Friday, March 29, 2019

Euro adventure begins

The qualifiers for Euro 2020 that will be co-hosted by 12 countries began with Scotland, still in hibernation, slumbering to a 3-0 humiliation in Kazakhstan, though a Kazakhs were brought down to earth 4-0 by their Russian visitors a few days later while Austria were stunned 1-0 at home to Poland and within days suffered a 4-2 defeat in Israel with Eran Zahavi scoring a hat-trick for the hosts. Germany enjoyed a 3-2 win in the Netherlands while World Cup finalists, Croatia, lost 2-1 in Hungary and Portugal were held to a goalless draw at home to Ukraine. Greece came from 2 down to draw 2-2 at 10-man Bosnia and Herzegovina while there were away wins for Albania 3-0 in Andorra and for Finland 2-0 in Armenia.
In African qualifiers Equatorial Guinea hammered their Sudanese hosts 4-1 with the help of 2 penalties from Emilio Nsue while Uganda lost 3-0 in Tanzania and Libya lost 2-1 at home to South Africa for whom Percy Tau netted both goals. Morocco were held to a goalless draw in Malawi and Gambia earned a 1-1 draw in Algeria while in friendly matches Bangladesh were 1-0 winners in Cambodia and El Salvador defeated Peru 2-0 in America.   

Monday, February 04, 2019

Qatar conquer Asia

Future World Cup hosts, Qatar, showed they mean business by winning the 2019 Asian Cup and shooting up the football rankings. For the first time 24 teams took part in the tournament that was hosted by the United Arab Emirates who got off to a weak start with a 1-1 draw against Bahrain while debutants India shocked Thailand 4-1 in the same group. The Thais bounced back to beat Bahrain 1-0 and progressed from group A after a 1-1 draw with UAE together with the host and Bahrain, leaving the unfortunate Indians rooted to the bottom of the group having lost their final game to a stoppage time penalty against Bahrain. Reigning Asian champions, Australia, were stunned 1-0 by Jordan who topped group B having put 2 past Syria without reply. South Korea, China and Kyrgyzstan made it out of group C as expected while from group D Vietnam followed Iran and Iraq into the round 16 where they celebrated a penalty-shootout victory over Jordan. Qatar won group E with 2 goals against Saudi Arabia from Almoez Ali who had earlier scored 4 times in their 6-0 demolition of North Korea. Japan won group F as expected and were followed by Uzbekistan and Oman into the next round. Australia lost their crown 1-0 to their hosts in the quarter-finals where South Korea’s campaign ended 1-0 at the hands of Qatar. Iran, who had yet to concede a goal in the tournament, were stopped 3-0 by Japan in the semi-finals where Qatar destroyed their hosts 4-0 to reach the final and lift the cup for the first time with a 3-1 victory over Japan.