Saturday, November 21, 2015

Paris ready as world eyes Russia

The European qualifiers were completed while many countries across the globe were battling for places in the 2018 Russia World Cup. Hungary who had narrowly missed out on automatic qualification became the first team to claim a spot in the 2016 European Championships in Paris through the play-offs after a stunning 1-0 win in Norway which they followed up with a 2-1 victory on home soil. Sweden took a 2-1 lead to Denmark where an Ibrahimovic double gave them a 2-2 draw taking to Paris together with Ukraine and the Irish Republic who got the better of Slovenia and Bosnia & Herzegovina respectively in other play-off matches.
Meanwhile in World Cup qualifiers South American champions Chile moved down in the rankings after drawing 1-1 at home to Colombia and suffering a 3-0 loss in Uruguay while the Colombians were upset 1-0 at home to Argentina and Bolivia enjoyed a 4-2 home win over Venezuela.  
In Asia, Saudi Arabia could only manage a 0-0 draw against Palestine in Jordan but annihilated East Timor 10-0 in Dili while Jordan were stunned 1-0 in Kyrgyzstan and Oman fell 2-1 in Turkmenistan. In Africa, Rwanda suffered a shocking exit at the hands of Libya losing 1-0 in Tunisia before being swept away 3-1 on home soil while Egypt were stunned 1-0 in Chad but bounced back with 4 goals in their home match. Cape Verde lost 1-0 in Kenya but struck twice in their return match while Cameroon cruised to a 3-0 win in Niger but were held to a goalless draw at home and Algeria who drew 2-2 in Tanzania hit their visitors for 7 without reply to progress into the next round. Gabon were shocked 1-0 in Mozambique but scraped through on penalties while Ghana who were held to a goalless draw in Comoros also made it to the group stage as expected. Burundi earned a 2-2 draw in DR Congo but were eliminated having lost 3-2 at home while South Africa eased past Angola on the strength of their 3-1 away win and Tunisia defeated Mauritania 2-1 home and away. A 1-0 home victory for Equatorial Guinea against Morocco was not enough but a 2-0 home win for Burkina Faso saw them scrape through against Benin while Mali lost 2-1 in Botswana but struck twice without reply in their return match. There were 1-0 away wins for Zambia, Guinea and Uganda against Sudan, Namibia and Togo respectively with all 3 making sure of progress in their home matches while Senegal who were held to a 2-2 draw in Madagascar also sailed through after a home win.   
In the CONCOCAF section Panama won 2-0 in Jamaica but lost 2-1 at home to Costa Rica while the Jamaicans enjoyed a 1-0 victory in Haiti in group B and Guatemala travelled to St Vincent and the Grenadines to thump their hosts 4-0 in group C.
Among friendly matches Estonia defeated Georgia 3-0 in Tallinn and Russia lost 3-1 at home to Croatia while Austria fell 2-1 at home to neighbours Switzerland and Lebanon won 1-0 in Macedonia who had earlier battered Montenegro 4-1 on the same ground. A single goal gave New Zealand a win in Oman and Greece lost 1-0 in Luxembourg while Albania drew 2-2 in Kosovo.