Friday, March 30, 2018

Waking up to Russia

After a long international winter break, the Russia 2018 participants were not the only countries to come out of hibernation. Slovenia, still sleeping, slumped to a 2-0 defeat at home to Belarus and sank the most in the football rankings while 9-man Bolivia lost 1-0 at 10-man Curacao with the 2 teams drawing 1-1 a few days earlier. Antigua & Barbuda drew 1-1 in Jamaica while Nigeria were 1-0 winners away to Poland and Kosovo defeated Burkina Faso 2-0 in France. Kazakhstan humiliated Hungary 3-2 in Budapest while Latvia fell 1-0 in Gibraltar and Iceland lost 3-0 to Mexico with Miguel Layun netting twice in Santa Clara, USA. The Netherlands swept Portugal aside with 3 first-half goals in Switzerland and Norway thrashed their visitors from Australian 4-1 with a hat-trick from Ola Kamara and Gareth Bale netted a hat-trick to become Wales’ all-time leading goal scorer as Wales smashed China 6-0 in the China Cup. Chile scored late to win 2-1 in Sweden while Scotland lost 1-0 at home to Croatia and Gabon beat the UAE 1-0 in Thailand.
In the Asian Cup qualifiers Myanmar, who were thrashed 5-1 by Kyrgyzstan in South Korea, could only manage a single goal at home to lowly Macau while Malaysia, who had earlier drawn a friendly match 2-2 at home to Mongolia, lost a qualifier 2-1 away to Lebanon and Vietnam achieved a 1-1 draw in Jordan while the Maldives battered Bhutan 7-0 in Malé.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Welcome to Russia

Peru became the 32nd nation after hosts Russia, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Belgium, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Germany, England, Spain, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Poland, Egypt, Iceland, Serbia, Portugal, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Panama, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark and Australia to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The Peruvians who were held to a goalless draw in New Zealand scored twice on home soil against the lowly ranked Kiwis to seal the final place in Russia. After a goalless draw at home to the Irish Republic, the Danish dynamite destroyed their hosts 5-1 in Dublin with Christian Eriksen netting a hat-trick while Switzerland could only draw 0-0 at home to Northern Ireland, but qualified having converted a controversial penalty in Belfast days earlier. Australia defeated Honduras 3-1 in Sydney with a hat-trick from skipper Mile Jedinak after a goalless draw in the first leg. There were goalless draws for the visiting Swedes and Croats who qualified at the expense of Italy and Greece respectively having won their home fixtures.
Tunisia made it to the world Cup despite drawing blanks at home to Libya in their final match while Morocco overcame their Ivorian hosts to reach the finals.
Among friendly matches in November the most outstanding result was Nicaragua’s 3-0 home demise against the Dominican Republic.