Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Russia 2018 takes winter break

The World Cup qualifiers took a winter break after a busy week in November. French Guiana came from 2 down to blow hosts Haiti away 5-2 with a hat-trick from Sloan Privat in the rearranged World Cup qualifier in the Caribbean section while in North America Mexico were 2-1 winners in the USA and Honduras lost 1-0 at home to Panama. In South America Paraguay were humiliated 4-1 at home to Peru and lost 1-0 in Bolivia who had earlier been humbled 5-0 in Venezuela. The Venezuelans then lost 3-0 in Ecuador and Peru lost 2-0 at home to Brazil, who top the football rankings, while Argentina put 3 past their visitors from Colombia and Chile sent Uruguay home 3-1 losers. In Europe Poland were 3-0 victorious in Romania and Israel enjoyed the same result at 9-man Albania while Armenia came from 2 down against Montenegro to celebrate a last-minute home win and  Denmark triumphed 4-1 at home to Kazakhstan. Georgia could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Moldova while the Irish Republic won by a single goal in Austria and Belarus who enjoyed a 1-0 win in Greece were beaten 1-0 in Bulgaria days later and Lithuania were taken apart 4-0 in Slovakia.
In Africa Cameroon were held to a 1-1 home draw by Zambia while Cape Verde were beaten 2-0 by their visitors from Burkina Faso and Senegal lost 2-1 in South Africa. Nigeria enjoyed a 3-1 home win over Algeria while Mali were held at home to a goalless draw by Gabon and in Oceania Tahiti lost 1-0 away to the Solomon Islands while New Zealand fired blanks in New Caledonia. In Asian qualifiers Australia drew 2-2 in Thailand, Syria and Iran played a goalless match in Malaysia and Iraq lost 2-0 in the UAE while in the Solidarity Cup in Malaysia, Brunei smashed East Timor 4-0, Laos were humiliated 4-1 by Macau and enjoyed a 2-0 win over Sri Lanka. In an East Asian Cup qualifier Taiwan defeated Guam 2-0 in Hong Kong.    

Friday, October 14, 2016

The rises and falls of October

The quest to reach Russia 2018 continued in October. Latvia were upset 2-0 at home by the Faroe Islands and endured the same scoreline a few days later when they hosted Hungary while the Faroese were brought back down to earth on home soil when they were hit for 6 by European champions Portugal. A dominant Spain drew 1-1 in Italy before winning 2-0 in Albania while Israel who enjoyed a 2-1 win in Macedonia must have been much less satisfied repeating the result at home to lowly Liechtenstein. After crushing their Kazakh visitors 5-0, Montenegro picked up another 3 points with a 1-0 victory in Denmark while Armenia who were thumped 5-0 at home to Romania only lost 2-1 to a stoppage-time goal in Poland. Turkey were beaten 2-0 in Iceland after having drawn 2-2 at home to Ukraine and in group D Serbia enjoyed a 3-0 win in Moldova while Wales could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Georgia. The Dutch started well in their 2 home matches with a 4-1 win against Belarus, but then lost 1-0 to France while Belarus were held 1-1 at home to Luxembourg. Scotland dropped in the rankings after drawing 1-1 at home to Lithuania before losing 3-0 in Slovakia who had returned from a 1-0 loss in Slovenia while Azerbaijan celebrated a 1-0 win at home to Norway before holding their Czech hosts to a goalless draw. Bosnia and Herzegovina were battered 4-0 in Belgium while Switzerland picked up a narrow 2-1 win away to Andorra.
In South America Argentina drew 2-2 in Peru before being stunned 1-0 at home to Paraguay while champions Chile were swept aside 3-0 in Ecuador and Bolivia were belittled 5-0 in Brazil.
The third round of the qualifiers in Africa got underway and after losing a friendly 1-0 at home to Kenya, DR Congo began with a 4-0 win over Libya while Tunisia put 2 past Guinea. Ivory Coast enjoyed a 3-1 home win over Mali while Nigeria were 2-1 winners in Zimbabwe and Ghana were held to a goalless home draw by Uganda.
In Asia Syria were 1-0 winners in China but suffered the reverse result in Qatar while a single goal gave Iran all 3 points in Uzbekistan. The UAE lost 3-0 in Saudi Arabia while Iraq brushed Thailand aside 4-0 in Iran and Japan picked up a 1-1 draw in Australia. In an Asia Cup qualifier Bangladesh were beaten 3-1 in Bhutan and in a friendly match North Korea were taken apart 5-2 in Vietnam.
In the Caribbean Cup qualifiers Trinidad & Tobago eased 4-0 past Dominican Republic but lost 2-0 in extra time away to Martinique who had returned from the Dominican Republic with a 2-1 victory.   
In a friendly match New Zealand held their American hosts to a 1-1 draw.

Friday, September 09, 2016

All roads to Russia

Less than 2 months after Portugal lifted Euro 2016 in Paris, as Europe became the last continent to kick off their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers, the Portuguese began their campaign with a 2-0 defeat away to Switzerland while new boys Kosovo picked up a 1-1 draw in Finland and England began life under Sam Allardyce with a 1-0 victory in Slovakia. After losing 2-0 at home to Spain in a friendly, a double from Lukaku helped Belgium to a 3-0 win in Cyprus while France fired blanks in Belarus as did Hungary away to the Faroe Islands. Austria were 2-1 winners in Georgia while Scotland ran out 5-1 winners in Malta with a hat-trick from Snodgrass and Germany put 3 past their Norwegian hosts without reply. Romania could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Montenegro and in a friendly match the Dutch lost 2-1 at home to Greece.
Bolivia enjoyed the biggest leap in the rankings after winning 2-0 at home to Peru and travelling to Chile where they held the continental champions to a goalless draw. The Chileans had earlier lost 2-1 in Paraguay who went on to suffer a 4-0 spanking in Uruguay with Cavani claiming half the goals while Brazil enjoyed a 3-0 win in Ecuador and Argentina drew 2-2 away to Venezuela after having won by a single goal at home to Uruguay.
In the North, Central America and Caribbean section Haiti upset their Jamaican hosts 2-0 and Honduras returned from Mexico with a goalless draw while Guatemala enjoyed a spectacular 9-3 goal fest at home to St Kitts and Nevis.
In a friendly match Kazakhstan lost 2-0 in Kyrgyzstan while in competitive matches in Asia Japan suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at home to the UAE but picked up a 2-0 win in Thailand 5 days later while the UAE fell to a single goal in Australia. Qatar lost 1-0 at home to Uzbekistan while there were creditable goalless draws for Bhutan in Bangladesh and Syria in South Korea.
Africa took a break from the World Cup qualifiers to decide the final participants for the 2017 Africa Cup of nations. Rwanda earned a 1-1 draw away to already qualified Ghana while Congo hosted and defeated group winners Guinea Bissau 1-0 and Libya won also in vain by the same scoreline away to Cape Verde. There were 1-1 draws for Mauritania in South Africa and for Sierra Leone away to the Ivory Coast while Swaziland lost 1-0 in Malawi.  

Friday, July 01, 2016

Red hot Chile rule the Americas

A year after Chile hosted and won the 2015 Copa America, the Copa America Centenario was hosted by USA in a celebration of the centenary of the South American football confederation. The 10 South American countries, hosts USA plus Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Haiti and Panama took part in the competition.
The Americans topped group A ahead of Colombia after sweeping Costa Rica aside 4-0 and watching Costa Rica shock Colombia 3-2 in the final match of the group.
In group B Brazil were held to a goalless draw by Ecuador and despite hammering Haiti 7-1 with a hat-trick from Coutinho were eliminated after losing controversially 1-0 to group winners Peru.
In group C with both teams reduced to 10 men, Mexico scored 2 late goals to overcome Uruguay 3-1 and with the Uruguayans suffering a shock 1-0 loss to Venezuela, their 3-0 win over Jamaica was a mere consolation while Mexico, who defeated Jamaica 1-0, were group winners on goal difference ahead of Venezuela after tying with them 1-1 on the final group day.
Argentina and Chile progressed from group D while Panama beat Bolivia 2-1 into 3rd place. Ten-man Panama were pummelled 5-0 by group winners Argentina with a hat-trick from Lionel Messi.
Chile demolished Mexico 7-0 with 4 goals from Vargas in the quarter finals while Argentina brushed Venezuela aside 4-1 before burying their American hosts 4-0 to reach the final.
The USA finished 4th in the tournament after losing 1-0 to Colombia while in the final Chile and Argentina played out a goalless match with the Chileans winning on penalties and moving to the top of the football rankings having seen Messi miss his spot kick for Argentina.         

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Continents calling

With the 2016 European Championships and Copa America Centenario just around the corner several warm-up matches took place in which South American champions Chile suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Jamaica and European champions Spain were stunned 1-0 at home to Georgia. In other friendly matches Armenia smashed Guatemala 7-1 in Carson USA while Slovakia humbled world champions Germany 3-1 in a drenched Augsburg and the Republic of Ireland were embarrassed 2-1 at home to Belarus. Poland lost 2-1 at home to Euro absentees the Netherlands while the Czech Republic suffered the same result against South Korea in Prague and newly recognised Kosovo defeated the Faroe Islands 2-0 in Germany. Australia lost 2-1 at home to Greece and Syria lost 2-0 in Vietnam while Myanmar had a mixed bag losing 1-0 to Singapore but ending on a high with a 3-0 win over Hong Kong to finish 3rd as they hosted the Aya Bank Cup which was won by Vietnam. In an Asian Cup qualifier Cambodia achieved a 2-2 draw away to Taiwan.
In the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Swaziland celebrated a 1-0 victory over their visitors from Guinea and Kenya defeated Congo 2-1 while DR Congo thumped hosts Madagascar 6-1 and South Africa were 4-0 winners in Gambia. Botswana lost 2-1 at home to Uganda and Zambia were 3-2 loser in Guinea Bissau while Egypt won 2-0 in Tanzania and Mozambique continued to rise in the football rankings with a 3-2 victory in Rwanda. The Central African Republic put 3 past visitors Angola without reply while Senegal won 2-0 in Burundi and a single goal gave Sierra Leone a home win over Sudan.     
In the Caribbean Cup second round qualifiers Grenada lost at home to Puerto Rico on penalties after a 3-3 draw and were later thumped 5-1 away to Antigua and Barbuda while Martinique were brushed aside 4-0 in Dominica. The Dominican Republic stunned hosts Bermuda 1-0 before returning home to defeat French Guiana 2-1 and qualify for the next round as group 4 winners with the match between the 2 losers having been postponed due to heavy rain in French Guiana. Guyana who were pummelled 5-2 in Curacao travelled to the US Virgin Islands where they gave the natives a 7-0 spanking.
Papua New Guinea hosted the 2016 Oceania Nations Cup and began with a 1-1 draw against New Caledonia, eventually winning their group on goal difference but losing the final on penalties to pre-tournament favourites New Zealand on penalties after a goalless draw. The Kiwis won their group 6 points ahead of the other teams with a less that convincing 1-0 win over the Solomon Islands who had begun their campaign with a 1-0, but had fallen by the same scoreline to Fiji. The result of the tournament was Fiji's shock 3-2 defeat to Vanuatu.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Marching on all over the world

Early in the year a single goal in Panama gave Haiti a play-off win over Trinidad and Tobago to secure them a place in the 2016 Centennial Copa America while in the Bangabandhu Gold Cup in Bangladesh Nepal swept the Maldives aside 4-1 and in friendly matches Suriname lost 3-2 away to French Guiana, Honduras were beaten 3-1 in Guatemala and Egypt lost 1-0 at home to Jordan.
In March the World Cup qualifiers in South America continued with Ecuador drawing 2-2 at home to Paraguay and losing 3-1 away to Colombia who had earlier got the better of hosts Bolivia with the 3-2 winner coming in stoppage time. Chile lost 2-1 at home to Argentina but had a 4-1 success in Venezuela who had drawn 2-2 in Peru with the Peruvians going on to lose only 1-0 to top team Uruguay in Montevideo.
In Asia The Philippines returned home from an honourable 1-0 defeat in Uzbekistan to stun their visitors from North Korea 3-2 with a last minute goal while Lebanon who lost 1-0 in South Korea were held to an embarrassing 1-1 draw by their visitors from Myanmar. Afghanistan travelling to neighbours Iran where they shocked Singapore 2-1 while Qatar lost 2-0 in China and there were big wins for Australia who hammered Jordan 5-1 and for Japan who put 5 past Syria without reply on home soil. Oman could only manage a single goal at home to Oman and Kyrgyzstan won by the same scoreline in Tajikistan while Bahrain scored 3 times at home to Yemen and Saudi Arabia picked up a 1-1 draw in the United Arab Emirates. In North America Guatemala defeated the American tourists 2-0 but were taken apart 4-0 on American soil while there were 3-0 wins for Mexico in Canada and for Costa Rica at home to Jamaica.
In the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Burundi were humiliated 3-1 at home to Namibia but reversed the result 3 days later in Namibia while Libya were humbled 2-1 in Sao Tome and Principe while Kenya were diminish by Guinea Bissau 1-0 home and away. Ivory Coast could only manage a 1-0 win at home to Sudan and were held to a 1-1 draw in the return fixture while South Sudan lost 2-1 at home to Benin and Equatorial Guinea were defeated 1-0 at home to Mali. Zambia and Congo hosted each other in 1-1 draws while Botswana lost 1-0 in Comoros but picked up a 2-1 win in the return match. Cape Verde fell 1-0 at home to Morocco who a few days later became the first team to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations while Algeria missed out on early qualification after sharing the spoils in a 6-goal thriller in Ethiopia. Mauritius enjoyed a 1-0 win at home to Rwanda but were thumped 5-0 by them on the road while Seychelles were victorious 2-0 at home to Lesotho but lost 2-1 in the away match. Malawi held hosts Guinea to a goalless draw but were on the losing end 2-1 in their home match while there were 1-0 wins for Liberia in Djibouti and Burkina Faso at home to Uganda. Cameroon held their South African hosts to a goalless draw and Central African Republic earned a 1-1 draw in Madagascar while Ghana drew 0-0 in Mozambique. DR Congo triumphed 2-0 in Angola and Swaziland were swept aside 4-0 in Zimbabwe. Chad withdrew from the competition for financial reasons after losing 1-0 at home to Tanzania and had the result officially annulled, thought the result stands in the football rankings.
The Caribbean Cup qualifiers got underway and saw Barbados celebrate a 1-0 win over their visitors from Curacao but then lose 2-0 away to the Dominican Republic while Martinique who would have been expected to do better than their 3-0 home win over the British Virgin Islands went on to enjoy a 4-1 victory away to Dominica who had just returned from a 7-0 mauling of the Virgin Islanders. French Guiana lost 2-1 in Bermuda but sailed 3-0 past Cuba on their return home while Suriname drew 0-0 in Guadeloupe and there were narrow wins for Grenada who won 2-1 away to the US Virgin Islands, Guyana who returned from Puerto Rico with a 1-0 win and for St Kitts and Nevis who could only manage a single goal at home to Antigua and Barbuda.
Among friendly matches Panama lost 1-0 in Nicaragua, Bulgaria triumphed 1-0 in Portugal and Papua New Guinea were 2-1 winners away to the Solomon Islands while Macau held their Malaysian hosts to a goalless draw, Bosnia and Herzegovina rolled the Swiss over 2-0 in Switzerland and the Netherlands upset England 2-1 at Wembley less than a week after the passing of Johan Cruyff.