Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reggae Boyz celebrate end of 2008

The final of the Caribbean Cup marked the end of the year for most countries as Asia and Oceania had already played their last competitive matches of the year in November with Fiji celebrating a 2-0 victory at home to group winners New Zealand, and Japan enjoying a 3-0 win away to Qatar. Saudi Arabia ended the year badly with a 2-0 home loss to South Korea.
In the North American and Caribbean section of the World Cup qualifiers, Costa Rica won 3-1 in El Salvador while Canada found the going tough in Jamaica where they were defeated 3-0.
Europe played out friendly matches with Wales winning 1-0 in Denmark, and Hungary registering a 2-0 victory in Northern Ireland. England continued their ascension of the Football Rankings with a 2-1 triumph in Germany.
In the Caribbean Cup Haiti narrowly missed out on progress to the semi-finals as they could only manage a 1-1 draw against Antigua & Barbuda, and were beaten 3-2 by Guadeloupe with a goal in the last minute sealing their fate and rendering their 1-0 win over Cuba ineffective. Grenada were the surprise package of the tournament beating Trinidad and Tobago on their way to the semi-finals where they overcame Cuba on penalties to reach the final and a meeting with hosts Jamaica. Luton Shelton converted a penalty in each half as the Reggae Boyz lifted the Caribbean Cup on home soil (pictured).

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An early winter break

After a busy week in October, Europe and South America took a winter break from World Cup qualifiers with Spain, England and the Netherlands maintaining their unblemished records. Serbia followed their 3-0 home win against Lithuania with a 3-1 victory in Austria while Switzerland enjoyed a 2-1 triumph in Greece and ten-man Albania returned from Portugal with a creditable goalless draw.
A thunderbolt from Robinho helped Brazil destroy Venezuela 4-0, but on their return home a few days later the Brazilians could only draw 0-0 with Colombia while Venezuela bounced back to treat their crowd to a 3-1 win over Ecuador. Chile recorded a rare victory over Argentina winning 1-0 at home and Bolivia were unbeaten in La Paz after beating Peru 3-0 and sharing 4 goals with Uruguay.
In North America the top guns found the going tough as Mexico lost 1-0 in Jamaica while Trinidad and Tobago defeated their American visitors 2-1 and Cuba sent Guatemala back with the same result.
Senegal reached the end of the road after a dismal 1-1 draw at home to Gambia. In other African matches Burkina Faso finished top of their group after a 3-1 win in Burundi and Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor scored 4 times as Togo thrashed Swaziland 6-0 in Ghana. Zimbabwe suffered a 4-2 loss away to Namibia.
In Asia Japan dropped points at home with a 1-1 draw against Uzbekistan. Matches in Asia and North America will continue in November. The full rankings can be seen at www.rankfootball.com

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Paving the way to South Africa

With the European Championships which excelled the victorious Spaniards to top spot in Mark’s Rankings in June and the Olympic Games in Beijing later on taking centre stage, Egypt would hope that their humiliating 4-0 friendly defeat in August away to Sudan had gone unnoticed, but there were also important World Cup qualifiers being played in which Suriname gained a 2-2 draw in Haiti while Trinidad and Tobago enjoyed a 3-1 win in Cuba. In the Caribbean Cup qualifiers Antigua & Barbuda whipped Bermuda 4-0 on the Cayman Islands, and after a disappointing 0-0 draw against Aruba, Netherlands Antilles showed much improvement in their next home match to register a 2-0 victory over Grenada.
A short spell in September saw the World Cup qualifiers in Europe get well and truly underway with Lithuania producing the first shock of the campaign winning 3-0 in Romania. Austria enjoyed a 3-1 home win against France, and Iceland held Norway to a 2-2 draw in Oslo. England put their recent disappointments against Croatia behind them with a 4-1 triumph in Zagreb, and 2 late goals gave Denmark a 3-2 victory in Portugal. The Swiss crowd were stunned by a 2-1 defeat to Luxembourg, while Bosnia & Herzegovina ran riot at home with the 7-0 destruction of Estonia.
In South America Colombia went from bad to worse at home losing 1-0 to Uruguay and 4-0 to Chile. Brazil who had earlier enjoyed a 3-0 win in Chile were held to a goalless draw at home to Bolivia who were reduced to 10 men for most of the 2nd half.
In Africa Uganda suffered a 3-1 loss in Niger, and Chad defeated Sudan 2-1 in Egypt before going down 3-1 in the same fixture 4 days later. The most notable result in Asia was the 3-0 victory of the United Arab Emirates at home to Uzbekistan.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Early summer matches

While the battle for European supremacy was taking place in Europe, the rest of the world had their eyes on the 2010 World Cup. Trinidad and Tobago scraped through to the next round of the North, Central America and Caribbean section with a 2-0 win in Bermuda after having suffered a shock 2-1 defeat in their home match, while El Salvador forgot about their 1-0 loss in Panama with a 3-1 win in the return match. Puerto Rico held Honduras to a 2-2 draw but went out after losing 4-0 in Honduras. Netherlands Antilles managed a 0-0 draw in Haiti but fell to a single goal at home, while Suriname followed up their 1-0 home-leg win with a 2-1 victory in Guyana.
In South America Paraguay playing with 10 men for most of the match celebrated a 2-0 home triumph against Brazil but crashed down from their dizzy heights losing 4-2 in Bolivia.
Round 3 group matches were completed in Asia with 10 teams progressing to the next round. Having registered a 1-0 win in China, Qatar joined Australia in the next round by eliminating champions Iraq whom they beat 1-0 at home in the final day. China finished bottom of the group despite a 1-0 victory in Australia. The United Arab Emirates lost 3-1 at home to Syria, but pipped them to the post on goal difference. The most entertaining match of this round took place in Singapore where the hosts were overrun 7-3 by Uzbekistan.
While the bigger boys in Asia were in action, the South Asian Cup took place in Sri Lanka where little Bhutan enjoyed a fairly good run including a 3-1 win over Afghanistan, a 1-1 draw with Bangladesh.
In Africa Burkina Faso returned from Tunisia with a 2-1 victory while Seychelles held on to a 0-0 draw in Burundi. Kenya earned 2 home wins beating both Guinea and Zimbabwe 2-0, while Gabon enjoyed the same result against Ghana. Egypt and Morocco did not travel well as they lost 1-0 to Malawi and 3-1 to Rwanda respectively. South Africa were beaten 1-0 in Sierra Leone and could only draw 0-0 in their return match. In other matches Uganda defeated Angola 3-1 and Togo lost 2-1 in Swaziland.
All the above mentioned teams were big movers in the Football Rankings for the month of June.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Getting ready for Euro 2008

With Euro 2008 just around the corner, participating teams cautiously prepared for the competition with friendly matches late May and early June.
Group A - Co hosts Switzerland will kick off the tournament having kept a clean sheet in their 2 recent matches against Slovakia 2-0 and Liechtenstein 3-0. After beating Lithuania 2-0 the Czech Republic bid farewell to their fans with a strong second-half performance in their 3-1 win over Scotland. Turkey played 3 matches in Germany where they lost 3-2 to Uruguay, but were victorious against European oppositions beating Slovakia 1-0 and Finland 2-0. Portugal also played in Germany where they put 2 past Georgia without reply.
Group B – Co hosts Austria showed most promise with a 1-1 draw against Nigeria and the 5-1 thrashing of Malta. Germany did not show their usual power, losing a 2 goal home lead to draw 2-2 with Belarus, but ended their preparations with a 2-1 victory over Serbia. Croatia were also less than convincing in their 1-0 home win over Moldova and 1-1 draw in Hungary. Poland travelled to Germany where they shared 2 goals with Macedonia and managed a 1-0 win over Albania before returning home for a 1-1 draw against Eruo 2008 absentees Denmark.
Group C – The French preparation had a South American flavour with Ecuador, Paraguay and Colombia visiting France. Failing to penetrate the French resistance goals were scarce as France registered 2 against Ecuador and 1 from the spot against Colombia. World champions Italy settled for 0ne friendly match in which they defeated Belgium 3-1 in Florence. The Dutch enjoyed a 3-0 win over Ukraine before drawing 1-1 with Denmark and beating Wales 2-0, whereas Romania’s only test resulted in a 4-0 victory over Montenegro in Bucharest.
Group D – Reigning European champions Greece defeated Cyprus 2-0 but will be defending their title after a 3-2 loss in Hungary. Russia smashed 6 past Kazakhstan without reply, before flying off to Germany where they continued their winning streak with wins against Serbia 2-1 and Lithuania 4-1. Spain needed a late goal to beat Peru 2-1 and a single goal to get the better of the USA. Sweden did enough to beat Slovenia 1-0 but were left with plenty to ponder after suffering a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of Ukraine.
Euro 2008 will take place in Switzerland and Austria June 7th-29th. Full reports can be read at footballreporter.co.uk

Monday, March 31, 2008

Spring rolls on

With spring arriving in most parts of the world friendly and competitive matches took place. In Asia none of the top teams managed a win on the road to the 2010 World Cup finals. Uzbekistan trounced Saudi Arabia 3-0 while champions Iraq were beaten 2-0 away to Qatar and Japan were defeated 1-0 in Bahrain.
The Caribbean teams concluded their first round knockout matches taking the overall winners to the next stage where teams from North America will join the mix. Puerto Rico eliminated Dominican Republic with a goal in extra time in a one-off match at home to continue their move up the rankings. Netherlands Antilles got the better of Nicaragua with a 2-0 win after losing the away leg 1-0. Belize drew 1-1 away to St Kitts & Nevis, going through on the strength of their 3-1 home win, and Bermuda sailed past Cayman Islands with a 3-1 victory after only managing a 1-1 home draw. Bahamas scraped past British Virgin Islands on the away goals rule with 2 draws despite playing both legs at home.
In friendly matches across the globe, 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa showed formidability on home soil with a satisfying 3-0 win over Paraguay while Liberia won 2-0 in Sudan. Poland offered little resistance against the Americans, losing 3-0 at home, and Morocco dazzled Belgium 4-1 in Brussels. Tunisia beat Ivory Coast 2-0 in France while Germany flattened Switzerland 4-0 in Basel. Michael Mifsud scored 5 times in Malta’s 7-1 thrashing of Liechtenstein, while Iceland enjoyed a 2-1 win away to Slovakia

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Pharaohs reign in Africa

The 2008 Africa Cup of Nations took place in Ghana January 20th to February 10th. The hosts who were in group A, kicked of f the tournament against Guinea and had to rely on a last minute screamer from Sulley Muntari to earn 3 points with a 2-1 win. Namibia fell apart against Morocco losing 5-1 with Aloudi grabbing 3 in the first half, but showed much improvement in their next matches losing only 1-0 to Ghana and earning a point in their 1-1 draw against Guinea who had already overcome Morocco 3-2. The Moroccans found themselves packing their bags after losing 2-0 to Ghana who progressed with full points along with Guinea.
In group B after beating Nigeria 1-0, Ivory Coast found the going easy and topped the group with 4-1 and 3-0 victories against Benin and Mali respectively. Mali who drew 0-0 with Nigeria, lost out to them on goal difference and were eliminated despite bagging 4 points along the way.
In group C Egypt began the defence of their title with an impressive 4-2 win over Cameroon and went on to win the group despite a 1-1 draw against Zambia. After their disappointing defeat to Egypt, Cameroon came back to thrashed Zambia 5-1 and put 3 past Sudan without reply. Sudan who lost all 3 matches 3-0 were the only team, together with group B losers Benin, to finish without a single point.
In group D the decisive matches were played on the 2nd day when Tunisia and Angola triumphed 3-1 over South Africa and Senegal respectively. All the other matches in the group were drawn, leaving Tunisia ahead of Angola by virtue of goals scored.
The quarter-finals saw the dreams of Guinea shattered 5-0 by the Elephants of Ivory coast, while the Super Eagles of Nigeria flew home after losing 2-1 to hosts Ghana. The Pharaohs of Egypt continued their path with a 2-1 win over Angola, and the indomitable Lions of Cameroon needed extra time to overcome Tunisia 3-2.
In the semi-finals Egypt demolished 2006 finalists Ivory Coast 4-1, and Ghana reached the end of the road losing by a single goal to Cameroon.
Ghana picked up the consolation prize of third place with a satisfying 4-2 win over Ivory Coast.
Egypt lifted the trophy with Aboutrika scoring the only goal of the final against Cameroon.
Full match reports and pictures can be enjoyed at: http://www.footballreporter.co.uk/africa2008/index.html

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The beginning of 2008

The year started with several friendly matches leading up to the Africa Cup of Nations and the February 6th international day. Puerto Rico started the year well, with 2-0 and 1-0 wins away to Bermuda followed by a 2-2 draw at home to Trinidad & Tobago who continued to be disappointing, as did Kuwait who played 5 matches including a 2-0 loss to Singapore before losing a World Cup qualifier by the same score line. In other qualifiers, Syria managed a 0-0 draw in Iran who have yet to score this year, while Asian champions Iraq drew their home match against China 1-1 on neutral soil. North Korea and Bahrain registered 1-0 wins away to Jordan and Oman respectively. In CONCACAF Belize enjoyed a 3-1 win over St Kitts & Nevis in Guatemala, while Netherlands Antilles returned from Nicaragua with a 1-0 win and St Lucia suffered a surprising 2-1 defeat away to the Turks & Caicos Islands.
In some of the friendly matches Poland beat the Czech Republic 2-0 in Cyprus, while Croatia lost their unbeaten home record 3-0 at the hands of the Netherlands. Latvia had an impressive 3-1 win away to Georgia, and Honduras scored twice without reply at home to Paraguay.
Germany were to highest team in the Rankings to move after their 3-0 win away to Austria while Norway enjoyed the same result at home to Norway.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The big movers of 2007

As 2007 came to an end newly crowned kings of Asia, Iraq, will look back with the fondest memories, though Guadeloupe who are not even a member of FIFA were the biggest movers of the year in Marks Rankings having taken part in the Gold Cup for the first time and reached the semi-finals. Haiti also had a successful year, lifting the Caribbean Cup with their final win against Trinidad & Tobago who in contrast slipped down the rankings. Cameroon did not live up to expectations in their build up to the African Cup of Nations due to take place in Ghana in 2008. Among the top teams, Spain and Paraguay rose the most while Denmark and Ukraine had a disappointing year. Other teams to do badly were Angola, Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Iceland, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Egypt whereas Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Panama, Uzbekistan, Mozambique and Northern Ireland exceeded expectations. Brazil stay top of the pile having successfully defended their Copa America Title in Venezuela.