Saturday, December 31, 2011

Underdogs end year on a high

The final six weeks of the year produced some remarkable results at the lower end of the rankings. The lowest ranked nation, American Samoa, captured the headlines with their first ever win, beating Tonga 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier played in neighbouring Samoa and proved that their victory was no fluke by earning a 1-1 draw against the Cook Islands 2 days later at the same venue. Even the 1-0 defeat to hosts Samoa which denied them passage to the next round was a creditable result for the world minnows. Tonga bounced back from their embarrassing loss to draw 1-1 with tournament hosts Samoa and gain a 2-1 victory over the Cook Islands.
Playing in the South Asian Football Federation Cup, Afghanistan were another team to punch above their weight drawing 1-1 with hosts India and surprising Sri Lanka 3-1 on the way to the final. Nepal’s 1-0 win over Bangladesh was also noteworthy. Bahrain had a mixed month, losing a home friendly 1-0 to Palestine before brushing Iraq aside 3-0 on their way to winning the Pan Arab Games in Qatar.