Thursday, October 23, 2014

Top flops

Basking in the glory of Rio, world champions Germany were brought down to earth when they suffered their first ever defeat to Poland going down 2-0 in Warsaw and dropped further points a few days later in a 1-1 home draw against the Republic of Ireland in their Euro qualifiers which toppled them from the top of the football rankings and sent losing finalists Argentina to the top despite a 2-0 loss to Brazil in a Beijing friendly. After finishing third in the World Cup, the Dutch found the going tough in Iceland where they were hit twice by their promising hosts who had earlier conquered Latvia 3-0 in Riga while Italy only managed a 2-1 home win over Azerbaijan. Spain lost 2-1 in Slovakia but bagged 4 goals in Luxembourg while Romania who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Hungary returned from Finland with a 2-0 win and Portugal stunned their Danish hosts with a last gasp goal from Ronaldo. Ukraine won 2-0 in Belarus while Russia were held 1-1 at home to Moldova and Scotland earned a 2-2 draw in Poland. Northern Ireland triumphed 2-0 in Greece and Norway put 3 past their Maltese hosts while Croatia won by a single goal in Bulgaria and the Czechs upset the Turks 2-1 in Istanbul. Slovenia followed up their 1-0 home win over Switzerland with a 2-0 victory in Lithuania while Liechtenstein picked up a rare point in a goalless draw at home to Montenegro.
In the African qualifiers Mali were 2-0 winners in Ethiopia but suffered a shock 3-2 defeat in their return match and South Africa who won 2-0 in Congo fired blanks in their return fixture while Burkina Faso lost 2-0 in Gabon and dropped further points in a 1-1 draw at home to the Gabonese. DR Congo shocked their Ivorian hosts 4-3 while Nigeria lost 1-0 in Sudan and Togo won by a single goal in Uganda. Egypt won 2-0 in Botswana and Cape Verde lost by the same scoreline in Mozambique while Lesotho were hit for 4 in Angola. Ghana were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Guinea while Cameroon failed to get off the mark at home to Sierra Leone.
In the Caribbean qualifiers French Guiana drew 2-2 with group hosts Haiti but lost 2-1 to Saint Kitts and Nevis before qualifying for the finals with a 2-0 victory over Barbados who had earlier defeated Saint Kitts and Nevis 3-2. Haiti won the group with a 0-0 draw against Saint Kitts and Nevis in their final group match. Curacao ended the hopes of group hosts Guadeloupe with a 1-0 win to qualify behind Martinique with whom they drew 1-1 before losing 1-0 to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines while Guadeloupe were losing 2-1 to Martinique.
In friendly matches rampant Qatar put 3 past Uzbekistan without reply and thumped Lebanon 5-0 in Doha while Cambodia stunned their Taiwanese hosts 2-0 and Kuwait were 1-0 winners in Jordan. A notable result among the Southeast Asian Championship Qualifiers in Laos was the goalless draw between East Timor and Myanmar.