Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bumpy road to Russia

The 2018 World Cup fired its starting pistol with huge shocks in the Asia and Caribbean qualifiers right from the start, while the quest to France continued in Europe.
A rare win for Bhutan shocked the world of football as the Bhutanese not only stunned Sri Lanka with a single away goal but went on to celebrate a 2-1 victory in the return match and progress from the preliminary round while little Brunei, who silenced their Taiwanese hosts 1-0, came unstuck 2-0 on their return home. East Timor did enough in their home match as they mangled Mongolia 4-1 while Cambodia who were held to a 1-1 draw in Macau also progressed on the strength of their home win and Yemen who played both their matches against Pakistan on neutral grounds went through despite the Pakistanis holding them to a goalless draw in Bahrain.
In the Caribbean zone Barbados were dumbfounded 1-0 at home by the US Virgin Islands, but hit back with 4 in their away fixture while the Cayman Islands, who blanked out Belize in Belmopan, went out on the away goals rule after a heroic 1-1 home draw. The British Virgin Islands, who lost narrowly 1-0 away to Antigua and Barbuda in a friendly, made life difficult for Dominica who were playing both legs of their qualifiers at home losing only 3-2 and drawing 0-0 in their second match. Montserrat also showed improvement losing only 2-1 in Curacao and drawing their home match 2-2 to move up in the football rankings. Honduras were shocked 3-1 away to French Guiana in a Gold Cup playoff match but overturned the outcome with a 3-0 win in the return fixture.
Wales struck 3 times in Israel in the Euro qualifier and Belgium put 5 past their Cypriot visitors while Austria enjoyed a 5-0 win in Liechtenstein and Iceland hit 3 in Kazakhstan.
Both the Czech Republic and the Netherlands scored last-minute goals on home soil to earn 1-1 draws denying Latvia and Turkey respectively was would have been famous victories while Greece were held to a goalless draw in Hungary and Italy drew 2-2 in Bulgaria. Belarus won 2-1 in Macedonia and Sweden struck twice in Moldova without reply while Romania could only manage a single goal at home to the Faroe Islands and Azerbaijan put 2 past their Maltese visitors.  
Among friendly matches Cape Verde celebrated a 2-0 victory over their Portuguese hosts while Iran enjoyed the same result against Chile in Austria and Uganda won 1-0 away to Nigeria. Brazil beat France 3-1 in Paris and Ghana lost 2-1 in Senegal while Equatorial Guinea drew 1-1 away to African champions Ivory Coast and Guam shared 4 goals with hosts Singapore. Gabon got the better of Mali 4-3 in France and Algeria romped to a 4-1 win in Oman while Niger lost 2-0 in Mauritania and Kazakhstan drew 0-0 in Russia.