Friday, November 19, 2021

Top teams to Qatar


The last competitive matches of the year gave Europe’s top teams their tickets to next year’s World Cup in Qatar while those who narrowly missed out will get another chance in the March play-off matches.

Georgia’s shock 2-0 home win over Sweden paved the way for Spain to qualify while Serbia came from an early goal down to deny Portugal and qualify with a last-minute 2-1 winner in Lisbon. Enis Bardhi scored a hat-trick as North Macedonia thrashed their Armenian hosts 5-0 while Latvia held Norway to a goalless draw in Oslo and 10 Finns triumphed 3-1 in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Group-toppers Denmark lost 2-0 in Scotland while Poland were 2-1 losers at home to Hungary and Iceland drew 0-0 in Romania. The Republic of Ireland scored 3 goals in without reply in Luxembourg and nine-man Malta were taken apart 6-0 by their Slovakian visitors with a hat-trick from Andrej Duda and a double from Albert Rusnak while Kosovo earned a 1-1 draw in Greece and Ukraine reached the play-offs with a 2-0 win in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

In South America, Bolivia, who lost 3-0 in Peru, returned home to upset Uruguay 3-0 with a double from Juan Carlos Arce, despite being reduced to 10 players, while Chile lost 2-0 at home to Ecuador and Paraguay played a goalless match in Colombia. Mexico lost 2-0 away to the USA in the North American section.

In Africa, DR Congo enjoyed a 3-0 win away to Tanzania while Niger drew 1-1 against Burkina Faso in Morocco and Fashion Sakala netted 3 times as Zambia put 4 past their visitors from Mauritania without reply while a late brace from Christian Bassogog helped Cameroon to 4-0 win over Malawi in South Africa. Tunisia lost 1-0 away to Equatorial Guinea while Peter Wilson scored twice in front of his home crowd as Liberia defeated Central African Republic 3-1 and Burkina Faso picked up a 2-2 draw at group winners Algeria. The UAE were 1-0 winners away to Lebanon in the Asian section and in a friendly match Nicaragua lost 3-0 at home to Cuba.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Qatar opens its doors


Germany thumped North Macedonia 4-0 in Skopje with 2 goals from Kai Havertz to become the first nation to qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and were followed by Denmark a day later. Slovenia, who enjoyed the same scoreline in Malta with a Josip Ilicic double, returned home to lose 2-1 to Russia three days later while Croatia were held to a 2-2 draw at home to Slovakia. Hungary lost 1-0 at home to Albania but picked up a 1-1 draw against England at Wembley while the Irish Republic were 3-0 winners in Azerbaijan with a brace from Callum Robinson, and 2 late goals from Fiodor Cernych gave Lithuania a shock 3-1 win over Bulgaria in Vilnius. Finland lost 2-1 at home to Ukraine and Smail Prevljak scored both goals for Bosnia and Herzegovina in Kazakhstan who suffered their second 2-0 home defeat three days later when Teemu Pukki netted twice for the Finns while Kosovo were shocked 2-1 by their visitors from Georgia. France won the European League of Nations with a 2-1 victory over Spain in Turin.

In South America Paraguay were pummelled 4-0 in Bolivia, who a few days earlier had overcome Peru 1-0 on the same ground despite being reduced to ten players while the Paraguayans themselves went down 2-0 in Chile with both teams ending the match with ten players. Venezuela were 2-1 winners at home to Ecuador.

In Africa Nigeria were stunned 1-0 by a last-minute Central African Republic goal in Lagos while Ibrahima Kone scored a hat-trick as Mali mauled Kenya 5-0 in Morocco and South Africa were 3-1 winners in Ethiopia. Tanzania lost 1-0 at home to Benin but reversed the result in the return match while Togo triumphed 2-1 in Congo and Egypt put 3 past their Libyan hosts without reply. Guinea Bissau were beaten 5-0 away to Morocco and 10-man Zambia lost 2-0 in Equatorial Guinea while Uganda won with a single goal in Rwanda. DR Congo lost to a first-minute goal in Madagascar and Angola were defeated 2-0 in Gabon.

In North America the USA lost 1-0 in Panama and Jamaica were 2-0 winners in Honduras.

In the Asian section, South Korea dew 1-1 in Iran.


Friday, September 10, 2021

Focus on Qatar


The World Cup qualifiers continued after a summer break with newly crowned European champions, Italy, only managing a 1-1 draw at home to Bulgaria while 10 Frenchmen suffered the same ignominy at home to Bosnia & Herzegovina. Iceland fell 2-0 at home to Romania while England humiliated Hungary 4-0 in Budapest and Israel enjoyed the same result against the Faroe Islands with Eran Zahavi netting a hat-trick for the visitors who returned home to hammer Austria 5-2 with Zahavi adding another 2 goals to his international tally. The Austrians went on to lose 1-0 at home to Scotland while Armenia also had a bad week, losing 6-0 in Germany with an early double from Serge Gnabry putting the Germans on their way, before returning to Yerevan where they could only draw 1-1 with Liechtenstein. Cain Attard scored twice in Malta’s 3-0 home victory over 10-man Cyprus while Montenegro came from 2 down to draw 2-2 in Turkey and Kosovo upset their Georgian hosts 1-0 in Batumi. Sweden suffered a 2-1 defeat in Greece while Wales were held to a goalless draw by their Estonian guests.

In Asia, Oman stunned their Japanese hosts with a late goal in Suita while the United Arab Emirates fired blanks at home to Lebanon while in South America Ecuador enjoyed a 2-0 home win with 2 late goals against Paraguay. In the CONCACAF section Jamaica were shocked 3-0 by the visiting Panamanians while Honduras earned a 1-1 draw in Canada but returned home to get thumped 4-1 by the USA having taken a first-half lead.

In Africa Libya went a goal down but scored a last-minute winner at home to Gabon before upsetting Angola 1-0 on their travels while Tunisia were 2-0 winners in Zambia and Burkina Faso held Algeria to a 1-1 draw in Morocco. Mohammed Abdel-Rahman scored both goals for Sudan but Piqueti Silva’s double was among 4 for the visiting Guinea Bissau, who continued their rise in the football rankings while Malawi beat Mozambique 1-0 in South Africa.