Wednesday, November 27, 2019

European summer awaits

As Europe prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Euros in the summer of 2020 with the competition spread around the continent, the group stage reached its conclusion. Sweden received their invitation to the party after a 2-0 victory in Romania while Eden Hazard scored twice as Belgium cemented their superiority over Russia and top spot in the football rankings brushing their hosts aside 4-1 in Saint Petersburg and the Czechs ended their successful campaign with a disappointing 1-0 loss in Bulgaria. Cristian Martinez scored twice for Andorra who enjoyed a rare point with a 2-2 draw in Albania while France came from behind on home soil to get past Moldova 2-1 thanks to a late penalty and Turkey drew blanks at home to Iceland. Greece defeated their Armenian hosts 1-0 while Scotland picked up a 2-1 win in Cyprus and Austria were stunned 1-0 in Latvia.
The World Cup qualifiers continued in Asia where Suan Lam Mang scored twice for hosts Myanmar who got the better of Tajikistan 4-3 for whom Manuchehr Dzalilov also netted twice, but the Tajikistanis salvaged some pride with a 1-1 draw away to Kyrgyzstan days later. North Korea were defeated 3-1 in Turkmenistan while Saudi Arabia were 3-2 winners in Uzbekistan with the help of Salman Alfaraj and Thailand lost 2-1 in Malaysia. Yemen had mixed fortunes in Bahrain where they beat Palestine 1-0 but lost 2-1 to Singapore 5 days later while Bahrain themselves drew 0-0 away to Hong Kong.
The shock of the month happened in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers where Gambia triumphed 3-1 in Angola with Assan Ceesay netting a brace for the visitors while Khama Billiat scored twice as Zimbabwe won 2-1 in Zambia and Madagascar ran out 6-2 winners in Niger with Lalaïna Nomenjanahary scoring a double for the Malagasy. Ethiopia celebrated a 2-1 win over Ivory coast while Cameroon were held to a goalless draw at home to Cape Verde and Morocco were 3-0 winners in Burundi. Togo were stunned 1-0 by their visitors from Comoros before drawing 1-1 in Kenya while Guinea Bissau lost 3-0 in Congo and 10-man Sao Tome and Principe were beaten 4-0 in Sudan. Guinea drew 2-2 in Mali and in the CONCACAF Nations League the most noteworthy result was the 1-0 defeat of Barbados to Saint Martin in Anguilla.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Expected path

In the month of October there were relatively few unexpected results in international qualifiers. Bangladesh earned a 1-1 draw in India and Iran lost 1-0 away to Bahrain in World Cup qualifiers while in Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Chad beat Liberia 1-0 in their home match to take it penalties and knock their visitors out, and Gambia did the same to Djibouti after a 1-1 draw.
In the Euro qualifiers England lost 2-1 away to the Czech Republic but bounced back in Bulgaria a few days later winning 6-0 in a black day for Bulgarian football remembered for racist chants while Bosnia and Herzegovina brushed Finland aside 4-1 at home but lost 2-1 in Greece and Turkey retuned from France with a 1-1 draw. Cyprus won 2-1 in Kazakhstan only to return home and get hammered 5-0 by Russia and Estonia held their Belarussian hosts to a goalless draw while in a CONCACAF Nations League match in Anguilla, St Martin celebrated a 3-0 victory over the Cayman Islands. In a friendly match played in France, Colombia lost 3-0 to Algeria for whom Riyad Mahrez netted twice.  

Friday, September 13, 2019

Back to business

After the summer break, competitive international football returned with European qualifiers and World Cup qualifiers in Africa and Asia. In Africa the qualifiers began with a shock in the first round as Djibouti celebrated a 2-1 victory over Eswatini and held them to a goalless draw in the away match to progress to the next round while a 3-1 win for Sudan in Chad was enough to take them through after a 0-0 home draw. Zimbabwe also made it to the next round despite being stunned 1-0 in Somalia, as did Equatorial Guinea who could only draw 1-1 at home to South Sudan in their first match. Angola paved their path to the next round with a 1-0 win in Gambia.
The Asian World Cup qualifiers entered the group stage where Palestine enjoyed a 2-0 win at home to Uzbekistan but were embarrassed 2-1 in Singapore the following week. The shock of the round was produced by Nepal who won 2-0 in Taiwan while Mongolia stunned their visitors from Myanmar 1-0 and Asian champions Qatar where held to a goalless draw at home to India. Lebanon lost 2-0 in North Korea and Kyrgyzstan fell to a single goal in Tajikistan while Australia were 3-0 winners in Kuwait and Malaysia defeated Indonesia 3-2 on their travels.
In the Euro 2020 qualifiers Croatia slaughtered Slovakia 4-0 on the road, but the Slovaks salvaged some pride days later with a 2-1 win away to Hungary while Croatia were held to a 1-1 draw in Azerbaijan. The Netherlands returned from Germany with a 4-2 victory that took them to the top of the Ziaian rankings and Greece were held 1-1 at home to little Liechtenstein while Bosnia & Herzegovina were beaten 4-2 in Armenia for whom Henrikh Mikhitaryan scored twice. Poland lost 2-0 in Slovenia while Portugal triumphed 4-2 in Serbia and Estonia were 2-1 losers at home to Belarus. The Czech Republic picked up a 3-0 win in Montenegro while Albania enjoyed a 4-2 home win against Iceland.
In the Concacaf Nations League Panama suffered a shock 2-0 defeat at home to Bermuda.