Friday, December 01, 2023

Final kicks of the year


The World Cup qualifiers took a winter break after a busy end-of-the-year period in three continents. Uruguay moved up the football rankings having celebrated a 2-0 victory at world champions Argentina and Peru lost 2-0 in Bolivia, while in Asia after stunning Kuwait 1-0 on their own pitch, India returned home to be swept away 3-0 by Qatar and there were 2-0 away wins for UAE in Bahran, Yemen in Nepal and for Saudi Arabia in Jordan. Jong Il-gwan scored a hat-trick as North Korea battered Myanmar 6-1 on their travels and Oman were defeated 1-0 in Kyrgyzstan while in African qualifiers for the World Cup, Rwanda put 2 past their visitors from South Africa without reply and Zambia lost 2-1 to Niger in Morocco. Nigeria could only draw 1-1 at home to Lesotho while Mozambique were 3-2 winners in Botswana who defeated Guinea five days later on the same ground. Comoros enjoyed home success beating Central African Republic, who later drew 1-1 in Mali, 4-2 and Ghana 1-0 while Mozambique lost 2-0 at home to Algeria.

In the qualifiers for Euro 2024, Northern Ireland ended on a high with a 2-0 win over Denmark in Belfast while Sweden were humiliated 3-0 in Azerbaijan and Albania were held to a goalless draw by the visiting Faroese while Bulgaria earned a 2-2 draw in Serbia. Belarus shocked their Kosovan hosts 1-0 while in the CONCACAF Nations League Sint Maarten came from behind to win 2-1 in St Lucia and in the Pacific games hosted by the Solomon Islands, Tonga came from a goal down to thrash America Samoa 6-2 with Hemaloto Polovili and Amoni Fifita scoring 2 apiece while Paolo Vailine and Matti Ualesi scored twice each in Tuvalu’s 4-1 win over Northern Mariana Islands.