Saturday, April 01, 2017

First to join the party

Top of the football rankings Brazil became the first team to qualify for Russia 2018 after humiliating Uruguay 4-1 in Montevideo and picking up an expected 3-0 win at home to Paraguay. At the same time, Ecuador moved down to rankings and qualifying table, losing 2-1 in Paraguay and 2-0 at home to Colombia while Argentina suffered a 2-0 loss in Bolivia.
In the CONCACAF section Panama lost 1-0 away to Trinidad and Tobago while in Oceania Papua New Guinea were stunned 3-1 at home to Tahiti but bounced back 2-1 in their away match.
In Europe the low countries had a low time with the Dutch losing 2-0 in Bulgaria and Belgium needing a late goal to draw 1-1 at home to Greece in qualifiers while Luxembourg lost a friendly 2-0 at home to Cape Verde. In another friendly match Estonia shocked Croatia 3-0 in Tallinn after having picked up a point in a goalless qualifier match in Cyprus while Macedonia put 3 past hosts Liechtenstein without reply. In Asia Japan won 2-0 in the UAE and South Korea lost 1-0 in China while in qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup India shocked hosts Myanmar 1-0 while Kyrgyzstan could only put one goal past their visitors from Macau and Bahrain drew blanks at home to Singapore. In the qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, South Sudan surrendered 2-0 in Djibouti but progressed to the next round.
Nicaragua became the last team to qualify for this year’s Gold Cup with a 3-0 home victory against Haiti.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Early starters

While most of the world was taking a winter break, the year began with a shock 2-1 extra-time defeat for Trinidad and Tobago at home to Suriname in the Caribbean Cup qualifier 5th place play-off group. The Central American Cup was hosted by Panama who opened with a goalless draw against Belize, giving them their only point of the tournament. The hosts went on to lose 1-0 to eventual winners Honduras before picking up a win by the same result against Costa Rica. The Costa Ricans had played disappointing goalless draws against El Salvador and Nicaragua.
The Africa Cup of Nations took place in Gabon where Ivory Coast took an early flight home after drawing 0-0 with Togo and suffering a 1-0 loss to Morocco in their group matches. Tunisia got no further that the quarter-final stage losing 2-0 to Burkina Faso who went on to finish 3rd and DR Congo were also eliminated at that stage after a 2-1 defeat to Ghana who failed to reach the final after losing 2-0 to Cameroon. The Cameroonians overcame Egypt 2-1 in the final to life the cup and move up in the world rankings.