Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to business

A week after the World Cup final, African teams continued their qualification matches for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Rwanda overturned their 2-0 loss in Congo to win at home on penalties but were later disqualified for fielding an ineligible player, sending Congo through to the group stage where they shocked hosts Nigeria 3-2 while Uganda won 1-0 in Mauritania to reached the group stage where they earned a 1-1 draw in Ghana before putting 2 past their visitors from Guinea. Mozambique who had done well to share 4 goals in Tanzania returned from Zambia with a goalless draw but where held 1-1 at home to Niger who had earlier lost 3-1 at home to Cape Verde. Malawi were another team needing penalties after reversing their 1-0 defeat in Benin. In the group stage Egypt were beaten 2-0 in Senegal, who enjoyed the same result in Botswana, and lost 1-0 to Tunisia in Cairo while Ivory Coast who could only manage a 2-1 win over Sierra Leone were thumped 4-1 in Cameroon. DR Congo lost 2-0 at home to Cameroon but reversed the scoreline when they were visited by Sierra Leone 4 days later. South Africa won 3-0 in Sudan but the same result for Burkina Faso in Angola was even more impressive.   
The Central American Cup took place in the USA without the participation of the host nation and was won by Costa Rica who reached the final by topping their group on goal difference having only managed a 2-2 draw with Panama. Beaten finalists Guatemala impressed with a 2-1 victory over El Salvador and a 2-0 win against Honduras who had earlier been stunned 1-0 by El Salvador.
The Caribbean qualifiers continued with Suriname being held 1-1 by Barbados before suffering a shocking 3-2 defeat to Bonaire and finishing bottom of the group despite playing out a goalless draw against group hosts and winners Martinique who had only managed a 3-2 win against Barbados. CuraƧao won the group hosted by Puerto Rico after drawing 2-2 with their hosts, upsetting Grenada 2-1 and holding French Guiana to a goalless draw while the big surprise in Antigua was Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' 1-0 victory over the Dominican Republic. Guyana were a huge disappointment in Saint Kitts, firing blanks against Dominica before losing 2-0 to Saint Lucia and group hosts Saint Kitts who had earlier demolished Dominica 5-0 in the group.
In Europe the road to France began with some astonishing results that shook the rankings as Portugal were humiliated 1-0 at home to Albania and Cyprus returned from Bosnia and Herzegovina with a 2-1 triumph while England rolled the Swiss over 2-0 in Basel. Romania and Slovakia each won by a single goal to nil in Greece and Ukraine respectively while Turkey were frozen 3-0 in Iceland. Northern Ireland enjoyed a 2-1 win in Hungary while the Dutch who had lost a friendly 2-0 in Italy went down 2-1 to a late goal in the Czech Republic. World champions Germany who lost their homecoming friendly 4-2 to World Cup finalists Argentina began their campaign for France 2016 with a 2-1 win over Scotland in Dortmund while Italy won 2-0 in Norway and Slovenia lost 1-0 to their hosts in Estonia. The Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria were 2-1 winners in Georgia and Azerbaijan respectively while Moldova lost 2-0 in Montenegro and Sweden earned a 1-1 draw in Austria. Robert Lewandowski scored 4 times as Poland put 7 past new boys Gibraltar in Portugal while among friendly matches Brazil beat Colombia 1-0 in Florida, Sri Lanka enjoyed a 2-1 victory in Seychelles, Suriname registered a 1-0 win in French Guiana and the Northern Mariana Islands picked up a 2-1 win over Macao in an East Asian Cup qualifier in Guam. Myanmar cruised 4-1 past Palestine in the Philippine Peace Cup to reach the final where they defeated their hosts 3-2 in extra time.