Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer shocks

Two World Cup days in June and several friendly matches produced a handful of unexpected results affecting the world rankings. Having suffered a 1-0 loss at home to Malta, Armenia pulled off one of the biggest shocks ever when they derailed Denmark 4-0 in Copenhagen while Scotland stunned Croatia with a single goal in Zagreb and Iceland lost 4-2 at home to Slovenia. Ukraine thumped their Montenegrin hosts 4-0 while Bosnia & Herzegovina did a goal better in Latvia and Sweden lost 2-1 in Austria while Luxembourg earned a 1-1 draw in Azerbaijan. Iran qualified for the World Cup as group winners after winning 1-0 in Qatar, 4-0 at home to Lebanon and securing a 1-0 victory away to South Korea who also qualified at the expense of Uzbekistan who had to settle for the play-offs after coming from behind to hammer Qatar 5-1 in Tashkent. Japan were the fist team to qualify for the World Cup after salvaging a 1-1 draw in Saitama with a last minute penalty against Australia who joined them a week later by putting 4 past Jordan in Melbourne. In South America Ecuador lost 1-0 in Peru while Chile won 2-1 in Paraguay and Colombia held Argentina to a goalless draw in Buenos Aires. In North America Mexico fired blanks at home to Costa Rica while in Africa Mali had their hopes dashed with 2 home draws 1-1 against Rwanda and 2-2 against Benin losing out to Algeria who had won 3-1 in Benin. Ethiopia * reached the play-offs by winning 2-1 in Botswana and celebrating the same result at home to South Africa who had earlier won 3-0 in the Central African Republic. Senegal strengthened their position with a vital 2 goal win in Liberia and Zambia surrendered 1-1 at home to Sudan while Togo * enjoyed a 2-0 home victory over Cameroon but where then beaten by the same scoreline away to Libya. Namibia earned a 0-0 draw in Malawi and a 1-1 draw at home to Nigeria while Niger lost 4-1 at Gabon. Guinea thrashed Mozambique 6-1 but were eliminated as Egypt triumphed 4-1 away to Zimbabwe. Among friendly matches St Vincent and the Grenadines were beaten 2-0 at home to St Lucia and Turkey lost by the same scoreline to Slovenia in Germany while Iraq lost 1-0 at home to Liberia. Estonia were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Kyrgyzstan and Haiti scored 2 late goals to share 4 goals with Italy in Brazil while Thailand celebrated an amazing 5-1 win away to China.

* Due to the use of ineligible players FIFA has awarded the following results:
Equatorial Guinea v Cape Verde 0-3, Botswana v Ethiopia 3-0, Cape Verde v Equatorial Guinea 3-0 and Togo v Cameroon 0-3. The Ziaian rankings have been updated accordingly.