Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cuba conquer Caribbeans

Leading up to the end of 2012, the Caribbean Cup continued and reached its conclusion with Cuba crowned champions for the first time. Group 2 hosts St Lucia Hammered Curaçao 5-1  and defeated St Vincent and the Grenadines 1-0 but were eliminated on the head-to-head rule after suffering a 3-0 loss to Guyana who had earlier lost 2-1 to St Vincent and the Grenadines the 4-0 conquerors of Curaçao. The biggest shock came when group 7 hosts Guadeloupe lost 2-0 to Dominican Republic who finished top with a 3-1 victory over Puerto Rico while the hosts bowed out with a 3-3 draw against Martinique. Eventual group 6 winners Haiti, were stunned by a single French Guiana goal while group hosts Grenada overcame Guyana 2-1 before going out 2-0 the Haitians. In group 8 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines earned 1-1 draws against group hosts Trinidad & Tobago and eventual champions Cuba before going out to a single goal by Suriname. In the final round, hosts Antigua and Barbuda endured a demoralising defeat 2-1 to Dominican Republic before putting 2 past Trinidad and Tobago, but finishing bottom of the group after a 1-0 loss to Haiti. Jamaica were humiliated 2-1 by French Guiana and held to a goalless draw by Martinique before losing 1-0 to Cuba. Martinique topped their group after French Guiana surrendered 3-1 but runners-up Cuba went on to lift the cup with  1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago in the final. Cuba end 2012 in 98th place having moved up 36th positions in the football rankings.
In November Uzbekistan upset their Iranian hosts 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier while among friendly matches Venezuela fell 3-1 to Nigeria in Miami and Chile lost by the same scoreline to Serbia in Switzerland.      

Monday, October 29, 2012

Two busy autumn days

Another two international days saw plenty of movement around the world. Germany slaughtered Ireland 6-1 in Dublin and seemed to be on their way to another huge win when they stormed into a 4 goal lead against Sweden in Berlin, but the Swedes hit back in the last half hour to earn an incredible 4-4 draw while the Irish salvaged some pride with a 4-1 win away to the Faroe Islands. Romania returned from Turkey with a 1-0 victory only to be hammered 4-1 by the Dutch while the Turks were beaten 3-1 in Hungary. Belgium stunned their Serbian hosts with 3 goals and drew 0-0 away to the Czech Republic while the Serbs lost by a single goal in Macedonia. Cyprus were beaten 3-1 on their own turf by Norway who had drawn 1-1 in Switzerland. The Swiss went on to win 2-0 in Iceland who had returned from a 2-1 success in Albania. Israel hit Luxembourg for 6 on their travels while Lithuania scored a double in  Liechtenstein, and Ukraine returned from a goalless draw in Moldova only to suffer 1-0 at the hand of Montenegro. Wales scored late to defeat Scotland 2-1 in Cardiff and Northern Ireland picked up a 1-1 draw in Portugal while Georgia lost 2-0 in Belarus and Spain were held to a 1-1 draw at home to France who had just been beaten by Japan in a friendly match at Saint Denis. In South America, champions Uruguay continued to plummet in the rankings as they were thumped 3-0 in Argentina and humiliated 4-1 in Bolivia while Ecuador enjoyed a 3-1 home win over Chile. In North America Canada were hammered 8-1 in Honduras and in Oceania New Caledonia conquered the Solomon Islands 6-2 while in Asia there were 1-0 wins for Iran at home to South Korea and Uzbekistan away to Qatar.
There were shocks in the Caribbeans in the past month as Barbados lost 1-0 at home to the Dominican Republic who had earlier drawn 2-2 with Aruba, and French Guiana enjoyed an astonishing 3-0 triumph at St Kitts & Nevis.  
In the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Niger celebrated a 2-0 home win over Guinea while Ethiopia did the same against Sudan, and DR Congo lost 2-1 at Equatorial Guinea. Tunisia were held to a goalless draw at home to Sierra Leone while Mozambique were soundly beaten 4-0 in Morocco and Liberia were demolished 6-1 in Nigeria. Botswana whipped Mali 4-1 while Central African Republic were brushed aside 3-1 in Burkina Faso and Angola put 2 past their visitors from Zimbabwe. Ivory Coast won 2-0 in Senegal while Zambia lost 1-0 in Uganda but went through on penalties. A narrow win for Cameroon against Cape Verde was not enough to prevent the former African giants crashing out of the competition as the minnow made history by qualifying for the finals for the first time ever.
In a tournament in Myanmar, East Timor enjoyed 5-1 and 3-1 wins over Cambodia and Laos respectively while in another friendly tournament in the Philippines Guam put 3 past Macao without reply.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The road to Rio

The campaign for the 2014 World Cup got underway in Europe with the rest of the world already deeply involved. Wales began with a 2-0 home defeat to Belgium and suffered 6-1 in Serbia 4 days later while England got off to a good start with 5 goals in Moldova but were then held to a 1-1 draw by Ukraine at Wembley and the Hungarians who started with a 5 goal win in Andorra where taken apart 4-1 by the Dutch in Budapest. Iceland hosted and beat Norway 2-0 before losing to a single goal in Cyprus while there were 2-0 wins for Romania in Estonia and Switzerland in Slovenia. Israel fell 4-0 at home to Russia and Liechtenstein were battered 8-1 by Bosnia & Herzegovina in Vaduz while Luxembourg picked up a 1-1 draw in Northern Ireland as did Macedonia in Scotland. In South America, Colombia shot up the rankings after demolishing visiting South American champions Uruguay 4-0 and returning from Chile with a 3-1 victory 4 days later while Venezuela also enjoyed success on their travels with a 2-0 win in Paraguay. In Asia Iran were upset 1-0 in Lebanon and Jordan celebrated a 2-1 victory over the visiting Aussies while in Oceania Tahiti fell 2-0 at the Solomon Islands before being thumped 4-0 at home to New Caledonia. In the North American section USA were defeated 2-1 in Jamaica and Panama suffered a 1-0 loss in Canada while Mexico were victorious 2-0 in Costa Rica and Guyana enjoyed a 2-2 draw in El Salvador.
In the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Cape Verde celebrated a 2-0 victory over their illustrious visitors from Cameroon while Morocco fell by the same result in Mozambique and Togo drew 1-1 in Gabon. A single goal in Morocco gave Algeria a win over Libya while Angola lost 3-1 in Zimbabwe. In the Caribbean qualifiers the British Virgin Islands travelled to Martinique where they were demolished 16-0 by their hosts and buried 7-0 by Montserrat while Martinique went on to share 4 goals with Suriname. Puerto Rico overcame Bermuda 2-1 in Haiti before thrashing Saint Martin 9-0 at the same venue. Among friendly matches Tajikistan beat Qatar 2-1 in Germany and Ghana lost 2-0 in Liberia while the Czechs were stunned 1-0 at home to Finland. The Philippines had a mixed bag, winning 2-0 in Singapore before losing 2-1 in Laos.        

Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer warm-ups

Shortly after the conclusion of Euro 2012, Aruba hosted and won the lesser known ABCS Tournament by overcoming Curacao 3-2 and defeating Suriname 1-0 in the final. The tournament introduced Bonaire to the Football Rankings as they moved in to the 201st spot after being thumped 8-0 and 9-2 by Suriname and Curacao respectively. Another noteworthy result in July was Guam’s 3-0 victory over Macau in the East Asian Championship qualifiers played on their home soil.
In August Brazil moved up into 2nd place in the rankings with an impressive 3-0 win in Sweden while Argentina triumphed 3-1 away to Germany and Slovakia upset their Danish hosts by the same scoreline. Chile fell 3-0 in Ecuador while the U.S.A. silenced Mexico with a single goal at the Azteca and Croatia suffered a 4-2 home defeat to Switzerland. Syria’s political unrest seemed to have affected them on the pitch in the Nehru Cup as they lost 2-1 to hosts India and then to the Maldives whom they had twice demolished 12-0 in 1997.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Spain reign in Poland and Ukraine

A Spanish triumph in Euro 2012 may have been predictable but their 4-0 final win over Italy, who had defeated Germany 2-1 in the semis and whom they had drawn 1-1 against in their group, was a setback for the Italians. Russia got off to a flying start with the 4-1 hammering of the Czech Republic, but as the Czechs bounced back with a 2-1 win over Greece and a 1-0 victory against their hosts Poland, the Russians fell to a single Greek goal and found themselves flying home. The Republic of Ireland who lost their vital first match 3-1 to Croatia left the tournament with no points as did the Netherlands who had begun with a 1-0 defeat to Denmark who were themselves knocked out as a result of their 3-2 group loss to Portugal. Sweden also failed to get out of their group, despite ending on a 2-0 win against France, as they had earlier suffered a 2-1 loss to their hosts Ukraine while the French had overcome Ukraine 2-0 in Donetsk.
While the cream of Europe were occupied in Poland and Ukraine, there were World Cup qualifiers to be played in other parts of the world. In Asia Qatar were thumped 4-1 at home to South Korea before holding Iran to a goalless draw in Tehran while Japan smashed Jordan 6-0 in Saitama and in North America the outstanding results were El Salvador’s 2-2 draw in Costa Rica and Panama’s 2-0 triumph in Honduras while in South America Bolivia enjoyed a 3-1 home win over Paraguay and Chile continued their impressive run with a 2-0 win in Venezuela. In Africa Egypt overcame hosts Guinea 3-2 in a World Cup qualifier but were later stunned 3-2 at home to Central African Republic in a 2013 continental qualifier while among other World Cup qualifiers Sudan played a goalless match in Lesotho and Cameroon lost 2-1 in Libya. In the Oceania Cup/World Cup qualifier hosts Solomon Islands lost their semi-final match 1-0 to Tahiti who lifted the trophy with a single-goal win over New Caledonia. New Zealand plummeted further in the rankings after their 2-0 humiliation to New Caledonia in the other semi-final match.                        

Thursday, June 07, 2012

World awaits the Euros

In the months leading up to Euro 2012 a limited number of international matches were played with the Philippines excelling in the rankings after defeating India 2-0, Tajikistan 2-1 and finally overcoming Palestine 4-3 in Nepal to finish 3rd in the AFC Challenge Cup, but as June approached, the world sprang into action with preparatory matches for the Euro 2012 participants and World Cup qualifiers for other FIFA members. In European friendly matches the Netherlands suffered a shock 2-1 loss to Bulgaria and Germany were sunk 5-3 away to the Swiss while Italy were routed 3-0 by Russia in Zurich. Portugal were held to a goalless draw at home to Macedonia and later stunned 3-1 by non qualifiers Turkey who went on to conquer co hosts Ukraine 2-0 in Germany while the Czech Republic lost 2-1 to the visiting Magyars. Latvia went on to beat Finland on penalties and win the Baltic Cup after having belittled Lithuania 5-0 in Estonia.
In World Cup qualifiers Iran picked up 3 vital points with a stoppage-time goal in Uzbekistan while in South America champions Uruguay were brought down to earth with a 1-1 draw at home to Venezuela. Argentina eased past Ecuador 4-0 and Colombia scored a single goal to win in Peru while Brazil lost a friendly 2-0 to Mexico in the U.S.A. New Zealand may have beaten Honduras 1-0 in an American friendly, but their narrow 1-0 and 2-1 wins over Fiji and Papua New Guinea in the Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup qualifiers held on the Solomon Islands were far less impressive while Tahiti defeated 9-man New Caledonia 4-3 before hammering Vanuatu - who had already lost 5-2 to New Caledonia - 4-1 to top their group.
In Africa, Sudan celebrated a 2-0 home triumph over Zambia, and Central African Republic enjoyed the same success over Botswana while Cape Verde lost 2-1 in Sierra Leone and Mali lost to a single goal in Benin. Ethiopia picked up a dazzling 1-1 draw in South Africa and Uganda achieved the same result in Angola.          

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Asia chooses top ten

On the day that Asia filtered its World Cup hopefuls down to 10 and Africa began opened its path towards the 2013 Cup of Nations, there were friendly matches taking place in other corners of the globe.
Uzbekistan finished above Asian champions Japan with a shock 1-0 win in Toyota as both teams progressed to the next round with Japan losing top Asian spot in the rankings while Bahrain’s 10-0 routing of Indonesia was in vein as Qatar drew 2-2 in Iran. North Korea bowed out of the World Cup with a 1-1 draw in Tajikistan while down and out China finished with a 3-1 home win against Jordan and the United Arab Emirates ended their miserable campaign with a 4-2 win at home to already qualified Lebanon. Iraq sank Singapore 7-1 in Qatar.
In Africa Sao Tome & Principe celebrated a 2-1 home win against Sierra Leone and Cape Verde returned from Madagascar with a 4-0 victory while Uganda lost 3-1 away to Congo and Chad overcame Malawi 3-2 in their home match. A single goal gave Liberia a home win against Namibia while Burundi defeated their visitors from Zimbabwe 2-1 and Algeria won by the same scoreline in Gambia.
Among friendly matches the U.S.A. triumphed 1-0 on Italian soil while Germany lost 2-1 at home to France and Colombia defeated Mexico 2-0 in Miami. Turkey surrendered 2-1 at home to Slovakia and Russia defeated Denmark 2-0 in Copenhagen while Palestine stunned Azerbaijan 2-0 in Dubai.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Zambia flying high in Africa

A penalty shootout against the Ivory Coast in Libreville Gabon - close to the scene of the 1993 plane crash that claimed the lives of the entire Zambian squad travelling to a World Cup qualifier against Senegal - landed Zambia the Africa Cup of Nations. Ironically their campaign began with a 2-1 victory over Senegal who turned out to have a disastrous tournament dropping 38 places in the rankings after further 2-1 defeats to co hosts Equatorial Guinea and lowly ranked Libya. Equatorial Guinea started with a 1-0 win over Libya and reached the knockout stage while the other co hosts Gabon who had defeated Tunisia 1-0 were finally knocked out on penalties by Mali who had got the better of Guinea with a single goal in their group and finished 3rd in Africa with a 2-0 triumph over Ghana. The biggest scoreline was the 6-1 battering of Botswana by Guinea who also held Ghana to a 1-1 draw. Burkina Faso finished bottom of their group after losing 2-1 to Angola and Sudan. The impressive Sudanese later came unstuck 3-0 against Zambia who went on to defeat the Black Stars of Ghana 1-0 securing their final clash with the Elephants. In the qualifiers for next year’s Cup of Nations Lesotho lost 1-0 at Sao Tome & Principe and could only manage a goalless draw in the return match.