How four Hibs stars - and one former favourite - fared on World Cup duty

Nathan Moriah-Welsh was in make-or-break World Cup action for Guyana overnight.Nathan Moriah-Welsh was in make-or-break World Cup action for Guyana overnight.
Nathan Moriah-Welsh was in make-or-break World Cup action for Guyana overnight. | SNS Group
Mixed travel bag of air miles and playing time for Easter Road regulars

They’ve racked up plenty of hours in the air. Almost as many again in departure lounges and driving/being driven to and from airports. And actual game time? Well, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest.

Four Hibs players are currently wending their way home from a busy summer of international duty. The last thing most of them needed, quite frankly, at the end of a particularly difficult campaign at club level.

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Still, at least a couple of the quartet will return to East Mains in higher spirits after playing key roles for their respective nations. If they can also expect an extra week or so off to recover, they may well reflect on the summer of 2024 with some fondness.  Let’s take a look, then, at the guys who have been pulling down shifts on national service while their team-mates have been on the beach or the golf course.

Nathan Moriah-Welsh

The busiest Hibs player during the international duty will return to his club feeling energised, hopefully, after helping his country take a major leap towards World Cup qualification. There really wasn’t much more Moriah-Welsh could do for Guyana during this window.

The all-action midfielder jumped straight into a tough situation when he signed for Hibs in January. But that was nothing new for a player who declared for Guyana while still a teenager.

Opting to represent his mother’s home country, the only English-speaking nation in South America and a place he’s visited regularly since childhood, the 22-year-old has since established himself as a regular. And was always expected to play a key part in the summer qualifiers.

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Moriah-Welsh, who could also have represented Grenada through his father’s nationality, played the full 90 minutes as Guyana lost to Panama in their opening group game of CONCACAF’s multi-stage qualification process. He then played 85 minutes in last night’s ‘home’ game against Belize, which had to be played in Bridgetown, Barbados, because Guyana lacks a stadium that meets FIFA requirements for qualifiers.

Needing to win to put themselves in contention for the next stage of qualifying, the Golden Jaguars struggled to break down their opponents for well over an hour. But three goals in five minutes put them in control of a match that they eventually won 3-1, giving them their first points on match day two of their qualifying group – and keeping them in touch with joint leaders Nicaragua and Panama.

Rocky Bushiri

The big central defender insists he always learns something from being away with the Democratic Republic of Congo. And, despite being born and raised in Belgium, he’s immensely patriotic about the DRC; his late grandfather was the African nation’s ambassador to Belgium.

But Bushiri, who won his first cap in a 1-0 friendly defeat to South Africa last September, was an unused sub for both of the DRC’s World Cup qualifiers in this summer international window. The 24-year-old was left on the bench as Congo drew 1-1 with Senegal away from home, then watched from the sidelines again as they beat Togo 1-0 in Kinshasa.

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Bushiri.Bushiri.
Bushiri. | SNS Group

DRC sit third in their qualifying group after four fixtures, three points adrift of leaders Sudan and one behind Senegal. The nine CAF group winners qualify for the 2026 finals automatically, while the four best runners up will have to chase a complicated play-off path to the tournament.

Martin Boyle

He’s used to it by now, of course. But given the injury problems he went through last season, Boyle would only be human if he balked at the thought of flying to Thailand, Bangladesh and then Perth, Western Australia for a couple of World Cup qualifiers that meant precisely zero to the Socceroos, in terms of their chance of reaching the 2026 finals.

Already guaranteed to reach the third round of Asian qualifying after failing to concede a single goal in their group stages, the Aussies still took their double-header against Bangladesh and Palestine seriously. Hence Graham Arnold asking his players to report to a holding camp in Thailand for acclimatisation.

That paid off as they won 2-0 in Dhaka last week, before sticking five unanswered goals against Palestine in Perth yesterday. Boyle was rested for the first game but got a goal and two assists in a 70-minute shift on home soil.

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Jojo Wollacott

The Hibs goalie, for so long a back-up to former Scotland No. 1 – and now technical performance manager – David Marshall, has been on his travels again as part of the Ghana squad. With 11 full caps for his country, he’s considered an integral part of the group.

But the goalie was an unused sub as the Black Stars got back-to-back wins during the international window. They beat Mali 2-1 away from home before a Jordan Ayew hat-trick saw them edge out the Central African Republic in a 4-3 thriller back on home soil.

Ghana are locked in a battle for top spot in their qualifying group with Comoros, who are benefiting from Myziane Maolida’s revival during his loan spell at Hibs. The Hertha Berlin forward, who scored 11 goals for the Easter Road outfit following his January loan move, was on target again as Comoros beat Chad yesterday.