Friday, December 31, 2010
The year ends in Asia
Friday, November 19, 2010
No rest in November
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Action in autumn
|Anguilla score in shock win|
There were 2 rounds of European qualifiers in which Serbia were humiliated at home 3-1 by Estonia and had their next match abandoned after only 6 minutes due to crowd trouble in Italy. Armenia celebrated a 3-1 home victory over Slovakia and the Russians returned from Ireland with a 3-2 success while Wales lost 1-0 at home to Bulgaria. Turkey were stunned 1-0 in Azerbaijan and the Montenegrins are yet to concede a goal in their group after holding England to a goalless draw at Wembley.
The African qualifiers produced several upsets with the Central African Republic’s 2-0 home triumph over Algeria and Egypt’s 1-0 defeat in Niger among the biggest. Benin enjoyed a 3-0 win in Rwanda while DR Congo drew 1-1 in Cameroon and Sudan held their Ghanaian hosts to a goalless draw. In other African matches Nigeria lost 1-0 in Guinea and Ethiopia won by a single goal away to Madagascar.
A host of friendly matches took place in Asia with Bahrain having mixed fortunes, winning 3-1 in Kuwait before losing 4-2 at home to Uzbekistan. The UAE lost 2-0 to the visiting Angolans while Vietnam were defeated 3-1 in India and the Philippines drew 1-1 away to Taiwan.
Friday, September 10, 2010
First steps for Europe and Africa
In Africa Sierra Leone picked up a 1-1 draw in Egypt while the Central African Republic returned from Morocco with a goalless draw and Malawi shared 4 goals with their hosts Tunisia. Guinea Bissau defeated their visitors from Kenya 1-0 while Angola lost 3-0 in Uganda and Congo surrendered 2-0 in Sudan. Senegal enjoyed a 4-2 win in DR Congo and Guinea won 4-1 in Ethiopia while Burundi drew 1-1 in Benin and Tanzania returned from Algeria with a creditable 1-1 draw.
In friendly matches world champions Spain were thumped 4-1 in Argentina while Mexico lost 2-1 at home to Ecuador and Iran won 2-0 in China and 1-0 in South Korea.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
The start of a new era
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
The ups and downs of the 2010 World Cup
Movement among the top teams can be minimal but telling.
Newly crowned world champions Spain were already at the top of the rankings but gained sufficient points to build a substantial gap between themselves and the rest of the pack.
The nearly-men of the Netherlands moved up one place into 2nd and should be happy with their showing once the dust of their disappointing but deserved defeat in the final has settled.
Germany performed well and moved up 2 places into 3rd while Brazil who were knocked out in the quarter-finals moved down 2 places into 4th.
Argentina who struggled to qualify for the finals seemed to have come good until they were derailed by Germany, but moved up one position and should be relatively content with their progress.
Portugal were narrowly beaten by Spain, but moved up 3 places having annihilated North Korea 7-0 and held Brazil to a goalless draw to negotiate a difficult group.
Chile reached the round of 16 and may have done better had they not been swept aside by Brazil, but keep their 7th spot.
Uruguay may have finished 4th in the world but only moved 4 places up into 8th as their path towards the semi was not so demanding.
England moved down 5 places after a disappointing World Cup, though for some reason they moved up one place in the FIFA rankings.
Mexico moved down 2 places having failed to win their group and consequently losing to Argentina in the next round.
Paraguay climbed 5 places having won their group and reached the quarter-finals where in a tight game they were beaten 1-0 by Spain.
Serbia were disappointed not to reach the next round despite a win over Germany in their first match and moved down 4 places.
Switzerland narrowly missed out on the next round but moved up 10 places and will be remembered for their shock win over eventual champions Spain.
Italy sank 10 places after losing their crown and finishing bottom of their group.
USA topped their group and were beaten by Ghana in extra time moving them up 4 places in the rankings.
Japan, who had not been doing well leading up to the World Cup, did Asia proud in the tournament going out on penalties against Paraguay after beating Cameroon and Denmark in the group stage and moving up 20 places in the process. Ghana, the brilliant stars of Africa who set the continent alight and were a penalty away from making it into the top 4 moved up 23 places in the rankings. South Korea moved down 3 places having had a mediocre tournament scraping through their group only to be knocked out at the next stage.
Slovenia also moved down 3 places after narrowly missing out on a place in the round of 16.
Ivory Coast did not get past the group stage but moved up 10 places having held their own in a difficult group.
Slovakia moved up 3 places and will remember fondly their 3-2 win over reigning champions Italy though they went out to the Dutch in the next round. France moved down 12 places having finished bottom of their group. Australia started poorly but improved in every match finally going out on goal difference after their win against Serbia and moving up 5 places. Greece dropped 7 places and went home disappointed after losing the match and second place to South Korea.
Honduras can be relatively happy with their point against the Swiss though they finished bottom of their group as expected and did not move in the rankings. Denmark moved down 13 places after being beaten convincingly by Japan in the decisive group match.
Nigeria may have finished last in their group but would have qualified had they not missed a sitter in their last match against South Korea and move up 4 places.
South Africa hosted the tournament and moved up a place having gone out on goal difference with a win over France.
Cameroon lost all 3 matches and 2 positions in the rankings. Algeria held England to a goalless draw and were beaten narrowly in their other matches to move up 12 places.
North Korea seemed to have given everything against Brazil but moved down 8 places after falling apart against Portugal and Ivory Coast.
New Zealand were one of the success stories of the World Cup moving up 23 places after ending the tournament without losing a match having drawn against Slovakia, Paraguay and Italy.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Predicting the 2010 World Cup
Monday, May 31, 2010
There May be clues
The month of May just before a World Cup is a time when players whose countries have qualified for the finals hope to avoid injury but impress their managers for selection. Results in May can give some indication of the strengths and weaknesses that the teams will take into the World Cup, but ultimately their performance on the big stage is what counts.
Teams not playing in the World Cup were also in action.
Friday, March 05, 2010
March to South Africa
Thursday, February 04, 2010
Focus on Africa
Group A – The hosts opened the tournament with 4 goals against Mali, but were pegged back to a 4-4 draw in the last 11 minutes with 2 of the goals coming deep into stoppage time. Algeria suffered a shock 3-0 defeat to Malawi, but having won their next match progressed to the next round, ahead of a an unlucky Mali team who won their last match 3-1 against Malawi, with a goalless draw against their hosts who had also won their 2nd match and topped the group.
Group B – Togo were disqualified for pulling out of the competition after the fatal attack on their bus, leaving the group with only 3 teams. Ivory Coast were held to a goalless draw by Burkina Faso, but after a creditable 3-1 win over Ghana went through together with the Ghanaians who beat Burkina Faso with the only goal the Burkinabe conceded in the tournament.
Group C – Egypt opened with a 3-1 win over Nigeria in the top-of-the-table clash with both teams keeping clean sheets in their subsequent wins over Benin and Mozambique.
Group D – In a tightly fought group Gabon who stunned Cameroon with a 1-0 win in their opening match were unlucky not to make it to the next round having finished on identical points and goal difference to Zambia and Cameroon.
Quarter finals – The participation of hosts Angola came to an end losing 1-0 to Ghana, and Nigeria knocked Zambia out on penalties. Favourites Ivory Coast were sent packing after losing 3-2 to Algeria in extra time while Cameroon fell 3-1 to reigning champions Egypt in another match that needed 30 extra minutes to separate the teams.
Semi finals – A single goal against Nigeria was enough to send Ghana to the final where they were to meet Egypt who avenged their World Cup play-off defeat by thrashing an ill-disciplined Algerian side that finished the match with 8 men.
Final matches - Nigeria beat Algeria 1-0 to finish 3rd while Egypt won the Africa Cup of Nations for the 3rd time in succession with a 1-0 victory over Ghana to make them the highest team in rankfootball not to qualify for the World Cup.
A comprehensive report on all the matches can be found at footballreporter.co.uk.
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
A look back at the noughties
Brazil had begun the millennium in top spot but lost 3-0 to Chile in a World Cup qualifier and lost out to France who were crowned champions of Europe after a golden goal decided the final against Italy in Rotterdam. Japan were the biggest movers of the year finishing 14th in the world after becoming Asian champions with a 1-0 final win against Saudi Arabia in Lebanon.
2001 saw Australia score 53 goals in 2 days, hammering Tonga 22-0 and then smashing their own world record by demolishing American Samoa 31-0 two days later in another World Cup qualifier. Brazil had a disastrous year and ended up in 20th place after losing to Ecuador, France, Australia, Uruguay, Mexico, Honduras, Argentina and Bolivia. France won the Confederations Cup in Japan with a 1-0 win over their hosts while Colombia lifted the Copa America in front of their home crowd with a single goal in the final against Mexico. In ayear of ups and downs Portugal ended the year on top.
2002 was the year of the first World Cup to be played in Asia hosted jointly by Japan and South Korea which Brazil won with a 2-0 victory over Germany in the final putting their recent disappointments behind them and regain world superiority. Earlier Cameroon had beaten Senegal on penalties to claim the African crown in Mali.
2003 will be remembered for the tragic death of Cameroon player Marc-Vivien Foé, who died of heart failure in his side's semi-final match against Colombia in France. The French retained the cup with a golden goal scored by Thierry Henry in the final against Cameroon. The Czech Republic and Greece did exceptionally well to qualify directly for Euro 2004 by topping their groups ahead of The Netherlands and Spain respectively.
2004 started with Tunisia celebrating on home soil after defeating Morocco 2-1 in the final of the African Cup of Nations, but in the European equivalent Greece shocked the world by reaching the final and upsetting hosts Portugal 1-0 to win the coveted European title. Defending champions Japan retained their Asian crown beating hosts China 3-1 in the final.
2005 was about qualifying for the 2006 World Cup and getting a taste of things to come with the Confederations Cup also being held in Germany in which Brazil triumphed with the 4-1 humiliation of Argentina in the final.
2006 may have started off well for African hosts Egypt who won a penalty shootout against Ivory Coast in the African Cup of Nations final, but World Cup hosts Germany who were going through a transformation and surprisingly not favourites to do well, reached the semi finals where they fell to eventual winners Italy who defeated France on penalties in the final which will be remembered for the late dismissal of Zinedine Zidane for ramming into Materazzi just before bowing out of the game.
2007 reaffirmed Brazil’s dominance in South America when they convincingly brushed aside the much fancied Argentina 3-0 in the Copa America final hosted by Venezuela. Haiti lifted the Caribbean Cup early in the year beating hosts Trinidad & Tobago 2-1 in the final, and in Asia Iraq stunned the world of football by lifting the Asian Cup with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia in the final in Jakarta. In Europe the qualifying round for Euro 2008 reached its conclusion with England failing to reach the finals under Steve McClaren, and the attack of a Danish fan on the match referee in Copenhagen costing the Danes dearly as UEFA subsequently awarded the match 3-0 to Sweden.
2008 was the year that Spain finally got its hand on a major trophy when Fernando Torres broke the deadlock against Germany in the final of Euro 2008 hosted by Austria/Switzerland. Egypt had earlier added another African cup to their name with a 1-0 victory over Cameroon in Ghana, and towards the end of the year Jamaica won the Caribbean Cup with a 2-0 win over Grenada on home soil.
2009 Introduced South Africa to the world as they prepared for the World Cup by hosting the Confederations Cup which saw the USA miraculously reach the final and take a 2 goal lead before losing 3-2 to Brazil. The Americans also reached the final of the Gold Cup where they were hammered 5-0 by the visiting Mexicans. Among World Cup qualifiers arguably the most outstanding result of the year was Bolivia’s historic 6-1 humiliation of Diego Maradona’s Argentina.
The decade ends with a new era on the horizon as the world looks to Africa with the African Cup of Nations in January and more importantly the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa.