Friday, September 11, 2015

French doors open

England became the first team to qualify for France 2016 and were followed by the Czech Republic, Iceland and Austria a day later with several teams teetering on the brink of qualification after 6 days of European matches. The Netherlands were left in the cold after losing 1-0 at home to Iceland and being humiliated 3-0 in Turkey and now face an uphill battle to reach the playoffs ahead of the Turks who will rue their 1-1 home draw against Latvia if the Dutch prevail. The Czechs earned narrow 2-1 wins at home to Kazakhstan and away to Latvia while Iceland celebrated their first ever qualification to a major tournament after a disappointing goalless home draw with Kazakhstan. Wales kept their fans waiting after drawing blanks at home to Israel while Northern Ireland, who won 3-1 away to the Faroe Islands, endured the same outcome in group F after drawing 1-1 at home to Hungary. Romania are only 3 points ahead of Hungary after a disheartening 0-0 draw at home to bottom team Greece who had earlier lost 1-0 at home to Finland. Scotland suffered a huge blow losing to a single goal in Georgia while in group G, after picking up 3 points in a weak 1-0 home win over Moldova, Austria travelled to Sweden who were reeling from a 1-0 loss in Russia to hammer their hosts 4-1 and qualify for the Euros. In the same group Montenegro won 2-0 in Moldova and Russia slaughtered Liechtenstein 7-0 in Vaduz. In group H Norway were victorious 1-0 in Bulgaria before celebrating a 2-0 win at home to Croatia who had earlier drawn 0-0 in Azerbaijan while Italy could only manage a 1-0 home win over Malta. Albania held their Danish hosts to a goalless draw before returning home and losing to a stoppage-time goal against Portugal who had earlier lost a home friendly 1-0 to France. Slovakia lost their unbeaten record 2-0 in Spain and Macedonia lost 1-0 in Luxembourg while little San Marino came close to picking up an unlikely point but lost 2-1 to a stoppage-time goal in Lithuania.
In World Cup qualifiers in Tonga, American Samoa who had been seemingly permanently rooted to the bottom of the football rankings, defeated their hosts 2-1 before turning overt he Cook Islands 2-0 and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the next round of the Oceania section having been edged out 3-2 by Samoa in their first match, but relinquished their unenvied bottom spot in the process. Hosts Tonga completed a miserable campaign also losing 3-0 to the Cook Islands and Samoa. In Asia China and Jordan fired blanks at home to Hong Kong and Kyrgyzstan respectively while the United Arab Emirates mauled Malaysia 10-0 in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait spanked Myanmar 9-0 in Qatar. Japan could only manage a 3-0 home win over Cambodia and Uzbekistan scraped 1-0 past Yemen, but enjoyed a 5-1 win in the Philippines five days later while the Yemenis lost 4-0 to Bahrain in Qatar. Guam continued to impress with a goalless draw against their visitors from Oman while there were 4-0 and 3-0 wins for Jordan in Bangladesh and South Korea in Lebanon respectively and Iraq could only draw 2-2 in Thailand. In the CONCACAF section Jamaica were stunned 3-2 at home to Nicaragua, but prevailed 2-0 in the return match while Guatemala continued their dismal form with a 1-0 defeat at Antigua & Barbuda but turned the tie around with 2 goals in their home match. El Salvador could only manage a 1-0 home win over Curacao but progressed to the next round as did Canada who drew 1-1 in Belize and St Vincent & the Grenadines who lost 2-1 in Aruba.
In the Africa Cup of nations qualifiers Tunisia were humiliated 1-0 in Liberia and Equatorial Guinea suffered the same outcome in South Sudan while South Africa were embarrassed 3-1 in Mauritania and Niger lost 2-0 in Burundi. The Central African Republic shocked their visitors from DR Congo 2-0 and the Ivory Coast were held to a goalless draw at home to Sierra Leone while Mozambique fell 1-0 away to Mauritius and Zambia won 2-1 in Kenya.
Congo triumphed 4-2 in Guinea Bissau and Burkina Faso lost 1-0 in Botswana while Nigeria fired blanks in Tanzania and Ethiopia drew 1-1 in the Seychelles. Senegal won 2-0 in Namibia while a single goal gave Cameroon victory in Gambia and Egypt enjoyed a 5-1 win in Chad. Angola drew 0-0 in Madagascar while Guinea drew 1-1 in Zimbabwe and Malawi shared 4 goals with their hosts Swaziland.
In the Indian Ocean Island Games hosted and won by Reunion, Madagascar failed to show up against the Seychelles, but finished fourth after losing 3-1 to Mauritius who had been awarded a 3-0 win against the absent Comoros in group B. The Maldives finished bottom of group A despite a 2-1 win over Seychelles having lost 3-1 to Mayotte. In the East Asian Cup North Korea beat Japan 2-1 in China.
In friendly matches Honduras were 3-0 victors in Venezuela while Peru suffered a 2-1 loss in the USA. The American later hosted Brazil and were thumped 4-1 while there were 1-0 defeats for Uruguay away to Costa Rica and Senegal in South Africa.
Earlier in the summer the United States and Canada hosted the God Cup. The Americans  won their group but were less than convincing, having began with a 2-1 win over Honduras and ended their group matches with a 1-1 draw against 3rd in the group Panama who also progressed to the knockout stage having drawn 1-1 with Haiti in the opening match. The Haitians finished 2nd in the group with a 1-0 win over Honduras. Jamaica and Costa Rica advanced from group B having drawn their opening match 2-2 with the Jamaicans finishing above Costa Rica who drew 1-1 with El Salvador. Guatemala finished bottom of group C losing 3-1 to group winners Trinidad & Tobago and 1-0 to Cuba, but earning a shock 0-0 draw against Mexico who finished 2nd in the group after sharing an 8-goal thriller with Trinidad & Tobago. In the quarter finals Jamaica put Haiti out with a single goal while Mexico needed extra time to achieve the same against Costa Rica and Panama needed a penalty shootout to get past Trinidad & Tobago. The Americans lost their semi-final match 2-1 to Jamaica and finished 4th after losing to Panama on penalties while Mexico Defeated Jamaica 3-1 in the final to lift the cup.