Thursday, June 07, 2012

World awaits the Euros

In the months leading up to Euro 2012 a limited number of international matches were played with the Philippines excelling in the rankings after defeating India 2-0, Tajikistan 2-1 and finally overcoming Palestine 4-3 in Nepal to finish 3rd in the AFC Challenge Cup, but as June approached, the world sprang into action with preparatory matches for the Euro 2012 participants and World Cup qualifiers for other FIFA members. In European friendly matches the Netherlands suffered a shock 2-1 loss to Bulgaria and Germany were sunk 5-3 away to the Swiss while Italy were routed 3-0 by Russia in Zurich. Portugal were held to a goalless draw at home to Macedonia and later stunned 3-1 by non qualifiers Turkey who went on to conquer co hosts Ukraine 2-0 in Germany while the Czech Republic lost 2-1 to the visiting Magyars. Latvia went on to beat Finland on penalties and win the Baltic Cup after having belittled Lithuania 5-0 in Estonia.
In World Cup qualifiers Iran picked up 3 vital points with a stoppage-time goal in Uzbekistan while in South America champions Uruguay were brought down to earth with a 1-1 draw at home to Venezuela. Argentina eased past Ecuador 4-0 and Colombia scored a single goal to win in Peru while Brazil lost a friendly 2-0 to Mexico in the U.S.A. New Zealand may have beaten Honduras 1-0 in an American friendly, but their narrow 1-0 and 2-1 wins over Fiji and Papua New Guinea in the Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup qualifiers held on the Solomon Islands were far less impressive while Tahiti defeated 9-man New Caledonia 4-3 before hammering Vanuatu - who had already lost 5-2 to New Caledonia - 4-1 to top their group.
In Africa, Sudan celebrated a 2-0 home triumph over Zambia, and Central African Republic enjoyed the same success over Botswana while Cape Verde lost 2-1 in Sierra Leone and Mali lost to a single goal in Benin. Ethiopia picked up a dazzling 1-1 draw in South Africa and Uganda achieved the same result in Angola.