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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 13 Jun 2017, 14:33 

Joined: 20 Nov 2009, 11:50
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Plenty, I would say. I expect Uzbekistan to finish third in the group, which gives them a play-off against third in the other group
The winner of this then plays the fourth placed CONCACAF (North & Central America) for the final place.
Having said that, I suspect the final winner of this place to be Australia!

Meanwhile, in deepest Papua New Guinea
96. Papua New Guinea
85. Tahiti.
There were three options on the table for the game today
a) The Solomon Islands won or drew, giving them the place in the next round
b) PNG thrashed the Solomons, with a five goal victory and finished top of the group
c) PNG win by a smaller margin, and Tahiti win through.
It started well for options b/c, with PNG taking the lead after 18 minutes
But it went wrong on the half hour, when they had Felix Komolong sent off.
Solomon Islands equalised from the penalty spot, and took the lead just before half time
With no second half goals, it was Solomon Islands that play New Zealand in the next round

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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 14 Jun 2017, 07:42 

Joined: 20 Nov 2009, 11:50
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Tahiti is of course, 95, not 85.
I thought I would include this comment, made on a different forum

Lest we forget that when the new qualifying system kicks in for 2026, the losers of this high-ranking game between New Zealand and Solomon Islands would qualify for the final play-offs for the 126th place at the World Cup.

Fair point that.

I was expecting to add some more Asian teams to the knocked out list, but results did not quite do as expected.

The first unexpected result almost achieved the opposite though, as the UAE went to bottom of the group team Thailand. UAE really needed a win to keep their chances alive. I do not understand some of the stats summaries shown on web sites. If Thailand did not have an attempt on target in the game, how did Mongkol Tossakai score to put them ahead in the 69th minute. This could have put UAE out, but an injury time equaliser keeps them running.

UAE are now six points behind both Australia and Saudi Arabia. There next game howver is home to Saudi Arabia - and if they can beat their neighbours, then it is "game on" - at least for third place in the group. Saudi finish their programme at home to top of the group Japan, while the UAE go away to play Iraq. If the game is to be played in Iran, then we need someone with a degree in middle-Eastern studies to tell me whether the Iranians hate Iraq or UAE more.

The second game in the group was Iraq (also already out) v Japan. The Japanese took an early lead, but the final score was 1-1. Japan must finish in the top three, and have secured the play off slot as minimum. The result means they have only a one point advantage on Saudi Arabia and Australia and hence must win one of their last two games to secure direct qualification.
They play Australia next (at home), followed by the trip to Saudi Arabia

In Group A, Syria play their home games in Melaka, Malaysia. I am not certain if the local Chinese population will support China, but I have seen support from the Muslim population for countries such as Iraq, so maybe Syria get some support here as well. A reported crowd of 4737 seems quite good for a neutral match.
Syria opened the scoring with a 12th minute penalty, but China levelled midway through the second half, also from the spot, and then took the lead soon afterwards. Syria then equalised in stoppage time.
The result left China six points behind third placed Uzbekistan, who they need to catch to get into the play off. China's next game is Uzbekistan at home

Much later in the day, with kick off at 22.00 local time to allow for the meal after breaking the fast during Ramadan, Qatar entertained South Korea. Qatar needed to win this to stay in contention, but their leading goalscorer from this tournament, Hassan Khalid Al Haidous was in form, scoring the opening goal, and getting the assist when they went two up early in the second half. The Koreans are not easy opponents, and have not yet secured their qualification, and fought back to 2-2, only for Hassan Khalid to score again and restore a Qatari lead. With Qatar winning 3-2, the group is now very interesting - except at the very top where Iran are now group winners.

South Korea have 13 points, Uzbekistan 12, Syria 9, Qatar 7 and China 6.
On August 31, it is China v Uzbekistan, South Korea v Iran and Syria v Qatar, while 5 days later it is Iran v Syria, Qatar v China and Uzbekistan v South Korea.

The Qatari team still seems as if they psh the rules to the limit, or beyond. Leading goalscorer, Uruguayan born Sebastian Sorria was not involved in this game, but I noticed that Rodrigo Tabata was given one of the assists. I wonder at what point in his career, Tabata thought about his future 17 caps (more to come?) for Qatar. For a long time, he was a lightly regarded player in the lower divisions in Brazil, but moving up to the top division, he starred in Goias' campaign of 2005 when they qualified for the Copa Libertadores for the first time. This earned him a move to Santos, where he scored 42 goals in 154 appearances.

From Santos, he moved to Turkey, first to Gaziantepspor and then to Besiktas. In 2010, at the age of 30, he turned up at Al Rayyan in Qatar on loan. They liked him enough to sign him a year later.

Oddly, the reports say that he tried to gain Japanese citizenship while with Al Rayyan, in order to allow him to qualify as Asian and increase the clubs foreign player quota for Asian Champions League games. He did not succeed in this, and later was naturalised as a Qatari citizen and in 2015 joined their National team.

Also in the team for this week's game was Pedro Miguel Correia, Portuguese born, but of Cape Verde descent, (according to wiki, soccerway has him listed as Cape Verde born) Mohamed Kasola (Ghana), Ibrahim Majid (Kuwait of Palestian descent) Boualem Khoukhi (Algeria), and Ali Assadalla (Bahrain), while on the bench they had Karim Boudiaf (French born, but Algerian descent, played U-23 for Algeria), Ahmed Al-Sayed (Egypt), Omar Barry (goalkeeper, born in Guinea), Khalifa Ababaccar (goalkeeper, born in Senegal) and Luiz Ceara (another Brazilian by birth).

Onto CONCACAF, and Panama at home to Honduras. A good crowd (25,000 quoted) here, but Panama found themselves a goal down after 6 minutes. They levelled before half time, but did not build on this. The stats on Soccerway say they had 72% possession, and that Honduras did not have a shot on target during the game. Still Honduras managed to regain the lead, with a late goal restoring parity.

Costa Rica at home to Trinidad & Tobago, in front of 30,000. An expected home win, which is what we got. Although Costa Rica scored in the first minute, the win was narrow with T&T equalising before Costa Rica regained the lead just before the break. No goals second half.

After 6 games (10 to play), Mexico lead the group with 14 points, Costa Rica have 11 and USA 8. Panama are in the play off position on 7, Honduras are on 5, while Trinidad & Tobago struggle to stay with 3 points.
Costa Rica play both Mexico and USA in September, after which we will have a clearer idea of how the group will finish.

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