the long trip to Africa for November’s Break, but what a week it would be for Senegal Skipper Cheikhou Kouyate and forward Diafra Sakho.
The Lions of Teranga headed into their two away and home Group D encounters with South Africa knowing that if they could take three points from either game, they would be heading to Russia.
Sakho and Kouyate helped to make sure that there need to no stress for the second game as a 0-2 away win, in which the former scored a 12th-minute opener, was enough to take Aliou Cisse’s men through to their first World Cup since 2002.
With the second game being merely a meaningless exhibition with the fate of Both Nationals already sealed, Sakho started on the bench, but the Captain started with the hosts leaving it late to finish Qualifying in some style, winning 2-1 in the dying embers.
North, Central America, and The Caribbean:
Only striker Javier Hernandez, who joined up with Mexico, would be featuring in this part of the World where Qualifying had finished and with his Nation travelling for friendlies in Belgium and Poland.
Starting in the first tie, a thrilling 3-3 draw in Brussels, Chicharito had to be hauled off on 51 minutes with a hamstring injury, forcing him to miss the Poland clash and what is expected to be weeks of Domestic Football, a disastrous week from his viewpoint.
A massive week laid in waiting for Captain Winston Reid and his New Zealand team after they made it to the Play-Off round and faced off with favourites Peru over two legs.
Wiremu earned Man of the Match in the first game as The Kiwis held off their opposition ad home for a 0-0 draw, but they were unable to do so in the second leg this morning, losing 2-0 and missing out on a spot at Russia.
Much like the Senior Hammers, as many as seven of the younger Claret & Blue stars represented their Nations last week and this week across all of Continental Europe.
We’ll start with young defensive midfielders Josh Cullen and Declan Rice who have recently been regulars in The Republic of Ireland’s U21 outfit, the latter being The Skipper.
They faced off with teammate Martin Samuelsen’s Norway in a UEFA U21 European Championship Qualifier in Drammen, although Samuelsen did not play a part in the fixture.
Cullen and Rice, however, started in midfield together but were on the losing side away from home to the tune of 2-1, as the hosts stole victory in added time of the Group 5 encounter.
Also representing Ireland but at U19 level was Conor Coventry for a Training Camp, whilst Domingos Quina scored in Portugal U19’s 1-2 triumph in an away friendly against Spain.
Meanwhile, on the wrong end of an away friendly clash that finished 2-1 was Reece Oxford and his England U20s, whilst Latvia U19s keeper Rihards Matrevics played the full game as his Nation drubbed San Marino in European U19 Championship Qualifying.
So, with fourteen Hammers now returning to East London from all four corners of the World, can they hit the ground running under new Manager David Moyes, continuing their International form? As the first-team prepares to visit Vicarage Road on Super Sunday and the U23s face off with Derby County at The London Stadium tomorrow night.