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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 13 Jun 2017, 14:33 
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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 
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Tahiti is of course, 95, not 85.
I thought I would include this comment, made on a different forum

Quote:
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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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 30 Aug 2017, 11:25 
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leohoenig wrote:
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.


Bolivia have tried to get the award of games against them reversed, but their appeals have been turned down. Technically therefore they were only knocked out this week, rather than the original mathematical one

Meanwhile, UAE beat Saudi Arabia in the early game in Asian qualifying, which means they continue to have a slim chance. They now travel to play Iraq (in Jordan), and need to win and make up 8 goals on either Saudi Arabia or Australia. One of Saudi Arabia (home to Japan), or Australia (Japan away, Thailand home) needs to be pointless in remaining games
A win for Japan against Australia tomorrow would mean they have qualified.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 31 Aug 2017, 14:06 
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With a 2-0 win over Australia, we have
4. Japan as group winners and through to the finals


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 31 Aug 2017, 15:00 
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94 Qatar, who were beaten 3-1 by Syria
China keep going to the final day, a late penalty meaning they beat Uzbekistan, and push the Uzbeks below Syria in the table
South Korea and Iran share a scoreless draw, meaning that if South Korea lose in Uzbekistan, they drop to the play off.
If Syria were also to win, (away to Iran), then South Korea would be out.

China need both the Uzbeks and Syria to lose, and to make up the goal difference deficit (Syria +1, Uzbeks -1, China -3)
- and of course, China need to win in Qatar


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 01 Sep 2017, 08:48 
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Catching up on results from last night.
Europe Group A.
The French stay on course with an emphatic 4-0 win over Netherlands, while Bulgaria shock Sweden with a 3-2 win.
Meanwhile, despite already being eliminated, Luxembourg score a rare victory, beating Belarus 1-0
The Dutch still have a chance of going through, with a home match against Bulgaria coming up
Belarus need to beat Sweden in order to avoid elimination

Europe Group B
Very much as expected, the top three teams in the group all had good wins over the bottom three.
All the same kick off time, so
93. Latvia. Bottom of the group, losing 3-1 in Hungary
92. Andorra. Lost 3-0 in Switzerland, a point better off than Latvia
91. Faroe Islands. Lost 5-1, including the inevitable Ronaldo hat-trick in Portugal
Faroe Islands have one more point than Andorra
Hungary are 8 behing Portugal, so they need to beat Portugal in the next game, or they are also out
Portugal are three points behind Switzerland, who in turn are on 100% record

Europe Group H
90. Gibraltar (No real reason for the ordering 93-90).
Gib went down by 9-0 in Belgium, hat-tricks for Lukaku and Meunier.
Dissapointing night for Greece, held 0-0 by Estonia (who therefore still have a mathematical chance), however, Bosnia's defeat in Cyprus means that Greece increase their lead in second place to 2 points.

South America
A couple of unexpected results, with Venezuela getting a 0-0 draw with Columbia, and Chile going down 3-0 at home to Paraguay. The big match, Uruguay v Argentina also ended scoreless, while Peru beat Bolivia. Already qualified Brazil did not mess about, beating Ecuador 2-0. Not much change at the top, but Peru and Paraguay both move ahead of Ecuador.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 01 Sep 2017, 09:24 
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Humiliating for Latvia...getting fewer points than the Faroes and Andorra.

Any eliminations on the cards tonight? Could be all over for Scotland?


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 01 Sep 2017, 12:04 
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Yes
No


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 01 Sep 2017, 19:23 
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Proving my first answer to RCS' troll, there was an early kick off in Kazakhstan
They lost 3-0 at home to Montengro, so that is
89. Kazakhstan

Meanwhile New Zealand have beaten Solomon Islands by 6-1
This means that the Islanders "have a mountain to climb" in the second leg
Anyone know if there are mountains in the Solomon Islands


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 02 Sep 2017, 03:01 
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Poland still have a 3 point lead in Group E, but suffered their first defeat in style. going down by 4-0 in Denmark
This means both Denmark and Montenegro are on 13 points.
Romania, on 9 are trying to keep in touch and beat Armenia by 1-0
Armenia play Denmark next, needing a win to avoid elimination
Romania visit Montenegro, and would also be out if Montenegro and Denmark both win
Poland should recover from the defeat, with a home game against Kazakhstan

Group F is the late show for England, but many of you will have seen it, (while I have not)
The important result was Slovakia 1-0 Slovenia, which leaves the Slovaks two points behind England, and playing at Wembley next
Scotland move up to third with a 3-0 win at
88. Lithuania

In Group C, it took a late goal for Germany to win in the Czech Republic. The worst the Germans can now do is fininsh second in the group, but with their 100% record, they look certain to go through. Germany are at home to Norway next
The only team that can catch Germany, are Northern Ireland, who apparently took some time to crack the defence in San Marino, but ended up 3-0 to the good. Norway beat Azerbeijan 2-0 to stay in the contest.

Northern Ireland are at home to Czech Republic next - a win knocks the Czechs, Norwegians and Azerbeijanies out

North America is still in play as I write, but there has been an vital result, and the name Marco Urena will now haunt USA.
The Costa Rican, born in the Costa Rica capital of San Jose, but now playing in the US city of San Jose scored both goals as Costa Rica went (probably temporarily) to the top of the group
As I have been typing, Honduras completed a 2-1 win in Trinidad & Tobago, leaving T&T rooted to bottom spot, while bringing Honduras level on points with USA. I guess its too much to hope that Panama can win away as well, as if they could beat Mexico, they would jump above both Honduras and USA


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 02 Sep 2017, 04:41 
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5. Mexico eventually got the win against Panama, (1-0) which means they are through to the finals

We are gearing up for three very interesting games next
First up will be Honduras v USA, both teams on 8 points
Then the leaders, Mexico travel to Costa Rica, three points behind - a win send Costa Rica to Russia

Finally, Panama face Trinidad & Tobago, Panama are only a point behind Honduras and USA, so will hope to jump back ahead of at least one, and in doing so, confirm T&T's elimination


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 02 Sep 2017, 06:52 
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Cheers Leo, always enjoy reading these.

Does third place in the North American group guarantee qualification?


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 03 Sep 2017, 01:53 
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If you enjoy reading this, then surely you already know the answer?
OK then, its Yes.

The big game in Europe was Spain 3-0 Italy in Group G. As the only points either team had lost prior to this was the draw with each other in Italy, this result gives Spain a three point lead. Isco scored twice in the first half, and Morata in the second. The groups surprise was that Macedonia, already out won in Israel. Israel can still catch Italy, and Albania who beat Liechtenstein 2-0 can still catch both Spain and Italy

In group D, group leaders Serbia secured a 3-0 win over
87. Moldova, who are stuck at the bottom of the group.

Ireland lost ground with their third successive draw, Shane Duffy's early goal being cancelled out before the break, it is a poor result both for Ireland, and for
86. Georgia, who can still catch second placed Ireland, but only if they lose to Wales - which would place Wales, the group's draw specialists (5 out of 7) in second. Wales won for the second time, in their game against Austria, which leaves Wales two behind Ireland, four behind Serbia, and leaves Austria floundering in fourth

Heavy rain caused the first half abandonment of Croatia v Kosovo, with no goals before the interruption. The group is the tighest with four teams separated by three points. Ukraine took over at the top, thanks to a 2-0 win over Turkey, who drop to fourth. The surprise result is that Finland picked up their first win, beating Iceland in Tampere. Iceland and Croatia are both a point behind Ukraine


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 04 Sep 2017, 06:31 
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A quick one this, as I accidently killed the first attempt to type it.

The shock result of the day, was undoubtedly Luxembourg's scoreless draw against France in Toulouse.
Following on from their win over Belarus, it lifts Luxembourg off the foot of the group table, replaced by
85. Belarus, who lost at home to Sweden, by 4-0
The Swedes are only a point behind France now, while Netherlands beat Bulgaria to move into third spot. Still, France and Sweden only need one win in their final games to be certain of a top two finish, and both have what should be an easy home game. Of course, Sweden's is against Luxembourg, (France play Belarus). France's remaining away game is in Bulgaria, while Sweden have to visit the Netherlands

Group B, sees Switzerland and Portugal continuing their winning ways. The Portuguese victory means
84. Hungary are out, and the leading pair will certainly end as 1 and 2. Also, the second place team will be in the "top 8", which means a play-off. Faroe Islands beat Andorra in the other game

Group H saw
6. Belgium become the first European Qualifyer. They did it with a narrow win in Greece, but still seven wins and a draw in 8 games.
While four of the others can still get second spot (Gibraltar already out), Estonia's win over Cyprus did more to dent Cypriot hopes than improve those of Estonia. Bosnia are second thanks to a 4-0 win in Gibraltar, but they face Belgium next before finishing the campaign in Estonia. Greece, a point behind play away to Cyprus before finishing with a game against Gibraltar


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Sep 2017, 04:01 
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The match in Armenia kicked off earlier than most of the other European ties, and they were beaten 4-1 by Denmark with a hat-trick for Werder Bremen's Thomas Delaney, so that is
83. Armenia

Attention then switches to Africa, my intention is to do a round up when all have played their games, but this needs to be interrupted for the first to go out at this stage. Despite picking up a point against a Nigerian side who had won all three earlier games, it is not enough so
82. Cameroon, who had played in six of the last seven World Cups

IN Stuttgart, the Germans narrowly beat the Norwegians. OK, then it was a 6-0 annihilation, so still on 100%, the second European qualifyer is
7. Germany, while for their oppenents, it is
81. Norway

Minutes later, as the result of goals from Jonathan Evans and Chris Blunt, two of West Brom's finest, Northern Ireland secured second spot in the group, resulting in the elimination of defeated
80. Czech Republic, and also meaning that the a 5-1 defeat of San Marino earlier in the evening cannot help
79. Azerbaijan

A goal from Stevan Jovetic was enough for Montenegro to get a result, and remove
78. Romania

The third game in this group (along with the Armenia match already mentioned finished with Poland beating Kazakhstan 3-0, and staying three points ahead in the group. Poland have a three point lead from both Montenegro and Denmark, and still have to face Armenia (away), and Montenegro (home). Montenegro will first have to play Denmark which will come close to settling second place.
Denmark finish with a home game against Romania.

In Group F, both Scotland and Slovenia secured home wins that keep them in contention, at least for second place. Slovakia scored an early goal at Wembley, but England came back to win, and are close to booking their place in Russia


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Sep 2017, 15:55 
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Apologies, there was a mistake in the earlier post, I misread the table and thought Germany had a seven point lead, but it is only 5, so they have not qualified yet

So, after the first leg, who would have guessed we would get to
77. Solomon Islands
Practically everyone :?:
After a 6-1 defeat in New Zealand, it was getting worse for the Solomons as they were 2-0 down in 21 minutes at home, but two penalty goals allow them to level the match, if not the tie.

No doubt Thailand will take comfort from coming close to taking a point in Australia, but they lost 2-1, meaning Australia cannot go out today. If Saudi win later, then Australia are in the play-off, but in the case of a draw, or Japanese win, it is Saudi Arabia in the play-off, and Australia through


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Sep 2017, 17:02 
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Currently watching Asian matches on TV, and just finished is
Iraq 1-0
76. United Arab Emirates

Aymen Hussein scoring the goal that ended UAE's slim hopes.
I don't think I'll wait up three hours to see if Saudi Arabia win.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Sep 2017, 17:42 
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Ghana's 5-1 win in Brazzaville, means that
75. Congo, cannot qualify, regardless of what happens later tonight in Alexandria

Meanwhile, I have been watching the Uzbekistan v South Korea match on Fox Sports, who have commentators that really fail to deliver the tension of the game. The Uzbeks were really fortunate not to lose, with South Korea hitting the post twice in the first half, and missing a golden opportunity late on.

When the game finished, at 0-0, Uzbekistan looked like holding onto third place, and South Korea would go direct to Russia.
The only thing certain though was that
74. China were out, as even the win they managed in Qatar was not enough

But then Syria levelled at 2-2 in Iran, and it is
73. Uzbekistan who are out, and
7. South Korea who qualify

(Had Syria scored again, they would have made it to the finals, still a play-off for a play-off is not bad for the homeless team)


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 06 Sep 2017, 01:48 
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As I left it, Saudi Arabia were just starting their game against Japan, needing a win to become
8. Saudi Arabia
The final score was just 1-0, and means Australia now play Syria

At the same time is Kinshasa, DR Congo built up a 2-0 lead against Tunisia, but Tunisia pulled back to 2-2
It keeps Tunisia, who already had three wins at the top of the group, but simultaneously knocked out
72. Libya
71. Guinea


After this, attention moved to Europe, all with the same kick off time

Start with Group D, which does not add to the numbers game, although Georgia getting a 1-1 draw in Austria means that Austria now know they are not going through, but they have to wait on the final knock out
Kolarev scored for Serbia in Ireland, and they held on to win, despite going down to ten men, this places Serbia on the brink of going through, while Wales' 2-0 win in Moldova moves them up to second. Whether they finish depends mainly on next month's game in Cardiff, when they meet Ireland.

Group G saw Spain hit 8 i Liechtenstein, staying top of the group, while Italy had a tougher time, with a single second half goal ending the challenge of
70. Israel
Albania draw in Macedonia, so are six points behind second placed Italy with two to play.

Group I is still open for four team, with Finland's win over Kosovo having no meaning,
home wins for Turkey against Croatia (1-0) and Iceland against Ukraine (2-0)
So Ukraine and Iceland are now both on 16, Turkey and Ukraine on 14

The other effect of tonight's games was
69. Estonia
They can still finish in second place, but would do so on 14 points, of which only 8 count in the second placed comparison
Every other group is guaranteed to have more than 8 points in this.

One more from Africa as
68. Algeria
lose at home to Zambia, leaving Zambia as the only team that can stop Nigeria going through
Zambia travel to Nigeria next month


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 06 Sep 2017, 03:14 
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All remaining decisions on South America wait on the final games next month
Brazil are through, and there winning run is brought to a halt by a 1-1 draw in Chile
Good results for the bottom two in the group, so its a pity they are already out
Bolivia beat Chile 1-0, while Venezuela get a draw away to Argentina
Argentina are therefore seriously at risk in the final run of fixtures
Peru won away in Ecuador - the fourth defeat in a row for the Ecuadorians who are seeing their chances drop off.
Finally the late show, as Uruguay score twice in two minutes in Paraguay, the home team pull one back but it ends 1-2

So with 16 games played
Brazil 37 points - untouchable group winners
Urugauy 27, and with the easiest final games, Venezuela (Away), Bolivia (Home)
Columbia 26, with Paraguay (h) next, followed by a trip to Peru
Peru 24, with Argentina (a), then Columbia (h)
Argentina 24 (currently in play off position), Peru (h) then Ecuador (a)
Chile 23 , Ecuador (h), Brazil (a)
Paraguay 21, Columbia (a), Venezuela (h)
Ecudaor 20, Chile (a), Argentina (h)
Bolivia 13
Venezuela 8

My guess is that Peru miss out, so Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina go through and Chile make the play off.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 06 Sep 2017, 05:21 
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African Summary
Currently five groups of four, the winners qualify, and that is it.
This month, each team played the same opponent home and away leaving everyone with one home match, and one away to play, these games being one each in October and November

Group A: Tunisia took four points off their games with DR Congo, and lead by three points. The other pair, Guinea and Libya won their home match against the other, but both are out

Group B:Nigeria took four points off Cameroon. Cameroon also drew both earlier games and are now out. Zambia won both games against Algeria, so Zambia are just three behind Nigeria, (they meet in October, in Nigeria), Algeria also out

Group C: Cote d'Ivoire, ahving won 3-0 in Gabon then lost the home game, while Morocco took four points against Mali. The Ivorians still lead the group (7 points), but only by a point from Morocco, who in turn have a point on Gabon. Mali, with 2 points to date, are down but not out

Group D: Cape Verde Islands, who had lost both opening encounters now beat South Africa home and away, while Senegal and Burkina Faso slug out two draws. Burkina Faso lead the group on goal difference from Cape Verde, both on 6 points. Senegal have five and South Africa four.

Group E: Egypt and Uganda have both won 1-0 at home to the other. Ghana, struggling after a home draw against Congo won the away match 5-1. Egypt 9 points, Uganda 7, Ghana 5, Congo 1 (and out)

Finally, CONCACAF.
Another poor result for the USA, as they come back from behind to take a point in Honduras. That leaves them only goal difference ahead of the Hondurans. Also a draw between the top two as Costa Rica take a point off Mexico, leaving them one point from qualification. Panama take a 3-0 win against Trinidad & Tobago and move to third, a point ahead of both USA and Honduras. T&T will be out unless they win both remaining games, while both USA and Honduras lose twice.
The final round of fixtures appear to fancy the USA chances (Panama home, T&T away) ahead of Panama (USA Away, Costa Rica home) or Honduras (Costa Rica away, Mexico home), so I still see USA as the direct qualifyer and think Panama are better bets for the play-off spot


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 04 Oct 2017, 11:16 
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Reaching the penultimate series of fixture dates for World Cup qualification, there are still 59 teams vying for the 24 places left in Russia. Group stages are finished in Oceania (which sits out this month’s fixtures) and Asia. In the UEFA, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL confederations, this is the last set of group fixtures leaving just play-offs games to go. Only Africa plays group matches in November.

So, the summary by confederation is as follows
Oceania: New Zealand are the last team standing, and are waiting to see which CONMEBOL team they have to play-off against.

CONMEBOL: With two of the 18 fixtures remaining, only one team (Brazil) has confirmed qualification, while two (Bolivia and Venezuela) cannot qualify, the other seven are trying to claim the three direct places, and the consolation prize of a match against New Zealand.
Ecuador and Paraguay both face away matches first, both expecting that a defeat will end their chances. Uruguay and Columbia are confident of making the cut. That leaves Peru, Argentina and Chile in the interesting zone. Eyes will of course be in Argentina, the big hitter of the past who have not been coming up to scratch.
Argentina will play Peru in Buenos Aires in their next fixture, and this will go a long way to defining the fourth direct place. Peru also have a difficult home game against Columbia, while Argentina finish their programme in Ecuador.
The Ecuadorians have a big influence, knowing they really need two wins, they will go to Chile before facing Argentina. Chile’s hopes are not helped by travelling to Brazil for the final game. Brazil are more likely to rest players and give others a run out in Bolivia, than in front of their home crowd
The points to date are Uruguay 27, Columbia 26, Peru and Argentina 24, Chile 23, Paraguay 21 and Ecuador 20.

CONCACAF: Again, all to play for in two final group games. Mexico are unbeaten in the 8 games to date and have qualified. Trinidad & Tobago will fail, but are not out yet. All they need to get further is to win twice, (they have lost seven of eight), both USA and Honduras to lose twice, and a significant goal difference gap to be bridged, (T&T -11, USA +1). Costa Rica are in second, cannot drop below the play-off position and need one point from Honduras (home) and Panama (away) to make it to the finals. With Honduras also playing Mexico, they are clear favourites to be the team that misses out altogether, leaving either Panama (10 points) or USA (9) in the final direct place, and the other in the play-off.
Hence the game in Orlando is critical, when USA face off against Panama. USA finish away to Trinidad and Tobago, so they will be confident if they can first overtake Panama. Panama’s home game is the more difficult match against Costa Rica, so even a draw in Orlando may not be enough to give them the edge.
I expect Panama to drop to fourth and to play-off against the qualifier from

ASIA: When the groups finished, four teams Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia had confirmed their passage to Russia. The two left over are Syria and Australia, who now play for the play-off place. The first leg is in Syria’s temporary base in Malacca, Malaysia. The second leg is in Sydney.

AFRICA: Five teams will qualify, none have done so yet. Five of the final 20 know their bids will end in failure, so 15 are still hopeful
Group A, Tunisia or DR Congo. Tunisia hold a three point lead, which means they need four more to confirm the place. They have played each other twice, so it is down to matches against the eliminated pair. Tunisia start away to Guinea, and in November play Libya at home. DR Congo are in Libya this month, and play Guinea in the next.
Group B, a similar situation with Nigeria 3 points ahead of Zambia, while Cameroon and Algeria are eliminated. But in this case, Nigeria have to play Zambia this month, at home. Hence this one is more likely to be settled this month
Group C. Technically, all four still have a chance, but Mali’s is rather slim. Both their home games have been 0-0 draws, while they have lost away to Cote d’Ivoire and Morocco. Only a victory against League leaders Ivory Coast leave them in contention, and only then if Morocco do not win their home game against Gabon. The Ivorians are at home to Morocco in the final round.
Group E. Congo are eliminated, and Ghana are on the brink of joining them, having failed to win either home game, (although they won in Congo). Ghana still hold the keys, as they travel to Uganda (7 points) this month, and play at home to Egypt (9) in November. Egypt play at home to Congo this month, while Uganda travel there next time.
Group D. The most complex, as there is a missing result. South Africa originally beat Senegal by 2-1, but this game will be replayed, while the referee has been banned for life. I am expecting the re-arranged game to be fitted in during November, before the closing matches. In the meantime, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde, (who will meet in November) are both on six points, Senegal are on 5, while South Africa have just the one. South Africa’s visit to Senegal is also in November, while this month they are at home to Burkina Faso, while Cape Verde are at home to Senegal.

UEFA: Not counting Russia, who qualify as hosts, 24 out of 54 teams have been eliminated so far, while one (Belgium) is confirmed in the finals. That leaves 29 teams, of which 8 will qualify as group winners, 8 will claim a second chance from second place, and 13 (including one second placed team) will also be eliminated this month.

Group A. France still favourites, but with 17 points, only one ahead of Sweden. Netherlands (13) and Bulgaria (12) still in with a chance. Luxembourg and Belarus are out. France travel to Bulgaria knowing needing to win, while Sweden are at home to Luxembourg. The Dutch are in Belarus. France finish with the home game against Belarus, Sweden travel to the Netherlands while Bulgaria finish in Luxembourg.

Group B. It is between Switzerland and Portugal, with the Swiss victory at home to Portugal being the difference so far. Unless Portugal slip up in Andorra, the group will be decided in Portugal in the final round. Hungary, Faroe Islands, Andorra and Latvia all eliminated.

Group C. Here it is the first fixture, Northern Ireland v Germany that is critical. Any result other than a Northern Irish win leaves Germany as group winners, and the Irish second. Even if Northern Ireland become the first team to deny Germany points, the Germans would be likely to wrap the group up, when they are at home to Azerbaijan. Northern Ireland finish the campaign in Norway, and will be aware that they may yet need points then to guarantee a play-off place. Also in the group are Czech Republic and San Marino.

Group D. Serbia must finish in the top two, and are expected to be group winners, currently four points ahead of Wales, who in turn have a single point on the Republic of Ireland. Austria’s slim chance depends on beating Serbia, and winning away in Moldova. Before Wales play Ireland, in what appears to be the second place decider, Wales have to travel to Georgia, while the Irish have Moldova at home. Both Georgia and Moldova have been eliminated. Even if it goes wrong in Austria, Serbia will claim the group assuming they can beat Georgia at home in the final game

Group E. Poland have a three point lead on both Montenegro and Denmark, while Romania, Armenia and Kazakhstan are eliminated. Montenegro’s next game is at home to Denmark, while Poland travel to Armenia. Then Poland take on Montenegro, while Denmark finish at home to Romania.

Group F. England’s five point advantage over Slovakia means they are group winners with a win over Slovenia at Wembley. Slovakia have a one point advantage over Slovenia and Scotland. Even if England mess up at Wembley, they can recover the situation with a win in Lithuania. Lithuania and Malta cannot qualify. With Scotland playing Slovakia at home, followed by Slovenia away, they still can storm into second place. Slovakia’s final game is at home to Malta.

Group G. Effectively between Spain and Italy, with the Spanish holding a three point lead. Albania still have a theoretical chance, which requires them to first win in Spain, and then at home to Italy, with the Italians also losing at home to Macedonia. Like Macedonia, Israel and Liechtenstein are eliminated. Spain’s away match is in Israel.

Group H. With Belgium group winners, Gibraltar and Estonia eliminated, Bosnia (14 points), Greece (13) and Cyprus (10) are fighting for second place. Bosnia play Belgium home and Estonia away, Cyprus play Greece at home, after which Greece play Gibraltar and Cyprus travel to Belgium.

Group I. Croatia and Iceland have 16 points, Turkey and Ukraine have 14, Finland and Kosovo are eliminated. First fixtures are Croatia v Finland, Turkey v Iceland and Kosovo v Ukraine. Second series is Iceland v Kosovo, Ukraine v Iceland and Finland v Turkey

Predicting the second place table, and therefore which of the nine do not get into the play-offs is complex. The late addition of Kosovo and Gibraltar into the draw did not change UEFA’s stance that the results against the teams in last place would not be included in working out the second place comparisons. That makes the table very complex, and liable to change, as not only can the second placed teams change, but also the last placed teams.

This news is probably to the relief of Wales, who are currently the team missing out. So far, only the second place team in Group B (either Portugal or Switzerland) is guaranteed to be in the play offs.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Oct 2017, 10:01 
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leohoenig wrote:

ASIA: When the groups finished, four teams Japan, South Korea, Iran and Saudi Arabia had confirmed their passage to Russia. The two left over are Syria and Australia, who now play for the play-off place. The first leg is in Syria’s temporary base in Malacca, Malaysia. The second leg is in Sydney.



Nice piece on the Syrian team (by Australian Associated Press, reported in the Guardian):

https://www.theguardian.com/football/20 ... yrias-team


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Oct 2017, 15:41 
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An 83rd minute penalty rescues a draw for Syria, after a disappointed and frustrated Australia led 1-0 since the 39th minute.

Syria almost grab a 95th minute winner, and the teams go to the second leg in Sydney with all to play for.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Oct 2017, 21:43 
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Eriksen you beauty! Point at home to Romania enough for Denmark to get second and of Poland lose in Montenegro the Danes could still top the group.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 05 Oct 2017, 22:20 
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The earliest game of the day was in Malaysia, where Syria were at “home” to Australia. The match finishes 1-1, which means Australia remain favourites to finish the job, but will still have work to do.

Not so for
9. Germany, who scored twice in the first half in Belfast to secure their qualification for the finals. Northern Ireland had already confirmed a minimum of second place, and with one game to go have secured 13 points in the second place table. If they can pick up points away in Norway this will add to the total. The other games in the group see away wins for Czech Republic in Azerbaijan, and for Norway by 8-0 in San Marino. This pushes the Czechs up to third, and Norway up to fourth.

In Group E, Poland secured a big 6-1 win away in Armenia, but still need a point from the final game, at home to Montenegro to secure their place in Russia. Montenegro themselves lost 1-0 at home to Denmark, which makes their passage much less likely. Not only do Montenegro need to win in Poland to have a chance, they also require Denmark, who now lead them by the three points gained today, to lose at home to Romania. Denmark will win the group if they win, and Poland lose. Kazakhstan lost to Romania, confirming they finish last, so assuming Denmark finish second, they have 13 points in the second place table, plus whatever they secure on Sunday

10. England. A late goal was enough to confirm England’s place, despite a far from convincing win against Slovenia. Scotland’s 1-0 win over Slovakia moves them into second spot. Malta picked up their first (and probably only) point of the campaign by drawing 1-1 with Lithuania. Scotland have 17 points, which is 11 in the second place table. However, Scotland cannot finish second if they lose the final game, so they will have either 12 or more likely 14 is they finish second. A win in Slovenia confirms Scotland’s second place. Slovenia themselves need to win, and hope that Slovakia (who have 15 points to Slovenia’s 14) do not beat Malta at home. I therefore feel confident in writing off Slovenia’s chances of finishing second. If Slovakia beat Malta, and Scotland do not win, then Slovakia’s, then it places them in second place with 12 second place points.

No European was eliminated by the evening’s action, but Slovenia and Montenegro now have their chances of finishing second reduced to the mathematical.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 06 Oct 2017, 05:34 
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In the CONMEBOL region, the battle for the three places is clearly hotting up, but this resulted in the first three games on the list finishing scoreless. The first of these was the dead game, Bolivia, who will finish 9th in the ten team table held Brazil, already confirmed as group winners to a scoreless draw. The second match was played in Venezuela, with Uruguay knowing a win would send them to the finals. Venezuela still had a chance to overtake Bolivia if they won this, but it ended scoreless, so Uruguay had to wait.

Then comes three games with the same kick off time, but the most notable is Argentina (in fifth place), against Peru (in fourth). Both start the day on 24 points, and another scoreless draw means both finish on 25 – three points and nine goals behind Uruguay. Peru stay ahead of Argentina on goals scored. Peru will finish qualification at home to Columbia.
It is in Columbia where we get real drama. A home win against Paraguay would jump them into second place on 29 points. Falcao’s 79th minute goal means they have one foot in Russia, but then it is pushed back as Cardoza (89 minutes) and Sanabria (90) score for Paraguay.

Chile win their home game 2-1, which is the end of the road for
67. Ecuador. Vargas had put Chile ahead in the first half, but Ecuador had levelled with six minutes to play, only for Alexis Sanchez to score the winner within two minutes.

The table in South America with a game to play is now
1. Brazil (38). - qualified
2. Uruguay (28) – must at least reach the play-off, one point is enough to go through
3. Chile (26+2), 4. Columbia (26+2) – in the direct qualification places, so through if they win the last game
5. Peru (25+1), 6. Argentina (25+1), 7. Paraguay (24-5) – fifth place is the play-off. Both Peru and Argentina make the play-off or better if they win
8. Ecuador (20), 9. Bolivia (14), 10. Venezuela (9) – eliminated

The final fixtures are
Brazil v Chile, Uruguay v Bolivia, Peru v Columbia, Ecuador v Argentina and Paraguay v Venezuela


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 07 Oct 2017, 08:50 
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As a consequence of Wales winning 1-0 in Georgia,
66. Austria cannot qualify, regardless of their result later in the evening
As sometimes happens in these cases, Austria then took heart and surprised Serbia later in the evening, coming back despite going behind early, to win 3-2. Serbia would have found their place in the finals with a win. Ireland kept on the heels of the other two with a 2-0 win over Moldova. The points are now Serbia 18, Wales 17 and Ireland 16, but Serbia must finish in the top two as Wales play Ireland. A win for Serbia at home to Georgia will see them through. To finish second, Wales need at least a draw on Monday, which would give them 12 points in the second place table, while a win increases this to 14. Ireland come second with a win, which would give them 13 points in the table

A surprise in Group G, where Italy only managed a 1-1 draw with Macedonia. Still the point was enough to eliminate
65. Albania, regardless of their result. As it was, they went down 3-0, meaning that
11. Spain are added to the line up in Russia. Liechtenstein lose for the 9th time, but may take heart that the margin at home to Israel was only 1-0. Italy will finish second, with 14 points in the table, plus whatever they get in Albania. A guaranteed play off place.

In Group I, Croatia lose top spot, drawing 1-1 at home to Finland. Iceland’s fine 3-0 win in Turkey means they now lead the group with 19 points. Croatia have 17, along with Ukraine, who won 2-0 in Kosovo.
64. Turkey are left behind on 14, and cannot qualify as Ukraine still have to play at home to Croatia. Iceland are clear favourites to keep in top place, as they are at home to Kosovo on Monday. A winner in the Ukraine v Croatia game would have 20 points, which is 14 in the second place table. If the game is drawn, then Croatia are second, but with only 12 points in the table.

The only African game of the night, and most predictable result,
63. Mali, who drew 0-0 at home to Cote d’Ivoire. This means all three of Mali’s home games in their group finish without goals. Mali have lost both away games. The Ivorians have 8 points, but if Morocco beat Gabon tomorrow, they will have 9 – meaning a draw will be enough when they travel to Cote d’Ivoire next month. A Gabon win would move them level on points with Cote d’Ivoire, but probably behind on goal difference.

Two matches overnight in the CONCACAF region. No surprise in Mexico, where the home side won 3-1, and finished off the chances of

62. Trinidad and Tobago.
Meanwhile, the USA got the result they needed, a 4-0 win over Panama, this jumps them ahead of the Canal siders into third place in the group, with 12 points. Panama have 10. Honduras, in 5th place on 9 points will try to put pressure on in tonight’s game, but this requires getting something away to Costa Rica, who need only a draw to secure their passage to Russia.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 08 Oct 2017, 11:46 
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Out all day Saturday, so I do not have the actual timings for the numbering, may need correcting later.

In European Group A, the top three France (1-0 in Bulgaria), Sweden (8-0 v Luxembourg) and Netherlands (3-1 in Belarus), all won. This means elimination for
61. Bulgaria.

France still lead the group by one point, and have a home game against Belarus where a win guarantees qualification. Sweden are a point behind, while the Netherlands are three points behind Sweden. The Netherlands play Sweden on Tuesday, but the size of Swedish win means they have a 12 goal advantage as well, so the Dutch need a six goal win. It also drops Luxembourg below Belarus on goal difference, Sweden currently have 13 points in the second place table

Group B again saw wins for Portugal and Switzerland. Portugal have the better goal difference, so any win in the final game puts them top of the list

In group H, Belgium won by the odd goal in 7 in Bosnia. An important, but disappointing result for Bosnia, who slip behind Greece. The Greeks won at
60. Cyprus, they were a goal down in the 18th minute, but ahead 8 minutes later. No further goals here. Greece now have to beat Gibraltar to ensure coming second, with 13 points in the second place table.

In Africa group A, Tunisia and DR Congo both won their games, Tunisia need a point at home to Libya in the final match to qualify.
In Group B,
12. Nigeria, beat
59. Zambia by 1-0 to become the first of the African teams to qualify, the all important goal being scored by Iwobi of Arsenal in the second half

In group C, Morocco got a 3-0 win over
58. Gabon, all the goals coming from Boutaib, who plays for Yeni Malatyaspor in Turkey. This means that Morocco lead the group, and need a point from their visit to Cote d’Ivoire next month to qualify, while the home side will need to take all three points in the decisive match

In Group D, South Africa beat Burkina Faso 3-1 to keep the group very much alive, but Senegal, who won 2-0 away in Cape Verde are clear favourites. Senegal have 8 points, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde 6 each, while South Africa have only four. However, Senegal have to play South Africa twice, needing two points to be certain of going through

From Group E, Ghana are feeling very aggrieved, after having appearing to score with the last kick of the game, but having it disallowed for off side. TV replays suggest the referee made a wrong decision. However, if Egypt win today (at home to Congo), the points are moot, as Egypt will then have qualified leaving both Ghana and Uganda eliminated.

Finally, the last evening result saw Costa Rica draw 1-1 with Honduras, thanks to a last minute equaliser by Vancouver Whitecap’s Kendall Waston Manley. This is enough to confirm
13. Costa Rica as second place in the CONCACAF group.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 09 Oct 2017, 08:17 
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Two of the European groups playing today had earlier kick-offs, with just one playing at 7.45.

In Group E, Poland only needed a point to qualify, while Denmark needed one point to reach the play-offs. However a Danish win coupled with a Polish defeat would result in Denmark stealing the main prize, while Danish defeat, with Montenegro winning in Poland could result in Montenegro sneaking into the play-offs.

Poland raced into a 2-0 lead, but then were pegged back by Montenegro goals in the 78th and 83rd minute. Any risk to Poland’s chances was put to rest when Lewandowski put them back ahead on 85, while Stojkovic added a penalty goal to give a comfortable looking 4-2 final result.
So
14. Poland are heading to Russia, while
57. Montenegro see their chances ended.
The result meant Denmark finished second, come what may, and they ended up drawing 1-1 with Romania, confirming that they enter the second place table on 14 points. Kazakhstan drew 1-1 with Armenia and finish last with three points.

Meanwhile, in Lithuania, a Harry Kane penalty is enough to give England all three points in their final Group F game. Slovakia defeated bottom club Malta by 3-0 which meant that
56. Slovenia could not qualify.
Slovenia themselves went behind at home to Scotland, but two goals from Bezjak turned the game around. Snodgrass scored a late equaliser for the Scots, but they could not manage to get a winner, even after Cesar was sent off, so it is
55. Scotland, who miss out and
Slovakia who finish second, but with only 12 points in the second place table.

Only one game left in Africa this weekend, but an important one as Egypt could confirm their place in the finals, it looked as if this would be the case when Mohamed Salah gave them the lead after 63 minutes against the already eliminated Congo, but then Congo equalised on 87 minutes. The game moved into injury time and it took until the 95th minute when Egypt were awarded a penalty, which was scored by Salah. The result means that neither
54. Ghana, nor
53. Uganda could qualify, both out simultaneously – and sends
15. Egypt to the finals.

The third of the European groups to complete on the night was Group C, where it was already known that Germany were the winners, and that Northern Ireland would finish second. The Germans completed their qualifying campaign in style with a 5-1 win over Azerbaijan which maintains the 100% record. The Czech Republic beat San Marino 5-0. Norway ended on a winning note, beating Northern Ireland by 1-0, but they at least benefit from Scotland’s failure as they have 13 points in the second-place table, and therefore must be in the play-offs.

We now know that nine places at the finals will be decided in November, these are the four European and two inter-continental play-offs, plus the final three groups in Africa. 24 teams will contend these places.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 10 Oct 2017, 08:45 
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The one missed out yesterday was
52. Bosnia/Herzegovina. They can still finish second in their group, but the combination of other results means that if they do so, they would be 9th place in the table and would miss out. [Technically, they have a higher number, knocked out at the same time as soon as Slovakia were confirmed as beating Malta].

16. Serbia, did what was expected of them, with a 1-0 win over Georgia. Austria and Moldova were both already out, so Austria’s 1-0 win is of little consequence, and the big game was in Cardiff, where the Republic of Ireland won the battle of the Celts, by 1-0 to by-pass
51. Wales, and take second place in the group
The Republic of Ireland have 13 second place points, and qualify for the play-offs.

Serbia’s goal did not come until 74 minutes, so for 17 minutes after McClean had scored their goal, the Irish were probably dreaming of winning the group.

Group G was already settled, and both Spain (the group winners) and Italy (runners-up) achieved single goal wins, away in Israel and Albania respectively. Macedonia beat Liechtenstein by 4-0. Italy have 17 points in the second place table

In group I, Finland and Turkey were both already out, and drew 2-2.

17. Iceland, managed to follow expections and beat Kosovo 2-0 and secure their place in the finals.
In Ukraine, the home team needed to beat Croatia to overcome the fact they were behind on goal difference, but goals from Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric (62nd and 70th minutes) put paid to the dream, so it is
50. Ukraine, while Craotia progress to the play-offs with 14 points in The second place table.

Slovakia will be the second place team that loses out, unless Greece fail to win tonight and allow Bosnia into the place. Greece are at home to Gibraltar


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 10 Oct 2017, 19:38 
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49. Syria drop out after an incident filled game in Sydney. Syria scored first, Omar Al Samah controlling a through pass and hitting it above the Australian keeper after only six minutes. Syrian joy lasted only until the 13th minute, when Tim Cahill grabbed the equaliser, but after that, despite Australia having most of the possession and chances, they could not score again. With the first leg having also finished 1-1, the game went into extra time.
Two incidents then turned the game, the first a reckless challenge by Mahmoud Al Mawas that earned him a second yellow card, and give Australia a man advantage with most of the extra time period to go. Al Mawas has the unusual distinction of receiving two yellows from different referees, as the first man left the field. The second incident was of course Tim Cahill’s second goal of the game, taking Australia into the inter-continental play-off


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 10 Oct 2017, 21:23 
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48. Slovakia


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 10:02 
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No great shocks in European qualification’s final group day. France quickly built up a 2-0 lead, through Griezeman and Giroud against Belarus, and although the visitors pulled one back before the break, it stayed 2-1, meaning qualification for

18. France
As it was, this did not matter, as they could only be challenged by Sweden, but they went down to two Arjen Robben goals for
48. Netherlands. This was too little, too late for the Dutch, as earlier results had left them needing to score seven to have a chance of overhauling the Swedes, who now play in the play-offs.

Also in the play-offs are Switzerland. After winning their first nine games, they were defeated by
19. Portugal, with the Portuguese goal difference proving all important

Finally, in Group H, Greece comfortably saw off Gibraltar to claim second place, and a play-off, and confirm
47. Slovakia, as the team who does not make it to the play-offs from second place.
A dramatic final day of play in both North and South America started in the south, where the five matches were to kick off 30 minutes before those in the North.

For Urugauy, sitting pretty in second place it was a simple case of winning at home to Bolivia to secure their position as
20. Uruguay. A final result of 4-2 to the home side – although Uruguay were behind to an own goal on 24 minutes, they were ahead by half time, and ended up with a comfortable win.

Despite starting the day in sixth place, which would lead to a failure to qualify, Argentina also knew that a win had to push them up the table, as Peru (above them on goals scored only) were playing at home to Columbia (one point further ahead). Ecuador has been a difficult place for away teams, but after a runaway start to the group, Ecuador were on poor form and could not qualify. Still it took them only a matter a seconds to take a 1-0 lead.

And, of course, Argentina have Messi. The thought of not going to the finals may have been too much for the mercurial Messi. Anyway, it is his hat-trick in a 3-1 win that made certain it did not happen, so we have
21. Argentina.
The Peru – Columbia match was to finish 1-1, a result that will satisfy both, and must have been influenced by what was going on elsewhere.

46. Paraguay somehow contrived to blow their chances, losing 1-0 at home to the group’s bottom team, Venezuela. It was only Venezuela’s second win in qualifying and does not lift them off the last place.
The other team to go out, at least has an excuse, even if they did start the day from a position of power, in third place within the group.

45. Chile, will have to place their failure not on their 3-0 defeat in Brazil on the final day, but on earlier results, particularly home defeats by Argentina and Paraguay.

So, Chile drop from third place to sixth, Argentina rise from sixth place to third, while the draw means that
22. Columbia maintains their fourth place in the group, and Peru stay in fifth and take the play-off, a match against New Zealand next month

If South America was exciting, then CONCACAF was equally so. I can imagine the USA claiming foul, with both Panama (2-1 v Costa Rica) and Honduras (3-2 v Mexico) winning home games against already qualified teams.

But it was down to the USA’s failings, again not just on the final night but in advance. Three wins, three draws and three defeats had inched them into a qualification place, and goal difference meant that a draw would be enough in Trinidad and Tobago, a team with just one win against eight defeats

44. USA losing 2-1 may go down as a momentous failure, and one wonders if it will be a knock to the development of football in the country. T&T were 2-0 up before half-time, while the USA appeared to be believing they had done all the hard work in their last game, and would easily get the draw they needed. The result allows both the others to pass them in the table, Honduras will play Australia for a place in the finals after their 3-2 victory over Mexico, while

23. Panama will take a place in Russia next summer, thanks to an 87th minute winner, and an earlier goal, which replays suggest never crossed the line.

So, we are coming close to being done and dusted, three group winners in Africa remain to be decided – Tunisia should take one, Senegal are favourites in Group D, (where all four can make it), while the remaining game is a winner takes all when Cote d’Ivoire play against Morocco, (OK then, a draw is good enough for Morocco)
Four European play-offs will be drawn next Tuesday, while the other two games are Honduras v Australia and New Zealand v Peru. This must lead to speculation that both Australia and New Zealand can make the finals, although Peru should be favourites to take the spot.


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 Post subject: Re: 209 to One - the Countdown to the 2018 World Cup.
 Post Posted: 11 Oct 2017, 13:34 
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Blimey, USA, Chile, Netherlands...
Maybe England aren't as...no, they are rubbish, the group was easy.


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