Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Russia 2018 takes winter break



The World Cup qualifiers took a winter break after a busy week in November. French Guiana came from 2 down to blow hosts Haiti away 5-2 with a hat-trick from Sloan Privat in the rearranged World Cup qualifier in the Caribbean section while in North America Mexico were 2-1 winners in the USA and Honduras lost 1-0 at home to Panama. In South America Paraguay were humiliated 4-1 at home to Peru and lost 1-0 in Bolivia who had earlier been humbled 5-0 in Venezuela. The Venezuelans then lost 3-0 in Ecuador and Peru lost 2-0 at home to Brazil, who top the football rankings, while Argentina put 3 past their visitors from Colombia and Chile sent Uruguay home 3-1 losers. In Europe Poland were 3-0 victorious in Romania and Israel enjoyed the same result at 9-man Albania while Armenia came from 2 down against Montenegro to celebrate a last-minute home win and  Denmark triumphed 4-1 at home to Kazakhstan. Georgia could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Moldova while the Irish Republic won by a single goal in Austria and Belarus who enjoyed a 1-0 win in Greece were beaten 1-0 in Bulgaria days later and Lithuania were taken apart 4-0 in Slovakia.
In Africa Cameroon were held to a 1-1 home draw by Zambia while Cape Verde were beaten 2-0 by their visitors from Burkina Faso and Senegal lost 2-1 in South Africa. Nigeria enjoyed a 3-1 home win over Algeria while Mali were held at home to a goalless draw by Gabon and in Oceania Tahiti lost 1-0 away to the Solomon Islands while New Zealand fired blanks in New Caledonia. In Asian qualifiers Australia drew 2-2 in Thailand, Syria and Iran played a goalless match in Malaysia and Iraq lost 2-0 in the UAE while in the Solidarity Cup in Malaysia, Brunei smashed East Timor 4-0, Laos were humiliated 4-1 by Macau and enjoyed a 2-0 win over Sri Lanka. In an East Asian Cup qualifier Taiwan defeated Guam 2-0 in Hong Kong.    

Friday, October 14, 2016

The rises and falls of October



The quest to reach Russia 2018 continued in October. Latvia were upset 2-0 at home by the Faroe Islands and endured the same scoreline a few days later when they hosted Hungary while the Faroese were brought back down to earth on home soil when they were hit for 6 by European champions Portugal. A dominant Spain drew 1-1 in Italy before winning 2-0 in Albania while Israel who enjoyed a 2-1 win in Macedonia must have been much less satisfied repeating the result at home to lowly Liechtenstein. After crushing their Kazakh visitors 5-0, Montenegro picked up another 3 points with a 1-0 victory in Denmark while Armenia who were thumped 5-0 at home to Romania only lost 2-1 to a stoppage-time goal in Poland. Turkey were beaten 2-0 in Iceland after having drawn 2-2 at home to Ukraine and in group D Serbia enjoyed a 3-0 win in Moldova while Wales could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Georgia. The Dutch started well in their 2 home matches with a 4-1 win against Belarus, but then lost 1-0 to France while Belarus were held 1-1 at home to Luxembourg. Scotland dropped in the rankings after drawing 1-1 at home to Lithuania before losing 3-0 in Slovakia who had returned from a 1-0 loss in Slovenia while Azerbaijan celebrated a 1-0 win at home to Norway before holding their Czech hosts to a goalless draw. Bosnia and Herzegovina were battered 4-0 in Belgium while Switzerland picked up a narrow 2-1 win away to Andorra.
In South America Argentina drew 2-2 in Peru before being stunned 1-0 at home to Paraguay while champions Chile were swept aside 3-0 in Ecuador and Bolivia were belittled 5-0 in Brazil.
The third round of the qualifiers in Africa got underway and after losing a friendly 1-0 at home to Kenya, DR Congo began with a 4-0 win over Libya while Tunisia put 2 past Guinea. Ivory Coast enjoyed a 3-1 home win over Mali while Nigeria were 2-1 winners in Zimbabwe and Ghana were held to a goalless home draw by Uganda.
In Asia Syria were 1-0 winners in China but suffered the reverse result in Qatar while a single goal gave Iran all 3 points in Uzbekistan. The UAE lost 3-0 in Saudi Arabia while Iraq brushed Thailand aside 4-0 in Iran and Japan picked up a 1-1 draw in Australia. In an Asia Cup qualifier Bangladesh were beaten 3-1 in Bhutan and in a friendly match North Korea were taken apart 5-2 in Vietnam.
In the Caribbean Cup qualifiers Trinidad & Tobago eased 4-0 past Dominican Republic but lost 2-0 in extra time away to Martinique who had returned from the Dominican Republic with a 2-1 victory.   
In a friendly match New Zealand held their American hosts to a 1-1 draw.