Friday, April 02, 2021

Silent start


The World Cup qualifiers in Europe and CONCACAF kicked off mostly behind closed doors. Germany suffered a rare home defeat, losing 2-1 to North Macedonia while the Irish Republic were stunned 1-0 at home to Luxembourg. Burak Yilmaz scored a hat-trick as Turkey celebrated a 4-2 victory at home to the Netherlands, but after a 3-0 win over Norway in Spain, the Turks returned home to let a 2 goal lead slip and draw 3-3 with Latvia. Ukraine began their three-match week with an impressive 1-1 draw against world champions France in Paris, but their pride was shattered with 1-1 home draws against Finland and Kazakhstan. Denmark capped a good week with a 4-0 win in Austria while Armenia also rose in the football rankings after sending Iceland packing with a 2-0 loss and coming from behind to beat Romania 3-2 in Yerevan.  Greece earned a creditable 1-1 draw in Spain, but their 1-1 draw at home to Georgia was less than impressive while Slovakia, who came from 2 down to salvage a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Malta, defeated their Russian visitors 2-1 a few days later. Croatia lost 1-0 in Slovenia who were 1-0 losers in Cyprus while Sweden won 3-0 in Kosovo.

In the CONCACAF section, Montserrat achieved 2-2 and 1-1 draws in Curacao against Antigua & Barbuda and El Salvador respectively while Anguilla managed to lose only 1-0 to Barbados in the Dominican Republic and US Virgin Islands lost by the same low score away to Grenada. Puerto Rico achieved a 1-1 draw in Trinidad & Tobago.

The Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers came to a conclusion with Comoros making it to the finals for the first time after a goalless draw at home to Togo. The Cape Verde Islands enjoyed a 3-1 victory over their visitors from Cameroon while Madagascar were hammered 4-0 in Ethiopia and drew 0-0 at home to Niger, losing out on qualification. Gabon enjoyed a 3-0 win at home to DR Congo but lost 2-0 in Angola and Tunisia were 5-2 winners in Libya while Congo were 3-0 losers at Guinea Bissau. Eswatini drew 1-1 in Senegal and the Central African Republic lost 1-0 at home to Mauritania while Zimbabwe qualified with a 1-0 win in Botswana but finished off with a 2-0 defeat at home to Zambia. Namibia were awarded a 3-0 win away to Chad who were disqualified due to government interference.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Europe clear


As the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in South America and the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers continued, Euro 2020 played out the play-off matches to put its final pieces together and the European Nations League concluded its group matches to produce its 4 semi-finalists.

In World Cup qualifiers, Colombia had a disastrous week losing 3-0 at home to Uruguay before being humiliated 6-1 in Ecuador. The Uruguayans returned home to lose 2-0 to Brazil while Bolivia drew 2-2 in Paraguay and Argentina were 2-0 winners in Peru.

In the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Alex Iwobi scored twice for Nigeria who took a 4 goal lead at home to Sierra Leone but the visitors hit back with a brace from Alhaji Kamara to earn a 4-4 draw while Equatorial Guinea struck twice in stoppage time to win 3-2 in Libya and Burundi drew 1-1 in Mauritania before winning the reverse fixture 3-1 with a double from Saidi Ntibazonkiza. South Sudan upset Uganda 1-0 in Kenya while Ghana were stunned 1-0 in Sudan and DR Congo were 1-0 winners in Angola. Niger lost 3-0 in Ethiopia and Egypt won 3-1 in Togo while Cameroon scored twice without reply in Mozambique, but Algeria could not hold on to their 2-goal lead and were pegged back to 2-2 in Zimbabwe.

North Macedonia qualified for Euro 2020 with a 1-0 victory in Georgia and Slovakia celebrated a 2-1 extra-time win in Northern Ireland while Scotland needed a penalty shootout to get past their Serbian hosts and join Hungary in the finals as play-off winners.

In the European Nations League Armenia defeated their Georgian hosts 2-1 before celebrating promotion to league B with a 1-0 win over North Macedonia in Cyprus while Hungary, who are one of the highest movers of the year in the football rankings, celebrated promotion to the top league after Russia were humiliated 5-0 in Serbia for whom Luka Jovic netted twice.

In friendly matches Nepal lost 2-0 in Bangladesh and Jamaica were 2-1 winners in Saudi Arabia, but the biggest shock was Finland’s 2-0 win away to world champions France.