Friday, September 21, 2018

A new era

With the World Cup behind us, a new competition called the UEFA Nations League kicked off to replace meaningless friendly matches. The most notable results in the first 2 round of matches were Turkey’s remarkable comeback from 2 goals down in Sweden to win 3-2 with a last-gasp brace from Emre Akbaba and Spain’s 6-0 crushing of World Cup finalists Croatia in Elche. A similar competition began in the CONCACAF region where St Lucia soundly defeated Antigua and Barbuda 3-0 on their travels and Aruba embarrassed Bermuda 3-1 in Curacao. These competitions will be counted as friendly tournaments in the Ziaian rankings, but it was business as usual in Africa as Ghana were stunned 1-0 in Kenya and Sierra Leone suffered the same outcome in Ethiopia while Burkina Faso were beaten 2-0 in Mauritania in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. There were also 1-1 draws for Cameroon in Comoros and for Burundi in Gabon.
Having lost 4-1 at home to the Solomon Islands in a friendly, Macau took part in the East Asian Cup qualifiers in Mongolia where they lost by the same scoreline to their host before bouncing back to register a 2-0 win over Guam but could only draw 1-1 with the Northern Mariana Islands. Suriname returned from French Guiana 4-0 victorious in August.