Friday, April 03, 2009

The pressure of spring matches

The last weekend in March and April Fools day presented some of the continental heavyweights with uncomfortable tests which may have a lasting effect on their quest to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as other teams edge closer to the finals.
Saudi Arabia came from behind to stun their hosts Iran with 2 late goals in the Azadi Stadium. The 2-1 defeat resulted in the dismissal of Iranian manager Ali Daei.
Farhad Tadjiev made the most of Uzbekistan’s numerical advantage with a hat-trick as the home side enjoyed a 4-0 win against 10-man Qatar.
Morocco got off to a poor start in their 3rd round matches losing 2-1 at home to Gabon, while Togo, who were ordered to play their home fixture in Ghana, replied with a 1-0 triumph over Cameroon.
Bosnia and Herzegovina did the double over Belgium winning 4-2 away and 2-1 at home while Finland finished off Welsh hopes with a 2-0 victory in Cardiff. The Czech Republic suffered a blow losing 2-1 at home to neighbours Slovakia, and Kazakhstan came unstuck losing 5-1 at home to Belarus. Poland who had lost 3-2 in Northern Ireland returned home to run riot against San Marino handing them a 10-0 humiliation.
Bolivia provided the world with the biggest shock of the round as they thrashed Maradona’s Argentina 6-1 in La Paz with Botero Joaquin grabbing a hat-trick.
A 3-1 defeat away to Honduras with Carlo Costly scoring twice cost Sven Göran Eriksson his job as Mexico manager.
The effect of these and other results on the rankings can be seen at

Watch highlights from the Bolivia v Argentina match: