World Cup 2018 Qualifiers: Referees Cakir, Marriner and Brych in action

Cuneyt Cakir and Tony Chapron will take charge of Wales and the Republic of Ireland respectively, while England’s Andre Marriner and Germany’s Felix Brych are also in action on Thursday night in the second round of 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

cuneyt-cakir-andre-marriner-and-felix-brych
In the middle: (left to right) Cuneyt Cakir, Andre Marriner and Felix Brych will be making the decisions in their first 2018 World Cup qualifiers of the campaign

TURKISH referee Cuneyt Cakir will be making the decisions when Wales face Austria in their second 2018 World Cup qualifier on Thursday night.

Also in Group D, French official Tony Chapron will take charge of the Republic of Ireland’s clash with Georgia at the AVIVA Stadium.

England’s Andre Marriner will be in the middle for Macedonia against Israel, while German whistler Felix Brych has been assigned to the other Group D encounter between European heavyweights Italy and Spain.

Elsewhere, in Group I, Spain’s David Fernandez Borbalan will referee Croatia’s first-ever meeting with minnows Kosovo and Manuel Grafe of Germany will lead the team of officials for Turkey against Ukraine.

Experienced Istanbul disciplinarian Cakir has officiated at three major tournaments and crucial semi-final ties in Europe, as well as Barcelona’s 3-1 win over Juventus in the 2015 Champions League Final.

The insurance broker, who turns 40 next month, booked six players during Leicester’s 1-0 win over Porto in the Champions League last month.

Meanwhile, Chapron has handled a number of World Cup and European qualifiers since joining the Fifa list in 2007.

But the former educational adviser, 44, who has been officiating in France’s Ligue 1 since 2005, has only previously encountered one of the home nations – in Northern Ireland’s goalless draw with Italy in a Euro 2012 qualifier.

Marriner, 45, has been widely criticised for his domestic form already this season after failing to see Sergio Aguero’s elbow on Winston Reid and Leroy Fer’s double foul on Gary Cahill in the Premier League.

The West Midlands whistler is a regular in the Europa League and dished out nine yellows, three reds and awarded one penalty in Ajax’s 2-1 win at Panathinaikos last month in their first group game.

But, despite appearing at Euro 2016 as an additional assistant, he doesn’t have a wealth of international experience as a referee and will oversee only his third ever World Cup qualifier, having been on the Fifa list since 2009.

Brych, a doctor of law from Munich, has often attracted controversy for his card-happy approach but has received a number of high-profile appointments, including the 2014 Europa League Final and several European knockout ties.

The 41-year-old, who has been refereeing in the Bundesliga since 2004, went to the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 – where he took charge of England’s last-gasp 2-1 win over British rivals Wales in the group stages.

Italy beat Spain 2-0 in the last 16 of the tournament in France, having also met twice at Euro 2012 with Spain thrashing Italy 4-0 in the final in Kiev.

Borbalan, who is expected to step up since the retirement of Spanish colleague Carlos Velasco Carballo, has never ventured beyond the Champions League group stage or Europa League round of 32 during his six-year Fifa career thus far.

The Almeria-born entrepreneur, 43, who made his La Liga debut in September 2004, handled three qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup – including Scotland’s 1-0 victory in Croatia.

Meanwhile, sports scientist Grafe has encountered West Ham and Southampton already in this season’s Europa League and was in charge of Wales’ 2-1 victory over Cyprus in Euro 2016 qualifying.

The 43-year-old, from Berlin, who is now considered a prominent figure in the Bundesliga, has not been as involved on the international stage as he has in the Champions League and Europa League, with his senior debut not coming until 2010.

You can see a full list of match official appointments for Thursday’s qualifiers here.

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