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 Peru 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.

Friday, September 09, 2016

All roads to Russia

Less than 2 months after Portugal lifted Euro 2016 in Paris, as Europe became the last continent to kick off their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the Portuguese began their campaign with a 2-0 defeat away to Switzerland while new boys Kosovo picked up a 1-1 draw in Finland and England began life under Sam Allardyce with a 1-0 victory in Slovakia. After losing 2-0 at home to Spain in a friendly, a double from Lukaku helped Belgium to a 3-0 win in Cyprus while France fired blanks in Belarus as did Hungary away to the Faroe Islands. Austria were 2-1 winners in Georgia while Scotland ran out 5-1 winners in Malta with a hat-trick from Snodgrass and Germany put 3 past their Norwegian hosts without reply. Romania could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Montenegro and in a friendly match the Dutch lost 2-1 at home to Greece.
Bolivia enjoyed the biggest leap in the rankings after winning 2-0 at home to Peru and travelling to Chile where they held the continental champions to a goalless draw. The Chileans had earlier lost 2-1 in Paraguay who went on to suffer a 4-0 spanking in Uruguay with Cavani claiming half the goals while Brazil enjoyed a 3-0 win in Ecuador and Argentina drew 2-2 away to Venezuela after having won by a single goal at home to Uruguay.
In the North, Central America and Caribbean section Haiti upset their Jamaican hosts 2-0 and Honduras returned from Mexico with a goalless draw while Guatemala enjoyed a spectacular 9-3 goal fest at home to St Kitts and Nevis.
In a friendly match Kazakhstan lost 2-0 in Kyrgyzstan while in competitive matches in Asia Japan suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at home to the UAE but picked up a 2-0 win in Thailand 5 days later while the UAE fell to a single goal in Australia. Qatar lost 1-0 at home to Uzbekistan while there were creditable goalless draws for Bhutan in Bangladesh and Syria in South Korea.
Africa took a break from the World Cup qualifiers to decide the final participants for the 2017 Africa Cup of nations. Rwanda earned a 1-1 draw away to already qualified Ghana while Congo hosted and defeated group winners Guinea Bissau 1-0 and Libya won also in vain by the same scoreline away to Cape Verde. There were 1-1 draws for Mauritania in South Africa and for Sierra Leone away to the Ivory Coast while Swaziland lost 1-0 in Malawi.