Friday, September 20, 2013

Rio on the horizon

Two days in early September gave a clearer picture of the teams that will be taking part in the 2014 World Cup, but there were the usual shocks adding spice to the mix and affecting the rankings. The amazing Armenians were up to it again beating the Czechs 2-1 in Prague, but their celebrations lasted only 4 days when they were beaten 1-0 at home to Denmark whom they had humiliated 4-0 in Copenhagen earlier in the summer. Bosnia & Herzegovina suffered a shock 1-0 loss at home to Slovakia but overcame the Slovaks 2-1 in the return match while the Scots lost 2-0 at home to Belgium before enjoying a 2-1 victory in Macedonia. Estonia held the Dutch to a 2-2 draw in Tallinn but were then thumped 5-1 away to Hungary who had lost 3-0 in Romania, but the biggest shock came when Romania lost 2-0 to the visiting Turks. Iceland earned a 4-4 draw in Switzerland who won 2-0 in Norway while Slovenia enjoyed the same result in Cyprus and Northern Ireland lost 3-2 in Luxembourg. Sweden upset the Irish 2-1 in Dublin and Wales lost 3-0 at home to Serbia and France won 4-2 in Belarus while in a friendly match Azerbaijan drew 1-1 in Israel.    
In South America Argentina qualified with a 5-2 win in Paraguay who had fired 4 past Bolivia without reply 4 days earlier while Uruguay enhanced their chances by winning 2-1 in Peru and 2-0 at home to Colombia. In North America Mexico's poor run continued, losing 2-1 at home to Honduras while Panama fired blanks at home to Jamaica and Costa Rica celebrated a 3-1 home win over the USA.
In Africa Cape Verde were effectively disqualified from the World Cup for fielding a suspended player after their 2-0 win in Tunisia was awarded 3-0 to their hosts while in other matches Lesotho triumphed 3-1 in Sudan, Tanzania lost 2-0 in Gambia, DR Congo were beaten 2-1 away to Togo and Ivory Coast were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Morocco.
Jordan defeated Uzbekistan on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Tashkent to qualify for the play-offs from Asia.