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.    

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.