Sunday, June 21, 2015

The heat is on

With the arrival of summer there were plenty of shocks in the world of football. In May, Namibia who had thumped Zimbabwe 4-1 in a group match won the COSAFA Cup in South Africa by beating Mozambique 2-0 in the final while in the Windward Islands Championships Grenada who lost 2-1 to Dominica bounced back to defeat hosts St Lucia 2-0 and avoid the wooden spoon. Curacao who got the better of Suriname 3-2 in a friendly in the Netherlands returned home to defeat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in another friendly before knocking Cuba out of the World Cup with a goalless draw at home and a 1-1 draw in Cuba.
In friendly matches in June Chad defeated Guinea 2-1 in France and world champions Germany lost 2-1 at home to the USA while Finland lost 2-0 at home to Estonia before losing by a single goal at home to Hungary in a Euro qualifier. In other Euro qualifiers Azerbaijan held hosts Norway to a goalless draw and Italy picked up a 1-1 draw in Croatia while Portugal got the better of Armenia 3-2 with a Ronaldo hat-trick in Yerevan. The Netherlands enjoyed a 2-0 win in Latvia and Slovakia won 2-1 at home to Macedonia while Austria were victorious by a goal to nil in Russia, but there were much bigger shocks in the Asian World Cup qualifiers where Guam rose in the football rankings after stunning Turkmenistan 1-0 and India 2-1 in their first home matches. Malaysia had an abysmal start in their first 2 home matches, drawing 1-1 with East Timor and being blown to pieces 6-0 by Palestine. Kyrgyzstan won 3-1 in Bangladesh and lost narrowly 2-1 to Asian champions Australia while Tajikistan, who lost 3-1 at home to Jordan, could only manage a 1-1 draw in Bangladesh. Japan fired blanks at home to Singapore who had earlier sailed past Cambodia 4-0 while Iran were held to a 1-1 draw in Turkmenistan and the UAE could only manage a single goal in East Timor. The Philippines earned 2 impressive home wins beating Bahrain 2-1 and Yemen 2-0 while Kuwait won 1-0 in Lebanon and Uzbekistan thumped 4-2 in North Korea.
In the Caribbean World Cup qualifiers St Lucia picked up an astonishing 3-1 win away to Antigua and Barbuda, but crashed down to earth 4-1 in their return leg which was also played in Antigua & Barbuda while Belize dazzled the Dominican Republic 2-1 in Santo Domingo and Bermuda earned an amazing goalless draw in Guatemala. El Salvador could only manage a 2-2 draw at St Kitts & Nevis and Guyana earned the same result at St Vincent & the Grenadines while Barbados won 2-0 away to Aruba. Grenada progressed to the next round with a 2-0 home win over Puerto Rico and Nicaragua sealed their passage with a 3-1 Victory in Suriname.  
In the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Malawi suffered a 2-1 home loss to Zimbabwe and Guinea were embarrassed by the same result in their away match against Swaziland played in Morocco while Zambia fired blanks at home to Guinea Bissau as did South Africa against Gambia. There 1-0 wins for Niger at home to Namibia and Rwanda away to Mozambique while Benin and Kenya earned 1-1 draws away to Equatorial Guinea and Congo respectively.