16/11/2016

Internationals: Pantilimon Recalled By Romania

Updated Wed Nov 16 at 10am

Costel Pantilimon was re-called to Romania's starting line-up but was powerless as a stoppage time goal handed Russia a late victory in Grozny last night (Tue Nov 15).

The Watford goalkeeper featured throughout the friendly fixture as Rubin Kazan's Magomed Ozdoev scored a 93rd-minute winner to defeat the Romanians right at the death.

Morocco were also in friendly action, seeing off Togo 2-1 with Nordin Amrabat introduced as a second-half substitute.

Racing Strasbourg's Khalid Boutaib bagged a brace in Marrakech as the Morrocans fought back following an early Togo opener.

Ecuador returned to winning ways in World Cup qualifying with a 3-0 beating of Venezuela, and Juan Carlos Paredes was once again involved for the full 90 minutes.

Arturo Mina, Miller Bolanos and Enner Valencia scored the goals, while Adalberto Penaranda played the first 69 minutes for the Venezuelans.

It was a bittersweet evening for Rhyle Ovenden, who played the entire game as Wales Under-19s thrashed Luxembourg 6-2 in Bangor.

Victory wasn't enough for the Young Dragons, who finished third in their 2017 UEFA Under-19 qualifying group, despite ending equal on points with top two England and Greece.


Updated Mon Nov 14 at 10am

Valon Behrami notched a superb assist for Switzerland on Sunday evening, as they defeated Faroe Islands 2-0 in World Cup qualifying action.  

Under pressure, Behrami launched a perfectly weighted half-volley from inside his own half onto the foot of Eren Derdiyok, who opened the scoring with a neat finish. 

Switzerland sit top of Group B ahead of Euro 2016 winners Portugal, who they beat on matchday one. 

Christian Kabasele missed out on Belgium's 8-1 thrashing of Estonia through injury, having made his debut for the Red Devils earlier in the week.


Updated Sun Nov 13 at 1pm

Nordin Amrabat played the entire 90 minutes as Morocco held Ivory Coast to a goalless draw in this evening's (Sat Nov 12) World Cup qualifier in Marrakech.

The point leaves Morocco third in African Group C, with 0-0 draws from each of their two opening games.

Odion Ighalo's Nigeria defeated Adlene Guedioura's Algeria 3-1 but neither Watford player made it off the bench.

The Hornets duo were both unused substitutes for their respective countries as the Nigerians secured their second win from two in African Group B.

A Victor Moses brace and John Obi Mikel's goal secured all three points for the Super Eagles, with Nabil Bentaleb scoring in return for the visitors, who suffered their first competitive defeat since the 2015 Nations Cup.

Academy midfielder Rhyle Ovenden was named in the Wales Under-19 starting XI for their impressive 3-2 win over England.

Watford's second-year scholar featured throughout as the Young Dragons edged a thrilling encounter in Bangor, securing their first win at the second attempt in 2017 UEFA Under-19 qualifying.

Goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon was an unused substitute during Romania's 3-0 defeat to Poland yesterday (Fri Nov 11).

Kamil Grosicki scored the Poles' opener before a Robert Lewandowski double conflicted defeat on the Romanians in World Cup qualifying.

For a full round-up of Watford players in action over the international break click HERE.

"A HUGE HONOUR" - OVENDEN ON WALES UNDER-19 CALL-UP

First Team 13/11/2016

Holebas | “The Right Time”

It will be an unfamiliar feeling for Jose Holebas, reporting for Hornets training at UCL during the international break.  

Five years, two major tournaments and 38 caps – not a bad record for the defender, who recently called time on an international career with Greece that only started at age 27.

Born in the German region of Bavaria, Holebas grew up with dreams of playing for Die Maanschaft, also holding eligibility for both Uruguay and Greece through his mother and father.

A move to Olympiacos in 2010 thrust him into the Hellenic limelight, and when called upon by then Greece manager Fernando Santos in 2011, Holebas proudly accepted the opportunity of international football with his paternal homeland. 
 

Holebas lines up for Greece against Poland at Euro 2012

Now, aged 32, Holebas says it’s right for his career that he should retire and concentrate on his role with the Golden Boys. 

“It was a personal decision for me,” he told Watford’s matchday programme The Hornet

“I just decided maybe now was the time to focus on my club. I had been with the national team for five years, playing every time with coaches coming and going, but I decided this was the right time to step back.

“It was a difficult decision. When you make a decision like this everyone looks at your age, but for me, age means nothing. 

“I’m totally fit and healthy and I think I can maybe play for another five years. It’s just that now I’m going to focus completely on my club career.”
 

Holebas dejected after Greece's penalty shootout defeat to Costa Rica at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Despite unerring confidence in his decision, Holebas goes to great lengths to note his pride in pulling on the blue and white shirt.

“I was proud to play for the national team, I was really proud to play for my country.” he explained.  

“Yes, you have to play more games and travel lots while other players who are not going to play for their national team are free to rest, but it’s a matter of being really proud of having the opportunity to play for your country - there’s always time to recover after.

“I played in the European Championships in 2012 and the World Cup in 2014, and I think they are the biggest competitions in the world that you can play in. 

“I’ve had so many good experiences playing for my national team, and I’m so pleased to have done this in my career.

“Now I have retired I will still follow the Greece national team very closely and I hope that they qualify for the next World Cup.”