Southampton Defenders In Spotlight In World Cup Qualifying

Southampton’s back line featured heavily in today’s international qualifying matches, featuring in the lineups of three nations across Europe and Asia.

Centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Maya Yoshida were capped for Netherlands and Japan respectively, featuring in their crucially important qualifying matches this afternoon.

Van Dijk, 25, played the full 90 in Netherlands’ match versus Sweden, which saw the Oranje draw 1-1 after an early Marcus Berg effort put Sweden up 1-0 just before halftime.

The Dutch side would later come back to score a decisive shot behind the legendary Wesley Sneijder in the 70th minute, salvaging a critical result.

After one day of play, Netherlands sit in a dead-heat in Group A behind Bulgaria, who recorded the group’s only win with an edging 4-3 victory over Luxembourg.

On the other side of the world, Maya Yoshida earned a cap for Japan, his 65th, as the squad beat Thailand 2-0. Goals were contributed by Genki Haraguchi in the 18th minute and Takuma Asano in the 75th, with Yoshida playing a key role in the defence against a spirited Thai side.

The three points are critical for Japan’s World Cup ambitions. Last time out, the side lost to United Arab Emirates 1-0. UAE and Japan are now tied on three points apiece, three points behind the automatic qualifying spots and vying for the third place slot that allows them to progress to a play-off round.

Also featuring today were Southampton’s two Euro 2016 heroes, Cédric Soares and captain Jose Fonte. Their Portuguese side played Switzerland but lost a disappointing 2-0 behind goals from Breel Embolo and Admir Mehmedi.

With Southampton facing a crucial test this weekend against Arsenal, fans will be delighted to see the defensive corps stepping up and representing their countries in the international break. For those counting along, this now makes nine Southampton players capped for their national teams this week.

Whether in the friendly confines of St. Mary’s or around the world, Saints stars continue to march on.

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