Friday, October 26, 2018

Welcome to Africa


Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia and Egypt joined hosts Cameroon by qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, but Morocco failed to seal their fate and will have to wait as they could only draw 2-2 in Comoros with Ben Nabouhane completing his brace for the hosts with a minute to go. In other matches Angola gave themselves a lifeline by coming back from an early setback to thump their table-topping visitors from Mauritania 4-1 and Zimbabwe enhanced their chances of qualification with a 2-1 win away to DR Congo while Namibia scored in the last minute to win 2-1 in Mozambique. In group L Cape Verde enjoyed a 3-0 win over Tanzania with a double from Ricardo Gomez but lost the return match 2-0 to leave Uganda on the brink of qualification after Emmanuel Okwi scored twice in their 3-0 home victory and Farouk Miya netted both goals in their away win against Lesotho. Gambia lost 1-0 at home to Togo and South Africa were held to a goalless draw at Seychelles.
In the UEFA Nations League Gibraltar recorded their first ever win by beating Armenia 1-0 in Yerevan but the Armenians bounced back a few days later to put 4 past their visitors from Macedonia without reply and in a friendly match world champions France needed a late own goal and penalty to draw 2-2 at home to Iceland. In the CONCACAF Nations League qualifiers Belize lost 1-0 at Montserrat while St Vincent and the Grenadines were 1-0 winners away to French Guiana while in a friendly match Mongolia triumphed 4-1 in Laos.   

Friday, September 21, 2018

A new era


With the World Cup behind us, a new competition called the UEFA Nations League kicked off to replace meaningless friendly matches. The most notable results in the first 2 round of matches were Turkey’s remarkable comeback from 2 goals down in Sweden to win 3-2 with a last-gasp brace from Emre Akbaba and Spain’s 6-0 crushing of World Cup finalists Croatia in Elche. A similar competition began in the CONCACAF region where St Lucia soundly defeated Antigua and Barbuda 3-0 on their travels and Aruba embarrassed Bermuda 3-1 in Curacao. These competitions will be counted as friendly tournaments in the Ziaian rankings, but it was business as usual in Africa as Ghana were stunned 1-0 in Kenya and Sierra Leone suffered the same outcome in Ethiopia while Burkina Faso were beaten 2-0 in Mauritania in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. There were also 1-1 draws for Cameroon in Comoros and for Burundi in Gabon.
Having lost 4-1 at home to the Solomon Islands in a friendly, Macau took part in the East Asian Cup qualifiers in Mongolia where they lost by the same scoreline to their host before bouncing back to register a 2-0 win over Guam but could only draw 1-1 with the Northern Mariana Islands. Suriname returned from French Guiana 4-0 victorious in August.