Monday, July 17, 2023

Restless in Europe


Shortly after the conclusion of the European leagues, that had been extended due to the winter World Cup, the battle for places in Euro 2024 continued. Armenia hit back from a goal down, with a double from Grant-Leon Mamedova to record an impressive 4-2 victory in Wales, while Poland took a 2-goal lead in Moldova but were humiliated 3-2 with a brace from Ion Nicolaescu and Luxembourg triumphed 2-0 in Bosnia & Herzegovina. Kazakhstan struck a late stunner in Northern Ireland while Kosovo lost 2-1 in Belarus and Austria picked up a 1-1 draw in Belgium. Valentin Mihaila scored twice at the death to give Romania a 2-2 draw in Switzerland after Zeki Amdouni’s double had given the hosts a 2-goal advantage while Slovakia were 2-1 winners in Iceland and Albania did one better away to the Faroe Islands. Meanwhile Spain defeated Croatia in a penalty shootout in Spain to win the European League of Nations.  

In the African qualifiers for the Cup of Nations, Moroccan World Cup heroes lost 2-1 in South Africa while Ivory Coast were brushed aside 3-0 in Zambia and Tunisia were beaten 1-0 in Equatorial Guinea. DR Congo won 2-0 in Gabon while Mozambique enjoyed the same result with goals at the end of each half in Rwanda and there was a 2-0 win for Togo over Eswatini in South Africa. Burundi defeated Namibia 3-2 with an early flurry in Tanzania while Mauritania eased past Sudan 3-0 in Morocco and Ghana were held to a goalless draw away to Madagascar while African champions Senegal could only draw 1-1 in Benin.

Guadeloupe hammered Antigua and Barbuda 5-0 in America on route to qualifying for the Gold Cup were they drew 2-2 with co-hosts Canada before battering Cuba 4-1 with a double from Matthias Phaeton in Houston to continue their rise in the football rankings while St Kitts & Nevis also qualified for the finals having overcome Curacao on penalties in America where they did not fair well. Puerto Rico enjoyed a penalty shootout success against Suriname in Fort Lauderdale but failed to qualify for the finals where the USA opened with a 1-1 draw against Jamaica in Chicago and ended with a defeat to Panama in a semi-final shootout in San Diego. Tha Panamanians opened with a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica and topped their group despite a 2-2 draw against bottom-of-the-table El Salvador who had been shocked 2-1 by Martinique before playing a goalless match against Costa Rica. In the final Mexico scored late to lift the cup for the ninth time.