Thursday, February 12, 2015

Elephants reign in Africa

 Ivory Coast won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations hosted hastily by Equatorial Guinea after the withdrawal of Morocco. The Ivorians had been drawn in group D, dubbed the group of draws, and were the only team to win a match, beating Cameroon 1-0 in their final group-match with all other matches finishing 1-1 necessitating the drawing of lots to give Guinea second spot and passage to the next round ahead of Mali.
In group A Gabon opened with a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso but were then defeated 1-0 by Congo and 2-0 by Equatorial Guinea in a decider that saw the hosts follow group winners Congo into the next round.
In group B Tunisia began with a 1-1 draw against Cape Verde but won the group having secured the only win of the group beating Zambia 2-1 and were followed by DR Congo who succeeded ahead of Cape Verde on goals scored.
In group C Algeria came from behind to derail South Africa 3-1 before losing 1-0 to eventual group winners Ghana and eliminating Senegal (who had drawn 1-1 with South Africa) 2-0 in their final group-match.
In the quarter-final matches DR Congo rallied from 2 down with 25 minutes remaining to oust their Congolese neighbours 4-2 while in a controversial match hosts Equatorial Guinea sent Tunisia home 2-1 in extra time and Ghana cruised 3-0 past Guinea to reach the semi final where they inflicted the same result on their hosts in a match that was marred by crowd trouble. Algeria's hopes were dashed 3-1 by Ivory Coast who enjoyed the same result against DR Congo in the semi final to set up a final with Ghana whom they defeated on penalties after a goalless draw to lift the Africa Cup of Nations and excel themselves to 5th in the world footballrankings.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Aussies rule Asia

Australia hosted and won the Asian Cup for the first time since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2006. The Socceroos came from a goal down to ease 4-1 past Kuwait in their opener and hit 4 without reply against Oman in their next match, but were stunned by a single South Korean goal in their final group match to finish below the team they would meet in the final.
In group B North Korea suffered a 4-1 lashing by Saudi Arabia who were eliminated 3-1 by Uzbekistan, but It was China who topped the group, finishing above Uzbekistan whom they defeated 2-1 after falling behind in the first half. The Chinese fell 2-0 to the hosts at the next hurdle.
Palestine made their finals debut in group D where they were outclassed 4-0 by Japan and 5-1 by Jordan who were beaten to second place 1-0m by Iraq.  
In group C the United Arab Emirates hammered Qatar 4-1 and were moments away from winning the group when Iran, who had begun their campaign with a 2-0 win over Bahrain, broke the deadlock in stoppage time to win the group and send the Emiratis into a meeting with group D winners and reigning Asian champions Japan in the quarter finals. Qatar finished bottom of the group after losing 2-1 to Bahrain. The Emiratis led for most of their quarter-final match and after a 1-1 draw in extra time upset the Japanese on penalties while Iran, who were reduced to 10 men in the first half, battled Iraq to a 3-3 draw in extra time before suffering a shock exit on penalties.
In the semi finals Iraq ran out of steam and were beaten 2-0 by South Korea while Australia put 2 early goals past the UAE who overcame Iraq 3-2 to finish third. In the final Australia were on their way to a 1-0 victory when a South Korean goal in stoppage time took the match to extra time where the hosts struck the winner to lift the Asian Cup and rise to the dizzy heights of 7th place in the world football rankings.