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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 11 Oct 2015, 17:00 
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175. Malawi
Malawi become the first African team to exit the pitch, (Zimbabwe never having been allowed to enter it). They win their second leg at home to Tanzania by 1-0, but this could not undo the damage when Tanzania scored twice in the first 23 minutes of their home leg. Both Tanzania's goalscorers, Mbwana Samata and Thomas Ulimwengu play in DR Congo for TP Mazembe. I am almost disappointed that the sponsor's name (Englebert) has now disapeared from the club name.

I will be very surprised of Tanzania themselves do not get knocked out next month, when they play Algeria

174. Sao Tome e Principe
Another game in which both legs were won by the home side, Sao Tome e Principe snatched a 1-0 win late in their home game, when the Belenenses (the Lisbon team you probably haven't heard of) striker Luis Leal scored.
Sao Tome lost their lead in the first minute of the second leg in Addis Abada, with Ethiopia adding a second from the penalty spot early in the second half, and then making it 3-0 with 15 to play. Ethiopia now play the Brazzaville version of Congo.

173. Mauritius
Surprisingly a scoreless second leg in Nairobi, but Kenya had already made sure of progress. Mauritius had attempted to get back into their home game. Mauritius were 3-0 down but pulled it back to 3-2. However, late goals saw Kenya, managed by former Hibs, Plymouth, Chester City and Uganda manager Bobby Williamson, win by 5-2. Hence the lack of goals in the second leg was moot. Kenya include Victor Wanyama of Southampton in their line up, but the main damage to Mauritius was done by Antwerp's Johanna Omolo who got two of the goals.

Kenya now play Cape Verde next month.

The matches this month and next reduce the field in Africa to 20 teams before the group stage. So that is another ten on Tuesday, followed by 20 in November.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 16 Oct 2015, 07:17 
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As it turned out only nine African teams were knocked out on Tuesday, Djibouti have managed to postpone their exit until Saturday after travelling problems going to Swaziland. Still having lost the home leg 6-0, there can be little doubt who will go through.

Saudi Arabia also have trouble with travel, as the Israelis will not allow them passage to play Palestine. Their game in Asian Qualifying was therefore called off, with the probability of a neutral venue when re-arranged. One can be sure FIFA do not have it in them to take a sanction against Israel in retaliation.

Three Asian teams went out as well as the nine from Africa, the ordering here is based on kick off times.

172. Central African Republic
Having lost 3-0 at home, the CAR may well consider the 2-2 draw in the second leg to be a minor victory, but only a minor one. They did take a lead in the second leg, then went 2-1 down only to level the scores again on half time. Madagascar will now take on Senegal in the next round

171.Bhutan
170. Cambodia

Two Asian teams that kicked off at the same time, it took a late goal by Chan Siu Ki to give Hong Kong victory in Bhutan, but this was Bhutan's fifth straight defeat, while Hong Kong got now have ten points from 5 games. Qatar beat the Maldives in this group and are on 100% from their five games. It is inevitable that the Maldives will also get knocked out, and that Qatar will surely win the ground, but China and Hong Kong may be neck and neck for the second place. Only half the second placed teams go through though - so it remains to be seen if either Hong Kong or China make it.

The other thing of note was the crowds for the two games. Qatar's march to the next round was watched by 4006 in Doha, while Bhutan had 7280 watching their expected defeat.

Cambodia lost 2-1 in Singapore, meaning they cannot catch Singapore (now on 10 points) Japan (already on 10, but not playing this time), while Syria (playing in Oman) beat Afghanistan 5-2 to get 12 points. Japan are still favourites to win the group.

169. Seychelles
The Seychelles had lost 1-0 at home, and confirmed their departure with a 2-0 defeat in Burundi. All three of Buundi's goals in the tie scored by Abdul Razak of Mamelodi Sundowns. Burundi play DR Congo next month

168. Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone were unable to play at home due to the Ebola epidemic, so the second leg was played in Nigeria. Chad won the first leg thanks to a goal from Leger Djimrangar. The same player scored a crucial away goal to increase the score in the second leg. Sierra Leone leveled with goals in the 70th and 79th minute, but Chad held on to win a tie against Egypt

167. India
India's 3-0 defeat in Oman was their fifth out of five. They can still get nine points, not enough to catch Oman (11), but more than the current totals of second place Iran (8, with a game in hand), Turkmenistan and Guam (both 7). However, as Iran play both Turkmenistan and Guam next month, the mathematics say India cannot pass all three.

166. Somalia
Somalia are another country that cannot play at home, in this case due to war. They played their first leg in Ethiopia and lost 2-0 to Niger. Niger won the second leg by 4-0 to go comfortably through. Much traveled Moussa Maazou, who switched for Portuguese football to China in January scored two goals in each game. Niger now play Cameroon

165. Gambia
Willy Stephanus had put Namibia ahead in Gambia in the first leg, but Gambia gave them a good tie, getting a 1-1 draw in that leg, and going ahead ealy in the second lag. Stephanus scored again just before half time to again bring the tie level, while Henrik Somaeb's goal confirmed Namibia's tie against Guinea in the next round

164. Guinea-Bissau
Guinea Bissau ay have thought they could get through after a first leg away from home. They came away with a draw after Anido equalised. William Jebor, currently on-loan with Spanish club Ponferradina from Portuguese club Rio Ave, had given Liberia the lead, and virtually ended the G-B hopes with two more in the first 12 minutes of the second leg. Guinea-Bissau pulled one back before half time, but could not level again, and Jebor completed his hat-trick deep into injury time. Liberia now play Ivory Coast (or if you prefer, Cote d'Ivoire)

163. Lesotho
Same kick off time as Guinea-Bissau v Liberia, Lesotho drew 0-0 away to Comoros, and led during the first half of the home leg. Comoros equalised in the second half, grabbing a 1-1 draw, an away goals win, and a match against Ghana

162. South Sudan
FIFA's most recent member (if memory serves me accurately) did not survive long. The home leg was rather drawn out, kicking off at on 7th October, but being abandoned due to torrential rain ten minutes later, with the scores at 1-1. The remaining 80 minutes were played the following morning, with no more goals scored. For the second leg in Mauritania, South SUdan again conceded an early goal. This time they did not equalise, and Mauritania added a second just past the hour and two more late goals to seal a 5-1 aggregate and a match against Tunisia

161. Eritrea
Last on my list and straight forward as results go. Botswana secured a 2-0 win in Eritrea, and although they Eritreans scored first in the second leg, Botswana were ahead in the match before half time, and made it 3-1 in the second half, so again 5-1 on aggregate. Botswana play Mali next

The seeding in Africa means that it will be a surprise if any of the 13 teams (including Swaziland who still have to confirm their place) who won in the first round actually make the groups


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 16 Oct 2015, 11:26 
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who will American Samoa play in the next round Leo? Any ideas yet?


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 18 Oct 2015, 05:29 
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160. Djibouti
In a match delayed from Tuesday, as the away team had problems with their flights,Djibouti bowed to the inevitable. Having lost the home leg by 6-0, Djibouti did well to score in Swaziland, and keep a respectable score,ending up losing by just 2-1, with Swaziland now facing Nigeria next month

Ralph, American Samoa are already listed as knocked out on 4 September.
Samoa were drawn in Group A for the next round, along with Tahiti, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea. PNG are the probable hosts for the tournament. Group consists of New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 13 Nov 2015, 00:46 
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159. Yemen. Actually, I think Yemen should be 172 with all the numbers from 172 down reduced by one. After Yemen had lost their fifth game on October 13th, they could still equal Uzbekistan on 9 points, but this required the Uzbeks to lose all four games, and one of these would have meant Philippines reaching the ten point mark. Even Yemen’s first win, (they won1-0 in the Philippines) does not now matter, and anyway Uzbekistan stunned the group leaders North Korea with a 3-1 win in Tashkent. Although North Korea still lead the group, the Uzbeks are now the group favourites

This week’s qualifying games starting with a couple of first leg African ties on Wednesday. The second legs start on Saturday, halving the field on that Continent. Meanwhile, as I write this, the third set of fixtures in the South American (Conmebol) group has started. The group stages in North and Central America start tomorrow.

The focus of today’s schedule is Asia. They are playing in five team groups and there are three rounds to go after today, so teams have played five or six games. All the eight group winners go through, along with half the runners-up. There is still something to go for in the minor placings as the competition doubles up as qualification for the next Asian Cup. The 12 teams qualifying for the World Cup are automatically qualified for the Asian Cup, the rest play for 12 more places in the finals.

First up today was Australia v Kyrgyzstan. Australia were placed second in the group after losing their away game to Jordan. The visitors in Canberra were not at risk of being knocked out on the day, but an Australian win would knock out both Tajikistan and Bangladesh, while any other result would see the end of the road for the loser when the pair met later in the day. Mile Jedinak opened the scoring for Australia, Tim Cahill got their second and an own goal sealed the fate of

158. Bangladesh
157. Tajikistan


Tajikistan were to beat Bangladesh 5-0 later in the day. Jordan did not play, but remain a point ahead of Australia, both have three games to play and they meet on the final day.

Next attention turns to Malé, where the Maldives needed to beat Hong Kong to keep their chances alive, Bhutan having already been knocked out. Hong Kong are the surprise team in the group, and their 0-0 draw in Shenzhen (China, but conveniently close to the HK border) earlier in the year means they started the day three points ahead of China (although the Chinese have played one game less). Qatar miss out on playing today, but with five wins to date, they were assured of staying top.

156. Maldives. The final score was 1-0 to Hong Kong, with the goalscorer from a penalty being Paulinho Piracicaba, who made his international debut a week ago at the age of 32. Paulinho is a Brazilian who has been playing in Hong Kong since 2008, and gained a HK passport on October 31st. Later, China beat Bhutan by 12-0 to keep within three points ahead of the “derby” at the Mongkok stadium on Tuesday.

155. Afghanistan. The Afghans started the day in an odd position, in order to stay in contention, not only did they have to beat Cambodia (themselves already out), but they also needed Singapore v Japan to end as a draw. Afghanistan did their bit, with a 3-0 win, but even before they started, they knew the Japanese were not going to play ball, as they had won 3-0 at the Kallang stadium. Japan are now a point ahead of Syria, both having three games to play. Japan are odds on favourites as their three games start with a trip to Cambodia, and then finish with two home games in Japan. Syria travel to Singapore next, and finish in Japan, while their “home” game in between will be played in Oman.

154. Malaysia. This has been a terrible year for Malaysian football. They lost by 10-0 in UAE, and 6-0 at home to Palestine. Their home game against Saudi Arabia was abandoned due to crowd disturbances with three minutes to play, with FIFA upgrading the result from Saudi Arabia leading 2-1, to a 3-0 win for the Saudi team. This means that on Tuesday, the game against UAE will take place behind closed doors. Even moving their trip to play Palestine away from Palestine to Jordan makes no difference, as Palestine again put six past them. Malaysia’s only successes in this group have been in taking four points in games against..

153 Timor Leste. (or East Timor if you prefer). Despite being bottom of the group, the Timorese survive a couple of hours longer, waiting for kick off in UAE. It took 15 minutes for the Emirates to open the scoring, and then they went in on a regular basis, with a final tally of eight. Saudi Arabia sat out the day’s games, but remain three points ahead of UAE. UAE, however have home advantage when the top two meet on the final day, and are also favoured by a home match in the first half of the final pair of games.

152. Laos. Another South East Asian team to be knocked out, and again no surprise. Laos needed to win in Lebanon to stay in touch, but went down to a 7-0 loss. The other game saw a comfortable 4-0 win for South Korea over Myanmar. Kuwait were due to miss today’s games, and as they are suspended by FIFA, they will not make their trip to play Myanmar (in Bangkok, as Myanmar are banned from playing at home) on Tuesday. This gives a stay of execution to Myanmar, who would have been knocked out unless they won the game. If Kuwait can end their suspension before the March games, then it is possible the Myanmar game is rescheduled. If they are expelled from the competition, we have to wait and see. Annulling Kuwait’s results to date would knock Myanmar out on decision day, but awarding the last three games to Kuwait’s opposition would mean they can still finish second.

The groups not mentioned so far:
Group D, where India were already out, but today beat Guam 1-0. Iran got a 3-1 home win over Turkmenistan, and stand level at the top of the group with Oman. Both Turkmenistan and Guam are four points behind the leaders, but have one less game to play, that means they both need to win their home games on Tuesday to stay in.

Group F is the one already down to four teams after Indonesia were disqualified. Thailand won today’s game, 4-2 against Chinese Taipei (aka Taiwan). The eight point lead they now hold looks good, but it is very assailable. Thailand have only one game to play, while Iraq play three times, with the last two games being home matches (actually to be played in Iran, which is to some extent adding insult to injury). Iraq travel to Taiwan on Tuesday. Chinese Taipei have lost four games to date, and are sure to finish bottom of the group if they lose, but can still get second if they win their two games. Vietnam do not play this month, but have two games in March.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 14 Nov 2015, 23:07 
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151. Mozambique
Mozambique exit, leaving 150 teams still in the World Cup. They are the first to go in Africa's second round. The round consists of two legged matches with a strong seeding. All the seeded teams were drawn away for the second legs, while the teams thought to be the strongest all came up against teams who had to play an earlier round (and hence were considered weakest). Mozambique were excused the first round, but were not seeded. The last of the first legs in this round were played today. There will be five more results tomorrow and 14 on Tuesday. With some teams dropping out in Asia, the numbers left in contention will drop below 130.

Mozambique came close to reaching the group stage, winning their home leg by 1-0. Gabon leveled the scores two minutes into the game in Libreville, but could not build on this. The game went through extra time without another goal, with Gabon only progressing, by 4-3 in a penalty shoot out.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 15 Nov 2015, 16:08 
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150. Togo
Togo, who I have seen play in front of 48,000 at the finals in Germany drop out without much fight. Farouk Miya scored the goal in Togo which gave Uganda a first leg lead, and then followed this up with two more just before half time. Massa is also on the scoresheet as Uganda go through with a 4-0 aggregate.

149. Sudan
Sudan were also 1-0 down from their home leg. Winston Kalengo who scored this goal also scored in the second leg for Zambia. Sudan held the scores without losing another until after half time, but eventually went out by 3-0 on aggregate.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 15 Nov 2015, 18:35 
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148. Burundi
This should have been one of the more straight forward of ties, Burundi's seeding was low enough to force them into playing the first round, where they comfortably moved past the Seychelles. They have never qualified for the World Cup, or even the finals of the African Cup of Nations. By comparison, DR Congo have played in the World Cup finals (as Zaire, in 1974), and regularly play in the Cup of Nations, finishing 3rd in this years edition.

It starts smoothly enough - Crystal Palace's Yannick Bolaise put the Congo team ahead within 5 minutes of the start of the away leg, but before half time, Cedric Amissi had scored the equaliser, and then with seven minutes to go, Burundi were ahead, Amissi scoring again. It was down to substitute Mubele (who plays for Al Alhi, Qatar) to rescue to situation with two goals in the final minutes.

In Kinshasa for the second leg, one expects a smooth passage for the DR Congo, and again they score first, but an own goal brought the day's score level. Bolaise again got on the scoresheet with a penalty 12 minutes from time, while right at the end, Burundi scored a second, Abdul Razak, who got all three against Seychelles again the scorer. Congo hang on for a 5-4 aggregate win.

147. Equatorial Guinea
Morocco fell just below the seeding line, partly due to not playing in the last African Cup of Nations after pulling out of staging the competition. Equatorial Guinea, in contrast had been disqualified from Cup of Nations qualification for fielding an ineligible player against Mauritania. (Mauritania themselves fell in the next round). They however got re-instated and passed straight to the finals when they stepped in to replace the Moroccans as host.

The feeling that this was the most likely match to go against seeding was confirmed in the first leg as Morocco won 2-0 with El-Arabi (Granada) and Bammou (Nantes) scoring. Equatorial Guinea managed to score early in the second leg, but the match score stayed 1-0 and Morocco move through 2-1 on aggregate


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 15 Nov 2015, 22:54 
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146. Namibia
No surprise from Casablanca, where Guinea who are still forced to play their games on the road due to the Ebola epidemic came through unscathed. Guinea were 1-0 from the first leg, increased the lead just before half time and added another around 10 minutes before the end

14 more African Nations, and a smattering of Asians (up to six) will have their chances ended on Tuesday


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 18 Nov 2015, 21:45 
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If I get the chance (possibly tomorrow), I shall try to post a little more but for now, Tuesday's numbers in order.

145. Guam
144. Chinese Taipei
143. Bahrain
142. Myanmar
141. Singapore
140. Turkmenistan
139. Rwanda
138. Niger
137. Ethiopia
136. Swaziland
135. Comoros
134. Philippines
133. Chad
132. Mauritania
131. Liberia
130. Angola
129. Benin
128. Tanzania
127. Madagascar
126. Botswana
125. Kenya


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 01 Feb 2016, 08:07 
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FIFA have given Myanmar a "default 3-0" win for the game against Kuwait that did not take place due to the Kuwaiti suspension.
I think this shows that if Kuwait do not get their suspension lifted in time, their remaining matches will also be awarded against them, (as opposed to annulling the earlier results)

The immediate effect of this decision, is that South Korea, who could only be passed by a Kuwaiti team winning all three remaining games have qualified for the next phase. Lebanon, meanwhile will just need to pick up points in their final games (South Korea away, followed by Myanmar at home) to reach second place, although they are unlikely to make the cut for the next round, (only half the second place teams go through)


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 25 Mar 2016, 00:05 
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124. Lebanon (to be confirmed)
Losing by a single injury time goal to South Korea (who keep their record of 100% and no goals conceded in the ground), means that while Lebanon will finish second in the group unless Myanmar beat them on Tuesday, Lebanon cannot be one of the best four second placed teams. However, this goes with the assumption that FIFA disciplinary committee award this week's two unplayed games as 3-0 defeats for Kuwait, (as happened with the game Kuwait did not play in November). If FIFA should decide Kuwait are disqualified, and this becomes a four team group, then Lebanon could be one of the four which qualify. Kuwait themselves remain in the competition until FIFA's decision, as if the games were re-arranged, they can finish second themselves

123. Kyrgyzstan
Not playing today, but their slim chances of making second place were well and truly dashed by Jordan's 8-0 win at home to Bangladesh. Jordan now go to play Australia, where a win would take them to the top of the group. Jordan won their home game against Australia. Meanwhile, the Aussies beat Tajikistan by 7-0

122. Palestine
The Palestinian cause is not helped by a 2-0 loss to UAE, which means they will finish third in their group. Saudi Arabia beat Malaysia 2-0 as well, and they still lead the group by three points, and three goals better on goal difference. Hence is UAE beat Saudi in the last game by 2-0, (UAE are at home), then they take the group. There is a good chance that whoever finishes second will also go into the next round, especially if UAE do not lose the final game

121. Hong Kong
Hong Kong's final game is a 2-0 defeat in Qatar - Qatar still have a 100% record prior to Tuesday's visit to China. China beat the Maldives by 4-0 and hold a 16 goal advantage over Hong Kong. Even if Qatar were to win by such a margin as to place Hong Kong in second place, HK would still not be one of the second placed teams going through. China still have a chance to be one of the best second placed teams, but I feel this requires a win over Qatar.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 27 Mar 2016, 12:58 
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A big round of games this week, especially in Asia, where it is the end of a stage. In the UK, the media focus will be in Jordan (now known as Harry Redknapp's Jordan) and their attempt to win in Australia and hence continue in the tournament

Of course, it is not clear to what extent Redknapp is in charge. He did not take up the appointment in time for him to actually scout his team, so it is a case of being at training sessions, and maybe a motivational speech (through a translator!) The 8-0 win over Bangladesh is in fact unremarkable. It may be a goal or two more than expected, but it is an easy win in a game where an easy win was expected. Redknapp's only objective therefore is a win against Australia on Tuesday.

Jordan are two points behind Australia, so a win in Sydney places them on two of the group and into the next round of qualifying. The bookies do not see much hope - the best odds one can find for Australia is 14 to 1 on. Surprisingly sparse considering Jordan beat Australia in their home match last October.

If they fail to beat Australia, then Jordan will have to look to the "second place table" to see if they continue in the qualification process. Four of the eight teams finishing second going into the next round, and since one group has only four teams, thanks to Indonesia being suspended by FIFA and consequently disqualified from playing, the results against the fifth placed team in all other groups is discounted in making up this table.

As Jordan have beat Australia once, it is not their results against Australia that will see them out of the competition, but against Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan will finish third in the group, but took four points from their games against Jordan

So in pure terms, the prognosis for Group B is
Final day: Australia (18 points) v Jordan (16)
Australia win group unless Jordan win.
Second place: Jordan 10-11 points, or Australia 12 points.

Looking at the other groups - generally similar patterns
Group A
UAE (16) v Saudia Arabia (19)
Saudi wins group unless UAE win by 2 goals or more
Second place, UAE 10-11 points, Saudi 13

Group c
China (14) v Qatar (21)
Qatar group winners. China second place (8-11 points)

Group D
Iran (17) v Oman (14)
Oman need an eight goal margin to win group
Oman 8-11 second place points

Group E
Japan (19) v Syria (18)
Japan top unless Syria win
Syria 12-13 second place points
Japan 13

Group F
Four team group - Thailand group winner and no fixture
Iraq (9) v Vietnam (7)
Iraq take second place with a draw or win (10-12 points)
Vietnam second only if they win (10 points)

Group G
South Korea group winners. Match against Kuwait is off, due to Kuwait being suspended by FIFA
Lebanon move into second place assuming they do not lose at home to Myanmar, but have a maximum of seven second place points, and so must fail to move on

Group H
Uzbekistan (18) v Bahrain (9)
Philippines (7) v North Korea (16)
Uzbekistan expected to win the group. They are top if they win, if they draw and North Korea cannot overturn a five goal advantage.
North Korea will have 10-13 second place points in the hardest one to call.

Hence, the final day looks mostly like a sorting out of second placed teams. We know that the Group E runners-up (probably Syria, possibly Japan) will go through, and that Lebanon cannot qualify from Group G

We still await the FIFA disciplinary meeting on Kuwait's results where there are three possibilities, (in order of likelihood)
1) Both Kuwait's remaining games are awarded 3-0 to their opponents
2) Kuwait are disqualified, and the group is re-calculated without their results, (which re-instates Lebanon as it gives them 12 second placed points)
3) Kuwait have their suspension lifted and are allowed to re-arrange the final two games, (irrelevant if eleven second place points are required, as Kuwait cannot get more than 10).

One expects that the cut off point will depend on goal difference at 11 points, so North Korea and Iraq know that winning in their final game gives them the edge.

Meanwhile, in CONCACAF region

There were nearly 55,000 watching Mexico play Canada in Vancouver, where the Canadians lost 3-0. Should Mexico win again at home, then they are through to the next round. El Salvador and Honduras drew 2-2 leaving all the other positions open. There is one unlikely scenario that sees Honduras getting knocked out this week

Both Jamaica v Costa Rica (1-1) and Haiti v Panama (0-0) finished in draws, so Costa Rica stay top of the group (7 points), Haiti bottom (1 point), with the other pair on 4.

Guatemala beat the United States by 2-0, meaning the USA have not been having a great time away, after a 2-2 draw in Trinidad & Tobago. T&T won 3-2 at St Vincent and the Grenadines, and top the group on 7 points, Guatemala on 6, USA 4. St Vincent and the Grenadines have lost three games, and will be out if they lose again - even a draw would not be good enough if Guatemala can complete a double over the USA in the return game in Columbus.


and finally
The top four in the South America group all drew
Ecuador (1st, 13 points) v Paraguay (4th, 8 points) and
Brazil (3rd, 8 points) v Uruguay (2nd, 10 points).
The results were 2-2, as was the result of
Peru v Venezuela, the Venezuelan's first point in the series

The other games resulted in away wins for
Columbia in Bolivia (3-2) and Argentina in Chile (2-1). This means Argentina jump above Chile to fifth place and 8 points, while Columbia have 7 (same as Chile).

So, the next series of games sees the group reach one third of the way through, with Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela all looking to fall further behind. The big match this week will be Columbia v Ecuador, can the group leaders keep on track?

Europe does not start World Cup qualification until September, the Africans are currently playing their Cup of Nations qualification, so their World Cup games restart in October, while Oceania reconvenes with their Nations Cup tournament in Papua New Guinea at the end of May, with six teams progressing to the next World Cup round.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 29 Mar 2016, 22:42 
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Today's exits in Asia

120. Vietnam - knocked out when beaten 1-0 by Iraq
119. Jordan - still in the contest after losing 5-1 in Australia, the newly christened Harry Redknapp's Jordan will soon return to being simply Jordan. Wins for Iraq and China mean they cannot make the cut as one of the best second placed teams

118. Oman - beaten 2-0 by Iran, which left Oman unable to make the second place cut

117. North Korea - after losing 3-2 in the Philippines, the North Koreans needed UAE to lose by 11 goals to Saudi Arabia. Instead, the Arabian derby ended 1-1 meaning Saudi win the group, with UAE one of the best second place teams (along with Iraq, Syria (despite a 5-0 defeat in Japan) and China).

It also means that even if FIFA were to readmit Kuwait, and they then win the two games called off this week, they cannot be one of the best second place teams, so
116. Kuwait
(as an aside, if all Kuwait's results are removed, it is not enough to elevate Lebanon above China and back into the competition - Lebanon needed to beat Myanmar to open that possibility, but only drew 1-1)


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 30 Mar 2016, 06:37 
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115. St. Vincent and the Grenadines
A 6-0 defeat to Trinidad & Tobago, their fourth straight defeat in this round ends their chances.

In the same group USA avenged last week's defeat with a 4-0 win over Guatemala, which means that T&T and USA are favourites to go through to the final round in September

No problems for Mexico, who have already reached that stage, Honduras beat El Salvador giving them a slight advantage in trying to join Mexico in the final round. Costa Rica beat Jamaica and should go through, Haiti lost in Panama and should go out

The bottom three in South America all lost and are looking stranded as the other seven bid for the four direct and one play-off place, Venezuela went down 1-4 at home to Chile, Bolivia lost (2-0) in Argentina, while Peru went down by a single goal in Uruguay. The result lifts Uruguay to the top of the table, after Ecuador lost for the first time, by 3-1 to Columbia. Paraguay and Brazil drew 2-2 which leaves the pair in the non-qualifying positions at the moment, but only one point behind Columbia and Chile, only four behind group leaders Uruguay. With only six out of 18 games played, it should be too early to panic

That's it until early June, when the next two teams out will be from Oceania


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 14 May 2016, 11:31 
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It appears that this has to be renamed 211 to One, as FIFA have elected Gibraltar and Kosovo and allowed them into the European qualification groups. Hence I expect to re-use number 116/115 for two Oceania teams knocked out on 4th and 5th June
(at a guess, 116 Vanuatu, 115 Samoa)


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 01 Jun 2016, 13:58 
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The Oceania Nations Cup/World Cup Qualifying round is being played this week. My guess in the previous post is looking accurate, but then it does not take a footballing genius to get this right.

The competition is being played as two groups of four. The top two in each group continue into knock out games for the Oceania Nations Cup (which in turns feeds to next summer's confederations cup), while three from each group carries on to the next stage of the World Cup qualifying.

After two games in each group, the situation is
Group A: New Caledonia and Tahiti have four points, each, New Caledonia lead the group after a seven goal demolition of Samoa, while Tahiti won their game 4-0. Both have drawn with hosts Papua New Guinea, which means the leaders play each other on Sunday, while PNG play Samoa. The PNG-Samoa game will go first, so PNG know they need a simple draw to stay in the World Cup, but a five goal win to be sure of staying in the Nations Cup.
The PNG-Tahiti game sounds like the pick of the sessions so far, the hosts went 1-0 up on the stroke of half time and added a second early second half, after Nick Vallar of Tahiti was sent off. Tahiti then fought back to pick up a point with goals from Alvin Tehau, and his cousin, Teaonui Tehau.

Group B: New Zealand have won both their games, against Fiji and Vanuatu. Fiji in turn have beaten the Solomon Islands, while the Solomon Islands won against Vanuatu. The group concludes on Saturday, when the form book suggests New Zealand will beat the Solomon Islands, Fiji will beat Vanuatu, leaving the two winners on the day in the Nations Cup semi-finals, and the Solomon Islands also still in the World Cup


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 04 Jun 2016, 13:47 
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116 (again). Vanuatu
Despite a surprise win against Fiji after two defeats, Vanuatu go out on goal difference. Vanuatu end up on -5, compared to Fiji (-2) and Solomon Islands (-1). The Solomon Islands lost to New Zealand by a single goal today


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Jun 2016, 09:18 
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115 (again). Samoa
No complications here. An 8-0 defeat by Nations Cup tournament hosts Papua New Guinea means Samoa have lost all three group games, no goals scored and 19 against. The three teams that beat them (PNG, New Caledonia and Tahiti) all progress to the next round of the World Cup, although New Caledonia play Tahiti later this morning to decide which of the pair competes in the Nations Cup semi-final round.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 03 Sep 2016, 21:33 
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A busy World Cup week has started, with important matches in South America and Asia, but it is the CONCACAF region that sees teams knocked out, so I'll summarise there, and come back to the rest next week.

First up was the USA visiting St. Vincent and the Grenadines. SVG surprised many by appearing in this round, but this is a step too far. USA inflicted their fifth consecutive defeat, with a comprehensive 6-0 margin. The result temporarily took USA to top of the group, as their goal difference exceeded that of Trinidad and Tobago.
This lasted until T&T themselves played - a home game against Guatemala. Guatemala scored first, through Ruiz, but Joevin Jones levelled the scores in injury time just before the break, and added a second to put T&T on their way. Still, despite Jiminez being dismissed with six minutes to play, Ruiz managed to level the scores for Guatemala with three to go.

The result means that Trinidad & Tobago are in the final round in the area, while USA still need a point from their final home game to be certain, (if USA win, they are group winners). Guatemala entertain SVG knowing that if USA slip up, they could still need a double figure haul to overtake them

Meanwhile, the second game of the day saw Honduras beat Canada 2-1. Canada scored first through James. Again, the equaliser came in injury time before the break. Honduras scored again five minutes after the break. The result means Honduras are three points ahead of Canada, and also have a five points goal difference advantage.

Taking the next games in time order, we move on to Haiti, who needed to win against group leaders Costa Rica to stand a chance of staying in. A single goal was scored in the 71st minute, it was to the away side Costa Rica, so its
114. Haiti

Kicking off a little later, Jamaica were only three points behind Panama at the start of the day. It was Lausanne's Gabriel Torres that turned the tide against them, while there was a late goal to make it to nil, so Adios to
113. Jamaica

Costa Rica and Panama both move into the next round

This left the final match of the day, already qualified Mexico visiting El Salvador. A penalty by Larin on 24 minutes gave hope to the home side, but three second half goals, by Hector Moreno, Angel Seulveda and Jiminez meant Mexico won 3-1, and ended the hopes of
112. El Salvador

That leaves two to drop out on Wednesday morning (UK time), the first will almost certainly be Guatemala, one cannot see the USA losing at home to Trinidad and Tobago and letting them in.
The final place is more open. Mexico may well end up with six wins out of six in their group, and if there are a couple of goals involved, then it opens the door for Canada to win at home to El Salvador by enough goals to nick the place


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 10 Sep 2016, 08:46 
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Two more took the drop on Wednesday, as CONCACAF geared up for their final "Hexagonal" round.

First up were the group C games, Trinidad & Tobago, already through were playing in the USA while Guatemala were at home to already out Saint Vincent & the Grenadines. Guatemala not only needed the USA to lose at home, but also needed to pick up a 12 goal difference on the USA.
Things did not start well for Guatemala, as SVG scored the game's opening goal, but by half time they lead 4-2. The USA broke through the T&T defence just before the break when former Anderlecht player Sacha Kjestan scored.
By the hour mark, Guatemala's lead had been extended to 7-2 (Carlos Ruiz had five of them) and they were still hoping to hear of something miraculous from Florida.
It was not to be, within three minutes, Altidore scored twice to put the USA beyond catching. This must have affected things in Guatemala as the pressure was wound down, and SVG even scored a third goal in the final minute - meaning they ended on the wrong end of a 9-3 scoreline. By completing a 4-0 win, the USA took top spot in a group to go through with Trinidad and Tobago.

In group B, Costa Rica and Panama had both qualified, so the only change could have been a big away win to allow Pananma to head the group. This did not happen with Costa Rica ending up as 3-1 winners. In the other game, Haiti won 2-0 in Jamaica (they had lost at home in the earlier game). This was enough to lift Haiti above Jamaica in the group.

So finally, Group A. In a strange twist, El Salvador claimed they were being bribed to get a win or keep the score down. They turned this down. Relationships between El Salvador and Honduras have never been great, ever since simmering tensions between the countries boiled over into war after a game in 1969. Strangely, with this "bribe" in mind - it was heavy defeat for El Salvador that could have knocked Honduras out. Canada needed to make up five goals in Honduras, assuming Honduras lost in Mexico.

In the end though, it did not matter - Mexico made four changes from the team that won in El Salvador and were held by Honduras to 0-0, while Canada's 3-1 win was never clear enough to threaten the status quo

So for the numbers game, it was
111. Guatemala
110. Canada

Meanwhile in South America, the group is showing a shape with eight out of 18 rounds played.

Ecuador, who had surprised many with the early success fell at home 0-3 to Brazil, after Neymar opened the scoring with a 72nd minute penalty. Ecuador then also lost in Peru, while Brazil beat Columbia 2-1, Neymar scoring the winner this time. Argentina briefly went to the top of the group table, with Messi scoring the only goal of a win over Uruguay, but Messi then missed the trip to bottom team Venezuela, where Argentina were suprisingly held 2-2. Uruguay's 4-0 win over Paraguay puts them back on top with 16 points.

Brazil are now second, with Argentina also on 15 points. Columbia and Ecuador are both on 13, (the fourth team qualifies, the fifth goes to the play off). Ecuador's record of four wins, one draw and three defeats was in order - they started with four wins, but now have lost three in a row.

Paraguay have 12 points, Chile 11 - so both still harbour serious chances of going through. Bolivia and Peru, both on 7 will be making optimistic noises, while bottom placed Venezuela may be celebrating their point against Argentina, but it is only their second point, and they will be surely the first from the continent to go out, possibly around Match day 14 in March.

IN Europe, the qualification games final got underway, while in Asia there were the first pair of matches for each team in the third round. The top two in each group of six goes through to the finals.

Group A saw China get off to their traditionally poor start. With all the money in the Chinese game at the moment, they cannot stop their national team from under performing. Still, China pulled back from 3-0 down to lose 3-2 to South Korea in Seoul, and then were held at home (0-0) by Iran. Iran and South Korea are the groups top seeds. Iran had earlier won 2-0 at home to Qatar. The records show the Iranians opened the scoring four minutes into injury time, and added the second seven minutes later. South Korea followed the game against China with a trip to the small Malaysian state capital of Seremban, (I used to work not far from there), where the exiled Syrian team managed a 0-0 draw. Syria had lost their opening game 1-0 in Uzbekistan, and as the Uzbeks repeated the 1-0 scoreline in Qatar, they now top the group as the only team with two wins.
Less than 8,000 in attendance in Qatar.

In group B, Australia (home to Iraq, away to UAE) and Saudi Arabia (home to Thailand, away (but played in Malaysia) to Iraq), both have six points. The surprise was Japan's opening 1-2 home defeat by UAE, but they have recovered somewhat with a 2-0 win in Thailand. Hence Japan and UAE have three points, Thailand and Qatar none.

European highlights
Group A - France draw 1-1 in Belarus
Group B - Switzerland 2-0 Portugal
Group D - A confident start for Wales
Group F - England need a last minute goal to save their blushes, Scotland hit five against the minnows in Malta
Group G - Spain hit 8 past Liechtenstein, Italy win in Israel
Group I - all three games end 1-1, with Kosovo picking up a point in Finland


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 17 Mar 2017, 20:27 
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The March World Cup qualifiers are the least popular with the European clubs, presenting an unwanted break at a critical time of the season, and of course, potential for players to receive injuries while not on club duty.

UEFA teams have one match only in March, and one only in June, although many combine these with friendlies in both periods. In the other continents, many have double headers both in March and June, although Africa is not using either date.
So, starting the preview with Europe, where the groups reach their half way stage. Nothing is decided, but we are getting a clear view of who may qualify, and no one in contention has much scope for dropping points at this stage

Three groups play games on Friday night, with two having an early start – in Group D, Serbia play Georgia, and can expect to lead the table (at least temporarily) ahead of the Ireland-Wales clash. All three leading teams are unbeaten to date, but Wales have been held in games against Austria and Georgia, and could be left behind. Ireland are in a better position and a win would mean they stay top, with every chance of still being there when they face Serbia in September. The third game is Austria (who may still believe they can reach second) against Moldova (who know they won’t)

The other early match is in Group I, where Turkey are at home to Finland. A home win is expected, keeping the Turks in contention and waiting on the key clash when Croatia (ten points) play Ukraine (8). The winner of this is top of the group and clear favourites to go to Russia. The third game sees Kosovo playing at home to Iceland.

Also on Friday, we have Group G, where one (or both) of Liechtenstein or Macedonia will pick up their first points. Spain and Italy (both with three wins and a draw to date) both have home games, against Israel (9 points) and Albania (6) respectively. If the expected home wins occur, the group becomes a two horse race.

On Saturday, Sweden start proceedings, at home to Belarus. A home win is expected here, and France should keep their advantage in the group by winning in Luxembourg. The interesting game is the Netherlands’ visit to Bulgaria. Like Sweden, the Netherlands have seven points to date, while Bulgaria are on 6.

In Group B, Switzerland will try to keep their 100% record with the home game against Latvia, while the Faroe Islands play in Andorra. Once these are over, attention turns to the main event with Portugal playing Hungary. The Portuguese have won all three games after their 2-0 defeat in the opening game in Switzerland, so a home win will make the group appear as a two team race, possible right up to Switzerland’s final game when they travel to Portugal

In Group G, little attention will be paid to Cyprus against Estonia, both have lost three out of four with their points coming in home wins against Gibraltar. Gibraltar themselves would consider any point gained to make this a successful campaign, but their hopes are pinned on the returns against Estonia and Cyprus not on their visit to third placed Bosnia (7 points). The big game sees Belgium, 100% and leading, play Greece (who dropped points by drawing with Bosnia in the last game).

Three more groups play on Sunday, with the Germans (another 100% team so far) facing the potentially tricky trip to Azerbaijan (7 points). Northern Ireland are also on 7 points after their emphatic win over Azerbaijan in November, and they will be at home to a Norwegian side who have disappointed so far (only three points). San Marino are the true group minnows, and play the Czech Republic (5 points)

From Group E, the game to ignore is Armenia (3 points) against Kazakhstan (2). Later on, fourth placed Romania (5) play third placed Denmark (6), while second placed Montenegro (7) face leaders Poland (10).

Finally, Group G, where England lead, but everyone excluding Malta still have hopes. England have the first game, and with home advantage they need to keep top slot in their game against Lithuania (5). Scotland (4 points) can then do both themselves and England a favour if they can beat Slovenia (8 points, second place). Scotland play England in June. The other game sees Slovakia (6 points) playing away in Malta (0).

Across the other side of the World, in Oceania they are now down to six teams playing in two groups of three. The two group winners will then play for a place in a play-off (against a South American team). In the first pair of games, New Zealand picked up four points against New Caledonia. If they can repeat (or better) this against Fiji, then New Zealand have reached the final and the matches between New Caledonia and Fiji in June will be dead rubbers. In the other group, Solomon Islands and Tahiti had both won 1-0 at home to the other in November, but Tahiti’s win was later upgraded to the default 3-0 at Solomon Islands had fielded an ineligible player, (Henry Fa'arodo, who should have been suspended). This month, Tahiti play Papua New Guinea, and will at minimum set a target for the teams in the final game. If PNG do not get at least a point in the two games, then they will of course be eliminated.

In South America, the singular ten team group is getting to the interesting stage, especially for Argentina, who are currently in the play-off position. The bottom two are Venezuela and Bolivia and we are only waiting for their non-qualification to become mathematical certainties. It is possible that one or both could drop out this month. Venezuela face Peru at home, and then Chile away, while Bolivia’s home game (against Argentina) comes after a trip to Columbia. Brazil could be the first to claim a place in Russia, but they will probably have to wait until the next series of fixtures. Brazil visit second placed Uruguay in their first game, and then play at home to Paraguay. For Brazil to get through this time, should they win both then they would require two out of Ecaudor, Chile, Argentina and Columbia to be stranded on 20 points. For Ecuador (Paraguay away, Columbia home) or Chile (Argentina away, Venezuela home) this would mean two defeats, for Argentina (Chile home, Bolivia away) it means no better than a draw and for Columbia (Bolivia home, Ecuador away) it means no wins.

In North America, only two games have been played to date in the ten game, six team series that is “the Hex”. Top three in this reach Russia, with the fourth team playing off against an Asia contender. After the USA lost their opener at home to Mexico, and followed this up with being crushed 4-0 in Costa Rica, all eyes will be on whether they can make a recovery, They play at home to Honduras first, but then visit Panama. The Panamanians are third in the group as they followed their opening win in Honduras with a scoreless draw against Mexico. Mexico themselves are second and open with the home game against Costa Rica before visiting Trinidad & Tobago (who like the USA have two losses so far).

Finally, Asia. Here we have two groups of six, with the top two qualifying, and the third placed teams playing off for a play off against the team they finishes fourth in the North American Hex. We basically know of five teams that are not going to make it, although this may not become mathematical certainties this month. Anyway, do not put money on China, Qatar Syria, Thailand or Iraq being in Russia.Iran lead group A, a point ahead of South Korea, who in turn are a point ahead of Uzbekistan. All three travel for their first game this month, Qatar v Iran, China v South Korea and Syria v Uzbekistan (in Malaysia), and then all three are at home, Iran v China, South Korea v Syria and Uzbekistan v Qatar. In the event of all three of Iran, South Korea and Uzbekistan winning twice, then they will be guaranteed to fill the top three slots, all the other trio are out

In Group B, Saudi Arabia and Japan have ten points each from five games, while Australia and UAE have nine. Saudi Arabia play Thailand (away) followed by Iraq (home) and should cement their position at the top. UAE play the most challenging series, with Japan at home, followed by a trip to Australia, so it will be interesting to see if they can keep up their challenge. Australia have to play their away game to Iraq (which is played in Iran) first, while Japan have a home match against Thailand.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 28 Mar 2017, 22:47 
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109. Fiji
Playing in a group of 3 in Oceania, Fiji needed to pick up at least three points from two games against New Zealand to have a chance of qualifying. This is due to the fact that New Caledonia, who played their two games against New Zealand back in November picked up only one point. As it was, New Zealand triumphed by 2-0 both home and away. Leeds United's Chris Wood had opened the scoring with a penalty in Fiji in the first game, while Ryan Thomas of PEC Zwolle scored both back in New Zealand. The result meant simultaneous elimination for
108. New Caledonia New Caledonia now play Fiji twice in June, but these are dead rubbers.

107. Thailand
The Thais become the first of the Asian teams to go out in their third round. With only one point from six games, it was always a question of when, not if. When Australia beat UAE by 2-0, it meant that only a win away to Japan would keep Thailand in. Two goals in each half meant this was not going to happen. In the final group game, Saudi Arabia beat Iraq 1-0. Iraq now need to win all three remaining games, and hope Australia lose all three if they are to make it to the play off. Australia are in the play off position, four points ahead of UAE, but three behind both Saudi Arabia and Japan.
In the other Asian group, all six games this month finished 1-0, with only Iran's victory in Qatar being an away win. The biggest surprise was that China stayed in with a slim chance when they beat South Korea, (they lost to Iran in the second game), while the BBC did a big feature leading up to Syria's win over Uzbekistan http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/syria_football_on_the_frontline. The result was followed by subsequent defeat in South Korea. With three to play it is Iran 17 points, South Korea 13, Uzbekistan 12, Syria 8, China 5 and Qatar 4. Two from the group qualify for the finals, while the third place goes into the play-offs.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 29 Mar 2017, 21:54 
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A little shock in South America. Argentina were told less than 6 hours before kick off that Messi was to be suspended for four games, having been caught out for abusive language towards the fourth official in their previous game. Argentina had won five out of six games with Messi playing, but only one in seven without him. Bolivia needed to win to stay in contention for a little longer, but all seven points had come from home games. It would have been ten if they had not had a played an ineligible player in one game and had it awarded against them, (the same player cost them, their only away point). However when later in the evening Venezuela were beaten 3-1 by Chile, it meant the end, not only for
106. Venezuela, but it also meant that
105, Bolivia were now out as well.
Over half the 211 entrants have now lost their chance of reaching the finals, and we also have one qualifier for Russia.
Not surprisingly this is
2. Brazil (I am counting Russia as 1)

Although, Brazil are only 11 points ahead of Argentina, who now sit in the play-off position, Argentina play in Uruguay in the next game, so it is not possible for both to catch Brazil, meaning they must finish in the four positions that get direct qualification for the finals.

Between Brazil who qualify, and Bolivia and Venezuela who cannot - the rest of the group is incredibly tight. WIth four games to go, it is Columbia 24 points, Uruguay and Chile 23, Argentina 22, Ecuador 20, Peru and Paraguay 18.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Jun 2017, 08:15 
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June Qualification Games

UEFA

This is the 6th round out of ten, so no team will confirm its place in the finals, nor be knocked out.
However, there are some key matches

Group A: Sweden v France – the game in France was Sweden’s only defeat to date, but if the French can win this as well, they have a clear route to the finals.

Group D: Serbia v Wales, Republic of Ireland v Austria. The two home teams are level on points at the top of the group, while the away teams are each four points behind. Hence if only one of Serbia or Ireland win, they are gaining an advantage ahead of the two meeting in September. Both Wales and Austria are desperate to pick up points to keep up a challenge

Group F: Scotland v England – the Scots do not appear to be capable of qualifying, but they raise their game when England visits, and they can still put a spanner in the auld enemy’s case. An England win keeps them very much on track with both their strongest opponents still having to come to Wembley

Group G: Israel v Albania – the expectation is that Spain v Italy in September will decide first and second in this group. Israel need to win this if they are to hold onto their chance of upsetting the odds.

Group H: Bosnia v Greece – The key game between second and third place. With both having home games against Belgium to come, this group is still wide open.

Group I: Iceland v Croatia – Second v top in a tight group. If Iceland win, with Ukraine (in Finland) and Turkey (in Kosovo) both expected to win their away ties, then the top four will be separated by two points. A win for Croatia would give them a clear lead, and mean the other three are fighting over the second spot.

Oceania
Group A has been settled, with New Zealand progressing, but Group B could still go in any direction. The two games are between Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, with the Solomon Islands at home first. If either side gets four points from the two, they are through. If both games are drawn, then Tahiti gets the nod. If it’s one win each, then all three teams are on six points, and goal difference comes into play. Tahiti have an advantage, mainly because the Solomon Islands fielded a player who should have been serving a ban when they met in November. This means that Tahiti’s 1-0 win was awarded as 3-0. Tahiti have a plus three goal difference, which would be difficult for either PNG (-1) or Solomon Islands (-2) to catch with a one win, one defeat scenario.

Africa & South America
There are no games in Africa or South America during June qualifying

CONCACAF
Games five and six in the final group for the region. Mexico lead, and will face USA at the Aztec Stadium in the second of these games. The USA’s home defeat in the opening game highlighted a difficult start to the qualification route for the USA. Mexico have the advantage of two home games, and winning both will put them close to confirming their flight to Russia. The USA precede their trip across the border, (no walls yet) with a home game against Trinidad and Tobago. Costa Rica have two home games, (Panama, Trinidad and Tobago) and currently look good for qualification. It is Panama who have drawn attention so far, if they can get their second win in this group over Honduras, then they will fancy their chances of reaching the finals for the first time

Asia
Due to the Confederations Cup, Australia v Saudi Arabia is held a few days ahead of the other games. Should Australia win the game, then three teams in the group, (Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia) will be level on 16 points, at least until Japan go to play Iraq (in Iran). If Australia draw or win, then the Iraqis will be eliminated. In order to maintain their slim chances, UAE must win away to already eliminated Thailand
In the other group, Iran play at home to third placed Uzbekistan, knowing that a win will confirm their place in the finals. Qatar (home to South Korea) and China (playing their away game against Syria in Malaysia) must win to keep their very slim chances alive. However, South Korea are expected to win, and should make it to Russia. Should Syria beat China, they still have a good chance of overtaking Uzbekistan and making it to the play off.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Jun 2017, 13:50 
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leohoenig wrote:
June Qualification Games

UEFA

This is the 6th round out of ten, so no team will confirm its place in the finals, nor be knocked out.
However, there are some key matches

Group A: Sweden v France – the game in France was Sweden’s only defeat to date, but if the French can win this as well, they have a clear route to the finals.

Group D: Serbia v Wales, Republic of Ireland v Austria. The two home teams are level on points at the top of the group, while the away teams are each four points behind. Hence if only one of Serbia or Ireland win, they are gaining an advantage ahead of the two meeting in September. Both Wales and Austria are desperate to pick up points to keep up a challenge

Group F: Scotland v England – the Scots do not appear to be capable of qualifying, but they raise their game when England visits, and they can still put a spanner in the auld enemy’s case. An England win keeps them very much on track with both their strongest opponents still having to come to Wembley

Group G: Israel v Albania – the expectation is that Spain v Italy in September will decide first and second in this group. Israel need to win this if they are to hold onto their chance of upsetting the odds.

Group H: Bosnia v Greece – The key game between second and third place. With both having home games against Belgium to come, this group is still wide open.

Group I: Iceland v Croatia – Second v top in a tight group. If Iceland win, with Ukraine (in Finland) and Turkey (in Kosovo) both expected to win their away ties, then the top four will be separated by two points. A win for Croatia would give them a clear lead, and mean the other three are fighting over the second spot.

Oceania
Group A has been settled, with New Zealand progressing, but Group B could still go in any direction. The two games are between Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, with the Solomon Islands at home first. If either side gets four points from the two, they are through. If both games are drawn, then Tahiti gets the nod. If it’s one win each, then all three teams are on six points, and goal difference comes into play. Tahiti have an advantage, mainly because the Solomon Islands fielded a player who should have been serving a ban when they met in November. This means that Tahiti’s 1-0 win was awarded as 3-0. Tahiti have a plus three goal difference, which would be difficult for either PNG (-1) or Solomon Islands (-2) to catch with a one win, one defeat scenario.

Africa & South America
There are no games in Africa or South America during June qualifying

CONCACAF
Games five and six in the final group for the region. Mexico lead, and will face USA at the Aztec Stadium in the second of these games. The USA’s home defeat in the opening game highlighted a difficult start to the qualification route for the USA. Mexico have the advantage of two home games, and winning both will put them close to confirming their flight to Russia. The USA precede their trip across the border, (no walls yet) with a home game against Trinidad and Tobago. Costa Rica have two home games, (Panama, Trinidad and Tobago) and currently look good for qualification. It is Panama who have drawn attention so far, if they can get their second win in this group over Honduras, then they will fancy their chances of reaching the finals for the first time

Asia
Due to the Confederations Cup, Australia v Saudi Arabia is held a few days ahead of the other games. Should Australia win the game, then three teams in the group, (Japan, Saudi Arabia, Australia) will be level on 16 points, at least until Japan go to play Iraq (in Iran). If Australia draw or win, then the Iraqis will be eliminated. In order to maintain their slim chances, UAE must win away to already eliminated Thailand
In the other group, Iran play at home to third placed Uzbekistan, knowing that a win will confirm their place in the finals. Qatar (home to South Korea) and China (playing their away game against Syria in Malaysia) must win to keep their very slim chances alive. However, South Korea are expected to win, and should make it to Russia. Should Syria beat China, they still have a good chance of overtaking Uzbekistan and making it to the play off.


3-0 if England cruise it, 5 or 6 if they put the hammer down.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 08 Jun 2017, 14:50 
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104. Iraq. As I suggested in my preview, anything except an Australian defeat today would spell the end of Iraqi chances, and so it came to pass. The match shows an interesting contrast. Every player in the Saudi squad plays football in Saudi Arabia, except one non-playing substitute who transferred to Al Ain, of the United Arab Emirates in January. By contrast, the Australian starting XI included players playing in no less than 8 different national leagues, and another league was added from the bench. The only players who play club football in Australia were non playing substitutes.
Twice in the First half, Tomi Juric (Luzern, Switzerland) put the Socceroos ahead, but each time Saudi Arabia levelled, so it was 2-2 at the break. Tom Rogic (Celtic, Scotland) scored the winner in the second period.

There has been a dead rubber match in Oceania, with Fiji and New Caledonia drawing 2-2. There are three games in North and Central America tonight, all kicking off after midnight our time.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 09 Jun 2017, 07:18 
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In the overnight CONCACAF results, no away goals.
Mexico and USA will be happy with home wins over Honduras (3-0 to Mexico) and Trinidad & Tobago (2-0 to USA)
Costa Rica will be less happy at their scoreless draw against Panama.

Honduras (in Panama) and Trinidad & Tobago (in Costa Rica) suffer second away trips next week.
If (as I would expect) both lose, then we are moving towards a situation where they finish in the bottom two places of the group and go no further. The big one is Mexico v USA. Mexico are looking good result wise at the moment, having dropped points only in the away game in Panama, and of course they have won in USA. Defeat drops USA down to the play-off position again (assuming wins for Panama and Costa Rica), although one expects them to recover.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 09 Jun 2017, 07:35 
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Meanwhile the Solomon Islands have beaten Papua New Guinea 3-2
The Solomon Islands were 2-0 up at the break, but PNG fought back to level before Micah Leaalafa scored the winner
Should the Solomon Islands get a draw (or better) in PNG on Tuesday, they are through to play New Zealand in the OFC final
If Papua New Guinea win by 5 or more goals, they take the prize
If PNG win by a smaller margin, then it goes to Tahiti.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 10 Jun 2017, 09:23 
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103. Luxembourg. I had missed that European teams would get knocked out this weekend, but there it is with Luxembourg the first European to be certain of not heading to Russia. Let's be honest, everyone knew this would happen at some point. It is still complex though, Luxembourg could still get another 12 points, to add to the one gained when they drew in Belaurus last year. This would place them level with the top two team's current totals of 13 - and of course Luxembourg only have to finish second to potentially be in a play off. But whichever of the top two (or both if you prefer, they do not play each other) would have to lose to both Netherlands and Bulgaria to stay on 13 points. That brings Netherlands to 13 points, Bulgaria to 12 - and then there is the Netherlands v Bulgaria match in September, which adds a minimum of a point to the Netherlands, or three to Bulgaria. So its goodbye to the perennial minnow.
I saw a video of Giroud's spectacular goal which put France 1-0 up in Sweden, but it was to no avail as the Swedes fought back to win 2-1. This pair are now on 13 points each. Both drew their opening game in the competition, France in Belaurus, Sweden at home to the Netherlands, and each has one the home match against the other by 2-1. They have then won their other three intervening games. Bulgaria dropped away from third place, losing in Belaurus, while the Netherlands throashed the Luxembourgers by 5-0. So the Netherlands are three points behind the leaders and Bulgaria are 4. The August/September clashes here already look interesting, with France v Netherlands and Bulgaria v Sweden preceeding the Netherlands v Bulgaria clash.

In Group B, Switzerland recorded their sixth win (of 6) with a 2-0 win in the Faraoe Islands, while Portugal kept on their tails winning 3-0 in Latvia (only two for Ronaldo). The shock result was for Andorra, who beat Hungary with a Marc Rebes goal midway through the first half. Since joining the International football community, Andorra have played 98 games in European or Word Cup qualifying. In Euro matches, they have a perfect record, played 50, lost 50; but in the World Cup, they have fared a little better. They have actually won before, 1-0 against Macedonia on October 13 2004. That was their best ever campaign, as they managed two draws, (Macedonia away, Finland home), while the next two were ten straight defeats. SO that is 63 defeats, and three draws in competition since the last win. (the other draw was their match against the Faroe Islands in March). In fact, adding a friendly into the mix, this is Andorra's year (so far) as adding a win (in San Marino), their 2017 record is Pld 3, Won 2, draw 1, Scored 3 conceded nil.

Still, three teams in Group B - Latvia, Andorra and the Faroe Islands cannot catch Switzerland in top place and only need one defeat (or one Portugal win) to be out. The deciding game in the group looks to be the final match, the return between Portugal and Switzerland

Group H was the other to play last night, with Belgium securing their top slot with a 2-0 win in Estonia. The Estonians playing the second half with only 10 men. Gibraltar conceded a late goal to lose 2-1 to Cyprus in their "home" game. With six stright defeats, Gibraltar would have been knocked out if either Greece or Bosnia-Herzegovina had won when in their meeting. No goals, so Greece are on 12 points (compared to 16 for Belgium) and Bosnia on 11.

More tonight, if Northern Ireland win in Azerbeijan, and San Marino lose in Germany, then San Marino are out, and if both Slovenia and Slovakia win, then Malta are out. Other results leave me checking the maths!


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 10 Jun 2017, 22:24 
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The order of tonight's knock outs is uncertain. Both were at the end of 7.45 kick offs

102. San Marino. For San Marino to be knocked out today, their (assumed inevitable) defeat in Germany had to be paired with a Northern Ireland win in Azerbeijan. It was therefore Stuart Dallas' late goal for the Irish that set up the knock out. Germany then had to act as they normally do, and ended up with a 7-0 win including a hat-trick for Sandro Wagner. The Czech Republic scored first, but ultimately drew (1-1) in Norway. Germany are sure to end up as group winners, but the two extra points thanks to that late goal put Northern Ireland in a very strong second position, four points better off than the Cech republic. A lead that could increase before they meet in the second of the September games.

101. Malta. As with San Marino, Malta's sixth consecutive defat was not enough on its own to knock them out. They are now 12 points behind second placed Slovakia, with four games to play. This is after Slovakia won in Lithuania. Malta's own 2-0 defeat was in Slovenia, who now have 11 points. Slovakia play Slovenia next, so Malta are out. England's lead is cut to two points after the thrilling draw at Hampden, which means the two remaining games at Wembley (Slovakia in September, Slovenia in October) are still crucial. Scotland are fourth on 8 points.

The other group of the day saw a hat-trick of goals for Lewandowski, including two penalties as Poland's march towards Russia continues. If they are allowed to fiddle the draw, Poland would play in the exclave of Kalininggrad, which has a Polish border!The win over Romania means Poland have a six point lead over Montenegro and Denmark, who both won today. Kazakhstan lost at home to Denmark, and are stranded on two points, while both Romania and Armenia on six have little chance of catching those above them.

New Caledonia and Fiji play in the early hours of tomorrow morning. Both are already out.
There are three more European groups tomorrow with potential elimination for Leichtenstein, Macedonia, Finland, Kosovo, and Moldova.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 11 Jun 2017, 21:53 
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Firstly Oceania, where New Caledonia beat Fiji 2-1, to finish second in their group. New Zealand already the only team to move on though

In European Group D, Moldova led 2-0 against Georgia, but were eventaully pegged back to 2-2. The two teams fill the bottom two places in the group, but will survive until September. Ireland drew after being 1-0 down at home to Austria, while Wales scored first in Serbia, before this game also finished 1-1. Serbia lead the group on goal difference from Ireland, with Wales and Austria both four points behind.

100. Kosovo
99. Finland.
Technically both out at the same moment, and down to a very late Icelandic goal. With their game against group leaders Croatia apparently heading for a 0-0 draw, it appeared that Iceland, Turkey and Ukraine would all finish the day on 11 points, meaning that if the trio all drew their games against each other, and one of Kosovo and Finland won their last four, we could have a four way tie on 13 points. You would have got good odds against it at any bookmaker. But Hoerdur Magnusson's late winner moved Iceland onto 13 points, level with Croatia. This means that while either Kosovo (lost 1-4 at home to Turkey) or Finland (lost 1-2 at home to Ukraine) can still reach 13, the top pair can only stay there by being overtaken by Turkey and Ukraine

98. Liechtenstein
97. Macedonia.
Again, these both went out at the same moment, as Macedonia were reported as finishing their 1-2 defeat at home to Spain, while Italy v Liechtenstein was still in progress. At that point, Macedonia still had a chance if Liechtenstein could suddenly win. As they were 5-0 down at the time, this was a somewhat forlorn hope. Both Italy and Spain have five wins and a draw from 6 games to date. In the other game, Israel lost 3-0 at home to Albania, suprisingly equalling their own win in Albania last November. It leaves both on 9 points, seven behind the leaders - the big game in this group, Spain v Italy is scheduled for September 2nd.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 12 Jun 2017, 07:25 
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The overnight Mexico v USA game involved an early goal for USA, and an equaliser before half time.
Reports say that Mexico dominated, but the USA hang on
You can see the goals at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBncUsnH3vM
I think you would argue that neither should be scored. Certainly the Mexico goalkeeper's position when Bradley opened the scoring leaves something to be desired.
When Carlos Velez equalises, he is looking for a shot which despite numerous men in the box, the USA cannot prevent or block.

The other games are not for two days, and assuming Panama keeps up their good run, they will push USA down to 4th place. However as the USA has both Costa Rica and Panama to come at home, with the away trips to what looks like easier opposition, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago, they should be able to climb back into the list of three direct qualifyers.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 12 Jun 2017, 23:34 
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Iran beat Uzbekistan by 2-0 today, and have therefore qualified for the finals.

3. Iran


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 13 Jun 2017, 13:51 
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leohoenig wrote:
Iran beat Uzbekistan by 2-0 today, and have therefore qualified for the finals.

3. Iran


What hope left for the Uzbekmen, Leo?


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