Friday, February 15, 2013

Nigeria soar in Africa

Central American Cup hosts Cost Rica may have been the first to be crowned in 2013, but it was Africa Cup of Nations finalists Nigeria and Burkina Faso who rose most in the early Ziaian rankings. Costa Rica won the Central American Cup with a single goal in the final against defending champions Honduras who had been held to a 1-1 draw by El Salvador and only progressed from their group on goals scored. The Costa Ricans faired slightly better in their group but were disappointing having struggled to beat Belize 1-0 and drawn 1-1 against Guatemala who had earlier been held to a 1-1 draw by Nicaragua. Belize impressed with a goalless draw against Guatemala and a 2-1 win over Nicaragua ending up in 4th place.
The Gulf Cup was won by the United Arab Emirates who defeated Iraq 2-1 in extra time by the result of the tournament was Kuwait's 6-1battering of hosts Bahrain in the 3rd place match.
The Africa Cup of Nations began with debutants Cape Verde holding hosts South Africa to a goalless draw. South Africa made amends with a 2-0 win over Angola and made it to the next round together with Cape Verde despite sharing 4 goals with Morocco in their last group match. DR Congo came from 2 down to draw with Ghana who defeated Mali 1-0 to top their group but after losing to Burkina Faso on penalties were swept aside 3-1 by Mali in the 3rd place playoff match. Algeria failed miserably losing 1-0 to Tunisia and 2-0 to Togo before salvaging some pride with a 2-2 draw against Ivory Coast who had already eased 3-0 past Tunisia. Burkina Faso topped their group ahead of Nigeria on goal difference thanks to a 4 goal routing against Ethiopia, but Nigeria knocked pre-tournament favourites Ivory Coast out 2-1 before thumping Mali 4-1 to reach the final where they defeated the Burkinabe one nil.
Among World Cup qualifiers the Americans were beaten 2-1 away to Honduras while Mexico fired blanks against their visitors from Jamaica.
In the Asian Cup qualifiers Hong Kong celebrated a goalless draw in Uzbekistan and China lost 2-1 away to Saudi Arabia while Kuwait prevailed 3-1 in Thailand and Lebanon were hammered 5-0 in Iran.
Among friendly matches Kenya defeated Libya 3-0 in Tunis and Denmark lost 3-0 away to Macedonia.