Friday, July 27, 2018

France dance on top of the world

The 2018 World Cup came to an end in Moscow with the French celebrating their 2nd championship in 20 years after beating Croatia 4-2 in the final and going to the top of the football rankings. France just about won their group but came to life in the knockout stage where they sent South America teams Argentina and Uruguay home before a single goal against Belgium took them to the final where they met Croatia who won their group in a more convincing fashion having crushed Argentina 3-0, but needed penalty shootouts to get past Denmark and host Russia before ending England’s hopes in extra time. Germany had a World Cup to forget, losing 1-0 to Mexico and being sent packing 2-0 by South Korea in the biggest shock of the tournament with Sweden winning the group and being accompanied by Mexico whom they stepped over 3-0 in their final group match, while Poland had an embarrassing World Cup, losing 2-1 to Senegal and being brushed aside 3-0 by Colombia before picking up a worthless 1-0 win against a motiveless Japan who had defeated Colombia 2-1 but went out in the next round. Russia began the World Cup by slaughtering Saudi Arabia 5-1 and continued to entertain and excite their fans by exceeding expectations and getting to the next round where they disposed of Spain on penalties. Having lost 1-0 to Serbia and 2-0 to Brazil, Costa Rica sent their supporters home with a satisfying 2-2 draw against the Swiss. Iceland began their first ever World Cup finals with a historic 1-1 draw against Argentina but melted 2-0 against Nigeria before going out 2-1 to Croatia. Despite once again failing to negotiate their way out of their group, Iran had a successful World Cup with a 1-0 victory over Morocco and were a goal away from winning the group in their 1-1 draw against Portugal.  

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.