Friday, April 02, 2021

Silent start


The World Cup qualifiers in Europe and CONCACAF kicked off mostly behind closed doors. Germany suffered a rare home defeat, losing 2-1 to North Macedonia while the Irish Republic were stunned 1-0 at home to Luxembourg. Burak Yilmaz scored a hat-trick as Turkey celebrated a 4-2 victory at home to the Netherlands, but after a 3-0 win over Norway in Spain, the Turks returned home to let a 2 goal lead slip and draw 3-3 with Latvia. Ukraine began their three-match week with an impressive 1-1 draw against world champions France in Paris, but their pride was shattered with 1-1 home draws against Finland and Kazakhstan. Denmark capped a good week with a 4-0 win in Austria while Armenia also rose in the football rankings after sending Iceland packing with a 2-0 loss and coming from behind to beat Romania 3-2 in Yerevan.  Greece earned a creditable 1-1 draw in Spain, but their 1-1 draw at home to Georgia was less than impressive while Slovakia, who came from 2 down to salvage a disappointing 2-2 draw at home to Malta, defeated their Russian visitors 2-1 a few days later. Croatia lost 1-0 in Slovenia who were 1-0 losers in Cyprus while Sweden won 3-0 in Kosovo.

In the CONCACAF section, Montserrat achieved 2-2 and 1-1 draws in Curacao against Antigua & Barbuda and El Salvador respectively while Anguilla managed to lose only 1-0 to Barbados in the Dominican Republic and US Virgin Islands lost by the same low score away to Grenada. Puerto Rico achieved a 1-1 draw in Trinidad & Tobago.

The Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers came to a conclusion with Comoros making it to the finals for the first time after a goalless draw at home to Togo. The Cape Verde Islands enjoyed a 3-1 victory over their visitors from Cameroon while Madagascar were hammered 4-0 in Ethiopia and drew 0-0 at home to Niger, losing out on qualification. Gabon enjoyed a 3-0 win at home to DR Congo but lost 2-0 in Angola and Tunisia were 5-2 winners in Libya while Congo were 3-0 losers at Guinea Bissau. Eswatini drew 1-1 in Senegal and the Central African Republic lost 1-0 at home to Mauritania while Zimbabwe qualified with a 1-0 win in Botswana but finished off with a 2-0 defeat at home to Zambia. Namibia were awarded a 3-0 win away to Chad who were disqualified due to government interference.