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CFuller

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    FM storyteller originally from Romford, Essex

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  1. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    3 OCTOBER 2001 If you're an American soccer fan in 2018, this might seem completely bizarre and unimaginable... but your country could secure its place at the World Cup tonight! The United States of America have been imperious in the CONCACAF Final Round so far, racking up five wins out of six. Unless Barbados have snuck Gabriel Batistuta, Rivaldo and Burnley's Shaun Berry into the country with bogus passports, that will almost certainly become six wins out of seven. If the USA do win, they would also need bitter rivals Mexico to do them a favour for once - and stop 4th-placed Jamaica from getting three more points on the board. If that happens, the Stars & Stripes will definitely be going to the Far East next summer. Meanwhile, Canada are hoping that Mexico don't win in Kingston. That would leave 2nd place the Canucks' for the taking, were they to win in El Salvador. CONCACAF Final Round Results Barbados - 0 United States of America - 4 (E Wynalda 4,18, J O'Brien 29,67) This was some way for the USA to effectively confirm their presence at the 2002 World Cup. New England's Eric Wynalda displayed finishing skills that would've made old England envious, beating Barbadian goalkeeper Bevan Hawthorne in the 4th and 18th minutes. There would be more pain to come for Ashley Cole and company. Midfield master John O'Brien ghosted past the young Arsenal full-back on his way to increasing the Yanks' lead to 3-0 on 29 minutes, and he doubled his tally during the second half. Needless to say, we won't be seeing Barbados in next year's global finals! El Salvador - 0 Canada - 1 (A Bunbury 44) Alex Bunbury is past it! He's over the hill! He should be carted off to the nearest retirement home, pronto! Okay, maybe I'm being a bit sensationalist, but after scoring five goals in Canada's last qualifier, I was perhaps expecting more from the 34-year-old target man in San Salvador. His aerial prowess earned him a goal just before half-time, when he beat El Salvador's Jazz man Victor Dubon to a cross from Ante Jazic. That was the only goal in an open contest, and the three points it yielded the Canucks has potentially taken them within one more win of qualification. Jamaica - 2 (D Johnson 14, D Stewart 81) Mexico - 2 (E Alfaro 27, Paco 76) There was a five-point gap between these two teams at kick-off, and Jamaica must be relieved that it's still that way. The Reggae Boyz were briefly on course to narrow it down to two points when Nottingham Forest striker David Johnson hit the target after 14 minutes. However, Mexico wing-back Enrique Alfaro equalised from left-sided colleague Miguel Angel Carreon's cross after 27. El Tri carried on from where they left off in the 76th minute, as young Monaco defender Rafael Marquez's long ball was nodded in by striker Paco. That could well have been the winner... had it not been for Donald Stewart's Jamaican equaliser five minutes later. P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q USA 7 6 1 0 22 2 20 19 2. Canada 7 4 2 1 13 7 6 14 3. Mexico 7 3 4 0 14 4 10 13 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4. Jamaica 7 2 2 3 12 13 -1 8 5. El Salvador 7 1 1 5 5 13 -8 4 6. Barbados 7 0 0 7 2 29 -27 0 Qualified Nations for World Cup (12 confirmed) France (holders), South Korea (co-hosts), Japan (co-hosts), Italy, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco, Brazil, Bosnia & Herzegovina, United States of America 5 OCTOBER 2001 After three wins apiece, China PR and Iran are on course to qualify automatically for the first World Cup finals to take place on Asian soil. They're now enjoying a richly-deserved break from the AFC qualifiers, which gives us a chance to focus on their potential challengers. China are currently top of Group 1, and it's in that group where we have the most exciting tie on tonight's schedule. Thailand and Saudi Arabia sit 2nd and 3rd respectively ahead of their meeting in Bangkok. Though the Thais have home advantage, the Saudis have much more pedigree, and I'd be surprised if the Asian Cup holders didn't come out on top here. Rock-bottom Bahrain face the prospect of a fourth straight defeat when they travel to Uzbekistan. Victory is paramount for both teams if either of them are to seriously challenge for a Playoff place. Iraq can close to within two points of Group 2 leaders Iran, but only if they record an away win in Kuwait. When you consider how much of a fight the Blues gave the Iranians, this certainly doesn't seem like a gimme for the Lions of Mesopotamia. At the lower end of the table, Kazakhstan and Syria face each other in search of their first wins at this stage. Any further slip-ups will surely leave them battling purely for pride. AFC Round 2 Group 1 Results Thailand - 2 (T Jaiman 33, S Malanol 85) Saudi Arabia - 1 (K Gahwaji 49) Of all the shocks I've seen during the World Cup qualifiers, this has to be amongst the biggest. Not even the home fans in Bangkok gave Thailand much hope of downing Saudi Arabia, but a classy strike from midfielder Therdsak Jaiman clearly rattled the reigning Asian champions. The Green Falcons had rested Obaid Al-Dosary for this match, so it was up to Khalid Ghawaji to get them back level on 49 minutes. Saudi Arabia were expected to take control from there, but a couple of quickfire bookings saw their veteran defender Mohammed Al-Khlaiwi sent off in the 77th minute. Eight minutes later, his Thai counterpart Serge Malanol burst forward to score the winner, which moved Thailand to within two points of leaders China PR, and kept the Saudis six points off the pace. Uzbekistan - 4 (M Kasymov 1, R Galiev 20, M Shatskikh 28,36) Bahrain - 1 (K Sheibat 78) Bahrain remain pointless after a disastrous first half in Tashkent. Right-back Reda Al-Jehani was booked in the opening seconds for holding back Uzbekistan striker Maxim Shatskikh, whose captain Mirdjalol Kasymov scored from the subsequent free-kick. The White Wolves strengthened their advantage through Rifat Galiev's 20th-minute volley, though winger Andrey Akopyants was injured in the build-up. Shatskikh then notched up a brace to make it 4-0 to Uzbekistan at half-time. Bahrain's second-half response was limited to a single strike after 78 minutes from Kaies Sheibat. GROUP 1 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. China PR 3 3 0 0 7 4 3 9 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Thailand 3 2 1 0 4 2 2 7 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Uzbekistan 3 1 1 1 6 4 2 4 4. Saudi Arabia 3 1 0 2 6 5 1 3 5. Bahrain 4 0 0 4 2 10 -8 0 Group 2 Results Kazakhstan - 1 (E Tarasov 9) Syria - 1 (YI Madani 41) Let's be honest - we're unlikely to see either of these nations in the Far East. Kazakhstan had the better of the first half, breaking the deadlock after just nine minutes. Mainz defender Peter Neustädter (the father of future Russia international Roman Neustädter) played a significant part in the goal, which was finished by Eugeny Tarasov. Syria were shaken for a while after that, but Yousef Ibrahim Madani's 41st-minute equaliser gave them a boost. Sadly, a second-half injury to defender Mohammed Thunian disrupted their momentum, and the game fizzled out. Kuwait - 1 (N Othman 67) Iraq - 2 (G Heamed 50, A Abduljabar 90) Iraq were very solid at the back during an exciting opening 45 minutes, even after left-back Abbas Rahim tore his groin muscle very early on. After shutting Kuwait in the first half, the Lions of Mesopotamia pushed forward and took the lead within five minutes of the restart. Ahmad Kadhum's shot was pushed away by Kuwait goalkeeper Falah Dabshah, but Ghassan Heamed converted the follow-up. Nasser Othman drew the Blues level on 69 minutes, but Kuwaiti hearts would be broken in the dying moments by a sublime one-man assault from Iraq's Ahmad Abduljabar. GROUP 2 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Iran 3 3 0 0 6 2 4 9 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Iraq 3 2 1 0 6 4 2 7 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Kuwait 3 1 0 2 4 5 -1 3 4. Syria 3 0 2 1 3 4 -1 2 5. Kazakhstan 4 0 1 3 3 7 -4 1
  2. CFuller

    An Impossible Man

    *** Just hours after England's Under-21s continued their winning streak, the Under-19s looked to keep theirs going into the new year. The Young Lions' final match of 2018 was at the Proact Stadium in Chesterfield, against an Albania side who were unlikely to cause them too much bother. West Bromwich Albion's inside-forward Marc Atkins - on loan at Shrewsbury Town - fired a free-kick over Albania's crossbar after just three minutes. Another player who missed out on his first England goal three minutes later was Glenn Sheppard, who couldn't keep his header from Ryan Sessegnon's cross on target. Albania had their first opportunity to rattle the hosts after 10 minutes. Attacking midfielder Ardit Bajrami swung in a promising free-kick that was nodded wide by captain Ilir Liçaj. Another weak header from Liçaj nine minutes later would prove even more costly for the Kuq e Zinjtë. Liçaj's attempt to nod a long ball from England captain Alistair Rattray into touch was swiftly intercepted by its intended recipient Sheppard. The Chelsea striker held the ball up and crossed back to Leicester City midfielder Alfie Davidson, who smashed a 30-yard volley into the net off Taulant Zhilli's right-hand post! The home fans at the Proact Stadium, including England manager Mark Catterall, were left utterly gobsmacked by Davidson's stroke of brilliance! After taking the lead in such breathtaking fashion, the Young Lions took a while to ready themselves for another attack. Sheppard did force Zhilli into a save after 33 minutes, but he'd already been flagged offside when he latched onto Atkins' through-ball. Five minutes later, Atkins had another chance to get on the scoresheet. Manchester City midfielder Phil Foden - enjoying a season-long loan with Bury - lofted a pass to Sheppard, who knocked it first-time to Atkins. The Staffordshire-born youngster then miscued a shot that limped helplessly past the far post. England would find the net for a second time on the stroke of half-time, and the excellent Davidson was once again involved. His clever sidefooted pass to John Harrison allowed the Liverpool winger to dribble past Albania's holding midfielder Gentian Idrizaj and play a superb square ball that Sheppard nonchalantly tucked away. Harrison could've provided another assist four minutes into the second half. His cross to the far post narrowly evaded Liçaj and found substitute forward Jason Curtis, but the Huddersfield Town prospect somehow hit the post before Albania right-back Denis Ferraj cleared. In the 56th minute, Kane Wilson - a promising West Brom right-back, rather than an ungodly amalgamation of England's two best strikers - played an impressive long ball ahead of fellow Young Lions substitute Danny Loader. The Reading forward then provided Sheppard with the ammunition for his second goal, and England's third of the night. Impressively, England had scored from all three of their shots on target. They weren't quite able to keep up that strike rate, as Curtis' header from a Stuart White free-kick four minutes from the end was held by Albania's substitute keeper Roland Lika. Meanwhile, Josh Vokes and Steve Hilton were left with very little work to do in the England goal, as Albania failed to register a single shot on target. A couple of hopeless long-rangers from wingers Eridon Bakaj and Albi Shala were as good as the Kuq e Zinjtë could muster in an unsurprisingly one-sided contest. A second straight 3-0 win for England Under-19s made it seven consecutive victories under head coach Ledley King, who'd seen his team keep six clean sheets in the process. England's next three matches would surely put their strong run under real pressure, as they were set to face Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey in the European Championship Elite Round in March. 19 November 2018: Under-19s International - at Proact Stadium, Chesterfield England U19s - 3 (Alfie Davidson 19, Glenn Sheppard 45,56) Albania U19s - 0 ENGLAND U19s LINE-UP (4-2-3-1): Josh Vokes (Steve Hilton); Kane Wilson (Peter Turner), Adam Mingay (Joel Latibeaudiere), Alistair Rattray (Joe Wright), Ryan Sessegnon (Ted Lapslie); Alfie Davidson (Stuart White), Phil Foden (Aaron Morley); John Harrison (Seidu Opare), Neil Campbell (Danny Loader), Marc Atkins (Jason Curtis); Glenn Sheppard (Chris Scott).
  3. CFuller

    An Impossible Man

    *** Mark Catterall's comments about the racist abuse some of his senior England players had received in Moscow provoked plenty of debate back home. Many fans and pundits agreed that the continued victimisation of non-white footballers by Russian supporters could not be tolerated any longer. FIFA and UEFA were strongly urged to take meaningful action against the Russian Football Union, instead of simply handing them pitiful fines, like they always tended to do. However, Catterall's suggestion that England teams would not play in Russia again split opinion a lot more. Some argued that politics should not get in the way of football. Others said that the decision on whether to play competitive matches in the country should be up to the Football Association, rather than the England manager. There was, though, some significant support for a widespread sporting boycott of Russia - à la that of South Africa during Apartheid. When England arrived at Heathrow Airport on the afternoon of Saturday 17 November, several journalists invited Catterall to further explain his remarks. He declined to comment, simply saying, "This isn't the right time." Two England youth teams were in action two days later, on opposite ends of the country. That evening would see the Under-19s host Albania in the East Midlands town of Chesterfield, with England assistant manager Michael Burke in attendance. Before that, though, the Under-21s welcomed their Israeli counterparts to the County Ground in Swindon. Nobody seemed to know quite why an England team was playing a home match at 3:00pm on a Monday afternoon that wasn't a Bank Holiday. That didn't concern Catterall as he travelled to Wiltshire in the south-west to see how his best young players were progressing under the tutelage of head coach David Byrne. Israel would not be pushovers by any means. They had comfortably won their European Under-21s Championship qualifying group, albeit without facing any major opposition. The Blue and Whites had a sprinkling of senior internationals in their ranks, including left-winger Matan Hozez, who was a key man for Eredivisie side Vitesse. England were looking to put in a strong performance against one of the teams that they could potentially face in the upcoming continental finals in Italy. Leicester City forward Patrick Roberts was particularly keen to catch the eye following an elongated dip in form, though a couple of disappointing early shots didn't bode well. Roberts' first shot on target came on eight minutes, as he cut inside from the right before hitting a low shot that was awkwardly parried by Israeli keeper Omri Glaser. Marcus Rashford gathered the loose ball and crossed it into the box, where visiting centre-half Amit Glazer tried to head it clear. He could only find Everton midfielder Tom Davies, who volleyed wide. Rashford later had a couple of excellent free-kicks pushed wide by Glaser before the Young Lions eventually broke the deadlock in the 20th minute. Captain Tammy Abraham's tackle on Israel midfielder Yaron Swisa kicked off a counter-attack that he would later finish, tapping in a drilled cross from Roberts. Abraham's opener opened the floodgates wide open for England. As the game entered its 33rd minute, a rejuvenated Roberts received a pass from midfielder Joe Rankin-Costello and hammered it first-time past Glaser from the edge of the Israeli 'D'. That was Roberts' fifth goal for England Under-21s, but his first in over a year. Incredibly, the 33rd minute was still ongoing when England scored a quickfire third goal, though they needed three bites at the cherry. Abraham's initial effort rebounded off Israel defender Ofri Arad and to Rashford in a tight angle. Though Glaser parried Rashford's first strike, the second easily beat him, and Manchester United's young sensation now had 26 England Under-21s goals on his CV! Rashford and his United team-mate Axel Tuanzebe - on loan at Stoke City - each missed out on increasing England's lead to 4-0 before the interval. Both sides would make a raft of changes during the break. Not unsurprisingly, Israel replaced goalkeeper Glaser with his Maccabi Haifa team-mate Roee Fucs, who would catch an early strike from Young Lions sub Reiss Nelson in the 47th minute. Nelson had a couple more unsuccessful attempts to increase England's lead. When the next goal was scored in the 61st minute, though, it came at the other end. Two more members of Israel's Maccabi Haifa contingent linked up to get what looked like a consolation goal, when striker Awwad Muhammad half-volleyed in a centre from midfielder Yam Cohen. Muhammad had earned one senior cap for Israel thus far, scoring against future world champions Belgium the previous November, so he clearly had something about him. Conceding part of their three-goal lead sprung the Young Lions back into life. Rashford had a couple of dangerous shots saved by Fucs in the 63rd and 71st minute, either side of a couple of lacklustre shots from Roberts. England did find the net again in the 81st minute, but Eddie Nketiah was flagged offside after tapping in a follow-up from a Nelson shot that had rebounded off the post. Neither of the Arsenal attackers would get on the scoresheet in this match. Indeed, the Young Lions would be shut out for the entirety of the second half. The rout that had been expected of England after they took a 3-0 half-time lead had not materialised. Nevertheless, a solid win had completed a perfect win for the Young Lions, who'd won all seven of their matches at Under-21s level in 2018. Tougher challenges would lie ahead of Byrne's team in 2019, and they would need to stay sharp if their summer sojourn in Italy was to end in glory. 19 November 2018: Under-21s International - at County Ground, Swindon England U21s - 3 (Tammy Abraham 20, Patrick Roberts 33, Marcus Rashford 33) Israel U21s - 1 (Awwad Muhammad 61) ENGLAND U21s LINE-UP (4-2-3-1): Bailey Peacock-Farrell (Harry Lewis); Mason Holgate (Kyle Walker-Peters), Axel Tuanzebe (Joe Gomez), Brendan Galloway (Ezri Konsa), Ben Chilwell (Josh Tymon); Joe Rankin-Costello (Lewis Cook), Tom Davies (Sam Field); Patrick Roberts (Sheyi Ojo), Joshua Onomah (Ovie Ejaria), Marcus Rashford (Eddie Nketiah); Tammy Abraham (Reiss Nelson). BOOKED: Konsa 90+1.
  4. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    22 SEPTEMBER 2001 Radiohead could have confidently predicted the number of surprises on the opening week of AFC Round 2. I suspect that this week will also be devoid of shocks. Saudi Arabia are having a rest tonight after comfortably winning their first Group 1 match against Bahrain, for whom life won't be getting any easier. The Reds must now travel to Beijing, where China PR are going for back-to-back victories. China scraped through their first match against Uzbekistan, who have shown already that they could be surprise challengers for a Playoff place. A strong performance in Bangkok against Thailand would further strengthen their credentials. Like China, Iran are looking to secure a second straight win in Group 2. Team Melli are up against Kazakhstan, who were beaten in Kuwait last time out and could be left stranded at the bottom if they don't pull themselves together. Syria and Iraq might sound like the worst possible destinations for a road trip stag party, but they've got the makings of a great match. Whoever wins in Damascus - unless there's a draw, of course - will surely become favourites to finish 2nd in the group behind the Iranians. AFC Round 2 Group 1 Results China PR - 2 (J Li 18,55) Bahrain - 1 (HA Al-Zahrani 77) China went for an early goal in their first home match of the round. Bahrain goalkeeper Hussein Bassir held them off for 18 minutes, but he couldn't keep out a blistering shot from Jingyu Li. Chen Yang then pulled wide a great chance to double the Dragons' lead two minutes before half-time. It need not have mattered, tough, as Jingyu Li did put China 2-0 up after being assisted by namesake Ming Li on 55 minutes. A late consolation from Hamzah Abdullah Al-Zahrani was not enough to prevent Bahrain from suffering back-to-back defeats, or their opponents from recording successive 2-1 wins. Thailand - 1 (K Senamueng 29) Uzbekistan - 1 (A Akopyants 67) Thailand got their Group 2 campaign underway with what proved to be a very close match against Uzbekistan. It was the Changsuek who led the way at half-time, courtesy of an arresting 29th-minute strike from Thai Police forward Kiatisuk Senamueng. Fortunately for the visiting fans, the Uzbekistan defence wouldn't get themselves into any further trouble in the second half. Indeed, it was home captain Natee Tongsukkaew who was guilty of criminal defending in the 67th minute. Poor positioning from Tongsukkaew allowed Andrey Akopyants to get a point-saving equaliser for the White Wolves. GROUP 1 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. China PR 2 2 0 0 4 2 2 6 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Saudi Arabia 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 3 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Thailand 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 1 4. Uzbekistan 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1 5. Bahrain 2 0 0 2 1 5 -4 0 Group 2 Results Kazakhstan - 1 (E Tarasov 21) Iran - 2 (V Hashemian 40, R Khatibi 68) Iran were unfortunate not to go ahead on 10 minutes, when the legendary Ali Daei swerved a shot inches wide. 11 minutes later, though, it was Kazakhstan who surprisingly had the advantage. When Almas Kulshinbaev's delivery was flicked into the onion bag by Eugeny Tarasov, it looked like a famous Kazakh win was on the cards. Vahid Hashemian turned the tide in the 40th minute, levelling for Iran. Team Melli attacked with more regularity in the second half, and a 68th-minute finish from 'man of the match' Rasoul Khatibi got them their second victory. Syria - 2 (AS Payiazet 30, M Afash 79) Iraq - 2 (A Abduljabar 23,29) Iraq's first match of the round looked like being a straightforward win over Syria after a little under half an hour. 23-year-old striker Ahmad Abduljabar made his cousin Elvis Jagger very proud with two goals in the space of six minutes. Barely a minute after his second goal, though, the Iraqi defenders turned into Homer Simpson clones. Plenty of annoyed grunts were let out when Al Sad Payiazet headed in the first of two goals Syria needed to save a point. The Qasioun Eagles got the other late in the second period, as a curler from Greek-based midfielder Mohamed Afash restored parity. As Iraq's coach would probably say, "D'oh!" GROUP 2 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Iran 2 2 0 0 3 1 2 6 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Kuwait 1 1 0 0 2 0 2 3 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Iraq 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 1 4. Syria 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1 5. Kazakhstan 2 0 0 2 1 4 -3 0 28 SEPTEMBER 2001 There's no doubting which AFC Round 2 tie from this evening's schedule is the most exciting one. Fans from western Asia to the east will be watching on with bated breath as two continental giants go toe-to-toe. But enough about Bahrain vs Thailand. Group 1's big beasts collide in Riyadh, as Saudi Arabia play China PR. After having the week off, the Saudis will be eyeing up a second win in a row, which would establish themselves as the team to beat in the group. Mind you, China have won back-to-back games themselves, and their impeccable record might take some destroying. Meanwhile, Iran are looking to maintain their 100% start in Group 2. After a couple of narrow victories, they will certainly want to put on a more convincing display against Kuwait, who currently sit in 2nd. If - as expected - Kuwait suffer their first defeat, Iraq could jump into the Playoff place at their expense. They are at home to Kazakhstan, for whom time is already running low on their qualification hopes. AFC Round 2 Group 1 Results Bahrain - 0 Thailand - 1 (V Srimaka 11) This was not a classic match by any stretch of the imagination. Bahrain had three shots at goal and just one on target. Thailand had the same figures... but crucially, their lone shot on target did find the back of the Bahraini net. In the 11th minute, captain Kiatisuk Senamueng - the goalscoring police officer from last week - sent a cross to the near post, where Voravut Srimaka headed in what proved to be the winner. The hosts failed to make the most of their greater possession later in the match and suffered what could be a crippling defeat. Saudi Arabia - 2 (IS Al-Shahrani 22, M Al-Khlaiwi 90) China PR - 3 (C Shu 51, X Zhang 67, Ming Li pen72) To be honest, this wasn't the result I was expecting. I had Saudi Arabia down as favourites, and they appeared to justify that tag when Ibrahim Suwayed Al-Shahrani broke the deadlock on 22 minutes. China couldn't respond until the 51st minute, when the versatile Chang Shu headed in an equaliser. Xiaorui Zhang put the Dragons in front on 67 minutes, five minutes before they dealt a decisive blow. Substitute midfielder Ming Li (not to be confused with substitute defender Ming Li) tucked away a penalty after team-mate Hui Xie had been pole-axed in the area by Ahmed Doukhi Al-Dosary. The less talented Al-Dosary was sent off, and his namesake Obaid couldn't continue his scoring streak. Mohammed Al-Khlaiwi did score in the 90th minute, but it was too late to keep the Saudis unbeaten. GROUP 1 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. China PR 3 3 0 0 7 4 3 9 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Thailand 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 4 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Saudi Arabia 2 1 0 1 5 3 2 3 4. Uzbekistan 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1 5. Bahrain 3 0 0 3 1 6 -5 0 Group 2 Results Iran - 3 (AR Mansourian 7, A Daei 42, K Azizi 78) Kuwait - 1 (S Hadi 19) Iran's fast-paced, long-ball strategy was too much for Kuwait. The visiting defence was broken after seven minutes by Darioush Yazdani's pinpoint delivery to Ali Reza Mansourian, which was driven into the net by the St Pauli midfielder. Kuwait centre-half Salamah Hadi drew level on 19 minutes, but the tide soon turned back towards Team Melli. A fierce shot from Hertha BSC's Ali Daei restored Iran's lead three minutes before half-time. A third Bundesliga player - Gladbach's recent free signing Khodadad Azizi - rubber-stamped Iran's third win late in the second period. Iraq - 2 (H Jaafar 11, A Abduljabar 35) Kazakhstan - 1 (A Kulshinbaev 77) Iraq qualified for their first World Cup in 1986, but they could be about to make another appearance 16 years later. The Lions of Mesopotamia were on top throughout the first half against Kazakhstan. Young winger Habib Jaafar's 11th-minute opener was followed later in the period by a ferocious attempt from lone centre-forward Ahmad Abduljabar. Kazakhstan tested Iraq's defence greatly in the second half, but while Eugeny Tarasov couldn't find the net, Almas Kulshinbaev could. The defender/striker's first international goal at least gave the Qarşığalar some pride, if not any precious points. GROUP 2 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Iran 3 3 0 0 6 2 4 9 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Iraq 2 1 1 0 4 3 1 4 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Kuwait 2 1 0 1 3 3 0 3 4. Syria 2 0 1 1 2 3 -1 1 5. Kazakhstan 3 0 0 3 2 6 -4 0
  5. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    Good grief, you're young, aren't you? This wasn't a bad England team, to be fair, but they just aren't up to scratch in CM00/01 for some reason. It's not like nowadays, when England are mediocre in real-life but often challenge for major trophies in FM.
  6. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    Ah, that must've passed me by somehow. I can understand why you'd support Iran above England. They were certainly more impressive and knew their gameplan better than England at the last World Cup, and they actually looked like they wanted to be there. Being a white east Londoner whose parents and grandparents are all white Londoners themselves, I kind of wish I had a second nationality that I could lean back on if and when England disgrace themselves.
  7. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    After one game? Steady on! To be fair, they're in a favourable group. China and Saudi Arabia in the other group are rather tougher to split. Out of interest, what's the deal with your support of Iran? I'm genuinely intrigued, as you've put Iran before England in the list of teams you follow, and you've previously managed them in your FM07 story.
  8. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    12 SEPTEMBER 2001 There are no words in the English dictionary that can adequately describe the events which took place on the morning of Tuesday 11 September 2001 in the United States of America. Almost everyone on this planet who was alive at the time can remember where they were when two hijacked planes crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. (In all honesty, even though I was 11 years old at the time, I have no recollection at all of what I was doing when the news broke. I don't think I was even fully aware that such a major catastrophe had taken place until the following morning.) Outside the World Trade Center, there were two other hijackings on the east coast of the USA. One plane crashed into the Pentagon - which housed the Department of Defense - in Virginia. Another flight was driven towards Washington DC, with the intention of attacking the Capitol Building, but it crashed in Pennsylvania as passengers attempted to regain control from the hijackers. All in all, nearly 3,000 people from over 60 nations lost their lives in the attacks. Another 6,000 were wounded. These were the deadliest terrorist acts in world history. All Champions League matches that were scheduled for the evening of 11 September were played, with a minute's silence being held before kick-off. However, the following evening's fixtures were postponed for security reasons. In this CM universe, the three World Cup qualifiers planned to take place in North America on 12 September are going ahead. (Had real-life circumstances been taken into account, those fixtures would have almost certainly been pushed back to later dates.) That means the United States of America's match against Jamaica takes place under a dark cloud at the Rose Bowl. Emotions are sure to run high in Los Angeles as the Stars & Stripes - currently top of the CONCACAF Final Round table - look to provide solace for their compatriots during a tumultuous period. Security has been ramped up in California, and also in Edmonton, Alberta. That's where Canada are playing Barbados, who realistically need to cause a major upset to stay in qualification contention. The Canucks are aiming to take another major step towards their first world finals since 1986. Tonight's other match sees 2nd-placed Mexico - still undefeated throughout the qualifiers - take on El Salvador. I'm expecting that to be a comfortable home win, much like the other two games. On today of all days, though, the results won't seem quite so significant. CONCACAF Final Round Results Canada - 5 (A Bunbury 7,31,34,54,78) Barbados - 0 It was a 'high five' for Canada, and specifically for their stalwart striker Alex Bunbury. The 34-year-old Kansas City wizard broke the deadlock with a magical header from Paul Stalteri's cross after seven minutes. Bunbury would cause the Barbados defence yet more problems later in the first half, eventually completing a hat-trick of headed goals in the 34th minute. However, there was still more to come. In the 54th minute, he took Stalteri's flick-on past Barbadian keeper Alton Kilcullen before tapping into an empty net. Kilcullen was later replaced with Bevan Hawthorne, but he too would be beaten by Bunbury 12 minutes from time. It just gets worse and worse for the Bajans... Mexico - 2 (G Villa 45, C Blanco 80) El Salvador - 0 Meixco took another large step towards the World Cup by brushing El Salvador aside at the Estadio Azteca. Salvadorean goalkeeper Juan María Bouso made a couple of early saves from Gerardo Torrado and Paco, but the loss of his centre-back Jorge Rodriguez to injury in the 22nd minute was a crippling blow. Germán Villa opened the scoring for Mexico on the stroke of half-time, and another late goal in the second half would seal victory. Ten minutes from time, Cuauhtemoc Blanco outjumped substitute visiting substitute Braulio Jesús Cons to head Villa's cross into the net and bag his first goal of the qualifiers. United States of America - 3 (F Hejduk 48, JM Moore 67,73) Jamaica - 0 Nobody's stopping the USA from qualifying, are they? Jamaica's goalkeeper and captain Warren Barrett valiantly kept a clean sheet in the first half, but his game fell apart three minutes after the restart. Frankie Hejduk's shot was pushed back to the Leverkusen winger, who buried the rebound. Everton hotshot Joe Max Moore then headed in crosses from Chris Henderson (who's apparently a friend of Owain Williams) and John Harkes (who isn't) to put the Stars & Stripes nine points clear of 4th-placed Jamaica, with 12 left to play for. P W D L F A GD PTS 1. USA 6 5 1 0 18 2 16 16 2. Mexico 6 3 3 0 12 2 10 12 3. Canada 6 3 2 1 12 7 5 11 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 4. Jamaica 6 2 1 3 10 11 -1 7 5. El Salvador 6 1 1 4 5 12 -7 4 6. Barbados 6 0 0 6 2 25 -23 0 15 SEPTEMBER 2001 The 10 group winners in Round 1 of the AFC qualifiers have had a few weeks to rest their weary legs and prepare for the next stage. Round 2 starts now. Our surviving teams are now drawn into two groups of five. Over the next two months, every team plays their group opponents on a home-and-away basis. The group winners qualify automatically for the World Cup, while the runners-up must take part in a one-off Playoff match to determine who reaches the Intercontinental Playoff stage. Iran and Saudi Arabia are the top seeds in this second round, and with good reason. They are firmly amongst the continent's leading lights, having graced multiple World Cups and won seven Asian Cups between them. They also had perfect win records in Round 1, though to be fair, most of those victories came against teams who would struggle to beat Clydebank. Iraq were another team who could lay claim to having a spotless record in their opening group. They and China PR are perhaps most likely to challenge the established frontrunners for qualification. Kuwait first qualified for the World Cup in 1982. However, their time in Spain was not a happy one, and was perhaps best remembered for Prince Fahad stepping onto the pitch and ordering the referee to disallow a French goal. Two decades on, could the Blues make a repeat appearance? (Fahad certainly won't, having been killed during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990.) Bahrain, Syria, Thailand and Uzbekistan all have enough quality to potentially cause a few surprises, and perhaps even gate-crash the top two spots in their groups. On the other hand, I wouldn't expect too much from Kazakhstan, as they were the only group winners to lose a match in Round 1. Was not nice, as Borat might say. AFC Round 2 Group Draw GROUP 1: Bahrain, China PR, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Uzbekistan The two Asian teams who qualified automatically for the real-life World Cup have wound up in the same pool. China and Saudi Arabia have each found goals easy to come by, and it's almost inconceivable that neither side will finish top of Group 1. If I was to pick a dark horse for this group, though, I'd pick the White Wolves of Uzbekistan. GROUP 2: Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Syria You might as well write "Ira" beside the top two positions in Group 2, and then just wait to see where to put the "n" and the "q". The favourites for automatic qualification are obvious, and I can't see the other three teams getting close. Syria are probably the 'best of the rest', though Kuwait will be on a high after their dramatic progression from Round 1. Group 1 Results Bahrain - 0 Saudi Arabia - 3 (FA Amin 21, O Al-Dosary 34, M Al-Sahafi 70) If this is a sign of things to come, then everyone else in Group 1 had better beware Saudi Arabia. Green Falcons defender Fuad Anwar Amin was in full flight in the 21st minute, jumping clear of Bahrain's Abdullah Wabran Youssef to head in the opening goal. 13 minutes later, Amin's goal was complemented by one from Obaid Al-Dosary, who was contractually obliged to score again. Though Bahrain tried to put up a fight, they were finished off by a 70th-minute header from Al-Dosary's strike partner Mohammed Al-Sahafi. The Saudis then found time to give a cameo to a 34-year-old gentleman named Saeed Al-Owairan. Uzbekistan - 1 (M Kasymov 8) China PR - 2 (M Ma 63, H Xie 65) China got Round 2 off to an inauspicious start, conceding after eight minutes. Uzbekistan captain Mirdjalol Kasymov rounded a couple of visiting players on his way to scoring a sublime solo goal. The White Wolves carried a 1-0 lead into the second half, but if they thought they would still be ahead at full-time, then they knew nothing, Jon Snow. China's second-half performance was in (Ned) Stark contrast to their first-half display, as winger Mingyu Ma and Hui Xie scored within a couple of minutes of each other to secure a 2-1 win for the Dragons. (As far as I know, none of the Dragons belong to Daenerys Targaryen.) Group 2 Results Iran - 1 (R Khatibi 45) Syria - 0 Iran were the bookmakers' favourites to win Group 2, but if I was a betting man, I wouldn't put much money on them after this display. Though Team Melli enjoyed more possession than Syria, it was the Qasioun Eagles who had more scoring chances. Admittedly, most of those had come in the second half, when they were chasing the game. Iran had taken the lead in the 45th minute through substitute Rasoul Khatibi, who'd replaced the injured Karim Bagheri. It would take several late saves from Ahmad Reza Abedzadeh to keep the hosts' noses in front at the final whistle. Kuwait - 2 (A Al-Mutairi 29, B Abdullah 68) Kazakhstan - 0 I can pinpoint the exact moment Kazakhstan lost their Round 2 opener. It was in just the fourth minute, when an overenthusiastic Rodion Loria made a two-footed lunge on his Kuwaiti midfield counterpart Abdullah Wabran. Loria was sent off straight away, and the Qarşığalar failed to muster so much as a shot at goal in the remaining 86 minutes. Kuwait took the lead after 29 minutes, with a long-ranger from Ahmed Al-Mutairi doing the damage. Then, on 68 minutes, Wabran's long ball into the Kazakh area was met by a strong header from near-namesake Bashar Abdullah, who wrapped up a 2-0 home win.
  9. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    5 SEPTEMBER 2001 It's now been 96 hours since that night in Berlin, where England's hopes of taking the World Cup home from the Far East next summer were shattered by Germany. I swear I haven't spent the last four nights crying myself to sleep, honest. Kevin Keegan is now right up there with Gary Glitter and 'Nasty' Nick Bateman as one of the most hated men in the country. Expect the England boss and his team to be met by a chorus of boos in Liverpool when they host Anfield tonight in what has now become a dead rubber. UEFA Group 9's other match is not, as Finland can potentially leapfrog Germany into top spot by beating Greece - a result that would end the Galanolefki's qualification hopes. Elsewhere in the penultimate round of UEFA qualifiers, a number of teams can secure their finals places. If Russia make light work of the Faroe Islands, they would need Yugoslavia to slip up against Slovenia to be sure of topping Group 1. That sounds like something that could happen. Denmark currently lead the Czech Republic by two points in Group 3. The Danish Dynamite will be guaranteed a place at Korea/Japan 2002 if they win in Bulgaria and the Czechs contrive to drop points at home to Malta. Yeah, er, that sounds like something that could happen as well... Group 6 could be decided in Brussels, where Belgium and Scotland put their unbeaten records on the line. The Tartan Army will secure automatic qualification if they win, but a home victory would see them slip a point behind the Red Devils. A draw would keep Scotland's fate in their hands heading into next month's concluding matches. Bosnia & Herzegovina travel to Austria knowing that the World Cup virgins need just one more win to qualify from Group 7. 2nd-placed Spain - who should make simple work of Liechtenstein - will obviously be hoping they don't. We also have the 14th round of CONMEBOL matches to look ahead to. Brazil travel to Ecuador having already secured qualification, so they can relax for their final five games. Argentina can join their great rivals in the finals if they beat a Colombia side who are close to securing a top-five placing. La Albiceleste would also need Peru to get at least a point against Paraguay to cement their World Cup status. Uruguay will be guaranteed a Playoff berth at worst if they can heap further misery upon free-fallers Venezuela. Tonight's other match between Bolivia and Chile could end with both teams being eliminated. La Verde must win at the very least to have a chance of staying in the hunt, while a defeat could be terminal for Marcelo Salas and co. UEFA Group Stage Group 1 Results Faroe Islands - 0 Russia - 4 (A Mostovoi 12, V Kechinov 21, I Korneev 34, V Bestchastnykh 45) Russia showed the Faroe Islands no mercy in the first half of this battle between little and large. Sporting midfielder Alexander Mostovoi was off the mark after just 12 minutes, and winger Valery Kechinov followed that up nine minutes later. Strikers Igor Korneev and Vladimir Bestchastnykh would also score later in the half, but things would take a dark turn just before half-time. Korneev pushed Faroes striker Todi Jónsson without provocation and was duly sent off. Russia's 10 men couldn't score again, though a 4-0 win secured them a Playoff place at worst. Luxembourg - 1 (M Zarinski pen66) Switzerland - 3 (S Chapuisat pen23,60, D Kalezic 90) Top spot may be beyond Switzerland's reach now, but they still harbour hopes of making the Playoffs. Despite losing David Sesa to a twisted ankle after just eight minutes, the Swiss took the lead a quarter-hour later through their other striker. Stéphane Chapuisat scored from the spot after being obstructed by Luxembourg keeper Serge Rohmann. The 32-year-old would score again on the hour mark after Rohmann had parried Marc Gaspoz's initial effort. Luxembourg's captain Michael Zarinski then pulled one goal back from the spot, but a last-minute strike from Nati defender - and future Stockport manager - Darije Kalezic ensured that the points went to Switzerland. Yugoslavia - 5 (P Mijatovic 9,61, D Kovacevic 17,66, D Tomic 25) Slovenia - 1 (U Barut 83) Yugoslavia remain in the race for automatic qualification after destroying their local rivals. Serie A duo Predrag Mijatovic and Darko Kovacevic each took early opportunities in the 9th and 17th minutes. Another eight minutes passed before Mallorca winger Jovan Stankovic's cross was tapped into the net by Oviedo midfielder Djordje Tomic for 3-0. The Blues' lead was then stretched further still in the second half, as Mijatovic and Kovacevic secured braces. Slovenia striker Uros Barut got the final word in, but this former Yugoslav republic will have to wait for their World Cup debut. GROUP 1 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Russia 9 7 1 1 24 7 17 22 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Yugoslavia 9 6 1 2 20 7 13 19 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Switzerland 9 5 2 2 19 9 10 17 4. Slovenia 9 5 0 4 15 14 1 15 5. Faroe Islands 9 2 0 7 6 21 -15 6 6. Luxembourg 9 0 0 9 5 31 -26 0 Group 2 Results Cyprus - 1 (M Konstantinou 32) Portugal - 3 (N Gomes 1, B Almeida 74, Lixa 84) Portugal have an eighth win on the board, though Cyprus made life rather difficult for them in Nicosia - or at least they did after conceding a Nuno Gomes header in the very first minute. The Cypriots survived a few more Portuguese shots before a 32nd-minute free-kick from Sporting's Mihalis Konstantinou got them level against the run of play. They even looked like holding on for a draw until defender Costas Constantindinou sustained a knee ligament injury in the 64th minute, just five minutes after replacing Aggelos Kifonidis. Portugal took full advantage, as Basílio Almeida - who scored 22 Primeira Liga goals for Salgueiros last term - scored his first international goal on 74 minutes. Lixa followed that up with a second goal in two caps, and so the spoils went to the Seleção. Netherlands - 2 (R Vrede 2, F De Boer 53) Estonia - 0 The Netherlands rightly earn a lot of plaudits for their free-flowing 'Total Football'. However, it was a couple of central defenders who saw them through this match against Estonia at the Amsterdam Arena. First to come good was Ajax's Regilio Vrede, who flicked Marc Overmars' corner over the despairing Mart Poom after just two minutes. Frank De Boer then doubled the Oranje's lead on 53 minutes, thundering in a free-kick after Patrick Kluivert had been fouled by Sergei Terehhov. A midfield masterclass from Clarence Seedorf then helped the Netherlands to finish the job. GROUP 2 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Portugal 9 8 0 1 24 5 19 24 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Netherlands 9 8 0 1 22 3 19 24 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Republic of Ireland 9 5 0 4 12 7 5 15 4. Estonia 9 3 1 5 8 11 -3 10 5. Cyprus 9 1 2 6 5 18 -13 5 6. Andorra 9 0 1 8 2 29 -27 1 Group 3 Results Bulgaria - 0 Denmark - 0 Considering the amount of quality these teams had between them, a goalless draw was certainly not the outcome many onlookers expected. Denmark had a particularly difficult time trying to break through a stubborn Bulgaria defence. While Lions defender Ivan Pantsef was putting in one of his best ever performances, the Danish striker Henrik Pedersen's shooting was... well, pants. The rivals shared two shots on target and two points, but neither would have been pleased to do so. Bulgaria are now eliminated, while Denmark have conceded top spot to the Czech Republic. Czech Republic - 6 (P Nedved 12,34,88, V Lokvenc 23,26, M Baranek 59) Malta - 0 While the Danes struggled in Sofia, the Czechs were perfect in Prague. The new leaders of Group 3 put SIX goals beyond Malta, half of which came from the magical feet of Pavel Nedved. The Lazio left-winger helped himself to a first-half brace, with Vratislav Lokvenc also finding time to beat Saviour Darmanin twice himself. Saviour didn't look like saving anything in the 59th minute, when a powerful Miroslav Baranek header looped past him. When Nedved completed the rout with two minutes to go, the Czech Republic taunted the vanquished Falcons by substituting their goalkeeper Jaromir Blazek, who'd only had to make one save all night! Now that is just rubbing it in! Northern Ireland - 2 (P McKnight 28,86) Iceland - 0 Northern Ireland's Aaron Hughes is one of the few players in CM00/01 who is still playing international football as of 2018. In this universe, he is a 21-year-old Newcastle defender nursing a knee injury, which he sustained 32 minutes into this meeting with Iceland. St Mirren striker Paul McKnight had put Norn Iron ahead four minutes beforehand, heading in a cross from Michael Hughes. McKnight was shining in his armour again when he doubled the Green & White Army's lead on 86 minutes. Though Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying have long gone, they've now climbed above Iceland into 4th. GROUP 3 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Czech Republic 9 7 1 1 23 5 18 22 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Denmark 9 7 1 1 19 3 16 22 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Bulgaria 9 4 3 2 8 7 1 15 4. Iceland 9 3 0 6 6 11 -5 9 5. Northern Ireland 9 2 1 6 7 14 -7 7 6. Malta 9 1 0 8 4 27 -23 3 Group 4 Results Azerbaijan - 1 (A Ponomarev 86) Macedonia - 1 (M Jokic 60) Group 4's bottom two shared the points in a surprisingly attractive attacking contest. The first half didn't see much action, but things livened up once the teams had their half-time refreshments. A Herculean effort from Hércules striker Miroslav Jokic broke the stranglehold for Macedonia in the 60th minute. Azerbaijan goalkeeper Alexandr Zhidkov had already withstood several chances before finally being beaten, but his counterpart Oka Nikolov was not so impressive. Nikolov lost the lead late on, as Milli teenager Anatolij Ponomarev's header secured a draw for bottom team Azerbaijan. Slovakia - 0 Moldova - 0 This match wasn't absolutely 'must-win' for Slovakia, but one can't help feeling they've missed a trick. The Repre's attackers folded in the first half against Moldova's defence, which - to be fair - was held together brilliantly by Los Angeles' former Bristol City centre-half Ivan Tistimetanu. As for the second half, that was a miserable affair from both teams' perspectives. Slovakia midfielder Robert Tomaschek bruised his thigh in the 62nd minute, and Moldova winger Radu Rebeja gashed his leg six minutes later. Those two injuries killed what little momentum was left in this match. Turkey - 0 Sweden - 0 It's a Group 4 drawfest, folks! And just like last October, what should've been a pulsating encounter between the Blågult and the Crescent-Stars petered out into a 0-0 stalemate. If it was any consolation, at least Turkey tried to score every now and then. Four of their players - including the excellent Besiktas striker Ahmet Dursun - had shots saved by Sweden goalkeeper Mattias Asper. The Swedes were quite happy to defend throughout and grind out a draw, in the knowledge that they would stay ahead of Turkey on goal difference. With the Blågult's final match coming against Azerbaijan at home next month, top spot is theirs to lose now. GROUP 4 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Sweden 9 5 3 1 12 2 10 18 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Turkey 9 5 3 1 13 7 6 18 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Slovakia 9 4 3 2 10 7 3 15 4. Moldova 9 3 2 4 10 12 -2 11 5. Macedonia 9 2 1 6 7 12 -5 7 6. Azerbaijan 9 1 2 6 7 19 -12 5 Group 5 Results Belarus - 2 (P Mikhalevitch 8, V Mazur 14) Poland - 0 Poland were pole-axed by a Belarus team who tend to switch back and forth between playing brilliantly and playing like Southampton. The Belarussians were more like the former here, particularly in the opening 14 minutes. NEC midfielder Pavel Mikhalevitch stabbed in the first goal from Maxim Romaschenko's through-ball just eight minutes after kick-off. When Vasiliy Mazur found the net himself six minutes later, the Biało-czerwoni were fatally wounded. They struggled through the rest of the match before succumbing to a defeat that would end their World Cup aspirations. Norway - 0 Wales - 0 In the absence of pie-scoffing socialist Neville Southall, Wales were - to misquote Bonnie Tyler - holding out for a new goalkeeping hero. They might just have found one in Middlesbrough's Mark Crossley. Red Dragons boss Mark Hughes gave him the nod ahead of regular number 1 Paul Jones for this match in Oslo, and he was rewarded with an outstanding defensive display. Norway were denied time after time by Crossley, with a couple of fingertip saves from Tore Andre Flo headers in the 59th and 60th minutes standing out. Wales held firm for a potentially crucial point, which keeps them above Norway with one game to go. Ukraine - 4 (A Golokolosov 11,29, A Shevchenko 35,56) Armenia - 1 (W Geworian 39) People really should watch out for Ukraine, who have a strike force to be feared! 20-year-old sensation Alexander Golokolosov scored on his debut four days ago, and he followed that up with a brace against winless Armenia. His second goal - scored after 29 minutes - was set up by his more experienced colleague Andriy Shevchenko. The Milan marvel also got in on the scoring action in the 35th minute, though 19-year-old Wahan Geworian struck for Armenia four minutes later. Shevchenko's second goal put the result beyond doubt after the restart, as the Zhovto-Blakytni went two points clear at the top of Group 5. They can now secure a World Cup debut by winning in Poland next month. GROUP 5 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Ukraine 9 6 1 2 17 7 10 19 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Wales 9 5 2 2 10 7 3 17 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Norway 9 5 1 3 9 8 1 16 4. Poland 9 3 2 4 10 11 -1 11 5. Belarus 9 3 1 5 10 8 2 10 6. Armenia 9 0 3 6 4 19 -15 3 Group 6 Results Belgium - 1 (M Wilmots pen41) Scotland - 1 (M Wilmots og65) One felt that something had to give in Brussels... but in the end, both teams maintained their unbeaten records. The neutrals had Belgium captain Marc Wilmots to thank for that. Four minutes before the end of a tense first half, Scotland veteran Alex Rae pulled on Robby Van De Weyer's shirt to concede a penalty, which Wilmots powered past Neil Sullivan. The second half would be less enjoyable for Bordeaux's workhorse midfielder, who unfortunately deflected a 65th-minute Craig Burley into his own net. That leveller meant Scotland remained top of the group, though the Tartan Army couldn't grab a late winner that would've secured their qualification. San Marino - 0 Croatia - 5 (D Suker 5,18,29,34, M Rapaic 80) If only Davor Suker hadn't saved his best goalscoring form for when Croatia had already been eliminated, eh? The Vatreni stalwart celebrated his 50th cap with by scoring four goals in the space of half an hour during the first period. The 33-year-old West Ham striker could easily have had more, but San Marino goalkeeper Mauro D'Astoli did about as well as he could to stop the scoreline from becoming ridiculous. Milan Rapaic eventually got a late fifth goal for Croatia against La Serenissima, whose own attacking threat was non-existent. GROUP 6 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Scotland 7 5 2 0 15 4 11 17 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Belgium 7 4 3 0 16 4 12 15 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Latvia 7 3 1 3 10 7 3 10 4. Croatia 7 3 0 4 15 9 6 9 5. San Marino 8 0 0 8 1 33 -32 0 Group 7 Results Austria - 2 (M Haas pen55, D Kühbauer 90) Bosnia & Herzegovina - 3 (E Bolic 2, S Barbarez pen26, E Baljic 83) Bosnia & Herzegovina knew that victory in Vienna would effectively put them through to the finals... and they didn't disappoint. Austria's defence was breached after only a couple of minutes by Elvir Bolic, who headed in a cross form Elvir Baljic. Sergej Barbarez put the Zmajevi 2-0 up with a penalty in the 26th minute after Vedin Music had been brought down by Burschen keeper Alex Manninger. Austria replied with a penalty of their own early in the second half, as Strasbourg's Mario Haas netted after Wolfsburg's Dietmar Kühbauer was scythed down by Zlatan Muslimovic. Baljic reinstated the Bosnians' two-goal cushion on 83 minutes, and a second Austrian strike - this time from Kühbauer - came far too late to change the outcome. Liechtenstein - 0 Spain - 4 (Alfonso 2,36,60, G Mendieta 84) Let me illustrate the gulf in class between these two sides. Spain's striker Alfonso got a match rating of 10 (out of 10); Liechtenstein goalkeeper Martin Heeb scored a 2. Heeb's horror show began when Alfonso blasted a shot beyond his reach in just the second minute. He then conceded a rather soft header in the 36th minute to the Barcelona goal machine, who would secure a second hat-trick against the Blues-Reds on the hour. The hosts were then put out of their misery when Spain captain Gaizka Mendieta struck in a free-kick from right-back after 84 minutes. Despite winning 4-0, though, La Furia Roja will have to plan for the World Cup Playoffs, with Bosnia & Herzegovina qualifying automatically*. * Officially, the game hasn't yet registered Bosnia & Herzegovina as having qualified for the World Cup. However, they are level on points with Spain at the top, and will - at worst - finish above them on head-to-head. You can therefore take it from me that Bosnia & Herzegovina will definitely be in the finals. GROUP 7 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Bosnia & Herzegovina 7 6 1 0 14 5 9 19 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Spain 8 6 1 1 19 3 16 19 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Austria 7 3 0 4 8 8 0 9 4. Israel 7 2 0 5 12 15 -3 6 5. Liechtenstein 7 0 0 7 1 23 -22 0 Group 8 Results Georgia - 2 (G Kinkladze 5, M Jikia 45) Lithuania - 3 (I Morinas 28, T Grazunas 35,62) A topsy-turvy match in Tbilisi ended with a crestfallen Georgia suffering their fifth defeat in seven games. It actually started pretty well for the Jvarosnebi, as Alexander Iaschwili's through-ball set up the opening goal for Georgi Kinkladze in the fifth minute. Lithuania retaliated with a couple of fine strikes, as Igoris Morinas and Tadas Grazunas turned 1-0 to 1-2. Georgia midfielder Mamia Jikia equalised just before half-time, but a mistake from their keeper Nikoloz Schkeidze in the second half proved costly. He spilled an Edgaras Jankauskas shot square into the path of Grazunas, who struck the winner for Lithuania. Hungary - 0 Romania - 0 Romania secured their playoff place with a draw in Budapest, though they could have recorded a resounding win on another day. The Tricolorii hit Hungary with a host of fast-paced counter-attacks that often ended with Gabor Kiràly having to bail his team out. He was left with even more work to do in the 28th minute, when striker Attila Tököli turned into Attila the Hun, headbutting Romania right-back Cosmin Contra! Tököli was sent off, but the 10 men somehow survived against their more illustrious opponents, whose other full-back Stefan Nanu twisted his knee shortly before half-time. GROUP 8 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Italy 7 7 0 0 23 2 21 21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Romania 7 3 2 2 11 7 4 11 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Lithuania 8 3 0 5 9 17 -8 9 4. Hungary 7 2 1 4 4 14 -10 7 5. Georgia 7 1 1 5 6 13 -7 4 Group 9 Results England - 2 (D Beckham 10, J Cole 47) Albania - 1 (R Zaimi 79) Having failed to qualify for the World Cup, England were met with a hostile reception at Anfield. It didn't get much better at full-time, following a very unconvincing win. David Beckham got them off the mark after 10 minutes, with the Manchester United midfielder scoring from a cross by - of all people - Sol Campbell. Sulzeer would come off hurt in the 53rd minute, though not before teenager Joe Cole bagged his first international goal. Albania then lost captain Arian Zoumba to injury before Ronald Zaimi's diving header past Richard Wright set up a nervy finish. Finland - 3 (M Forssell 19, P Pasanen 23, S Valakari 31) Greece - 1 (D Nalitzis 90) Finland are a step closer to their maiden World Cup after securing a playoff spot at Greece's expense. A couple of 20-year-olds found the Greek net midway through the first half in striker Mikael Forssell (no surprise) and defender Petri Pasanen (big surprise). Former Motherwell icon Simo Valakari volleyed in the Finns' third and final goal shortly afterwards. It was plain sailing from then on, especially after the Galanolefki were reduced to 10 men by an injury to centre-half Stelios Venetidis. Substitute forward Dimitris Nalitzis got a late consolation goal, but Greece won't be the word on anyone's lips next year. (Maybe in 2004, though. Just maybe.) People will be talking about Finland in the Far East if the Huuhkajat can avoid losing their final group match in Germany next month. GROUP 9 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Finland 7 5 1 1 16 7 9 16 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Germany 7 5 0 2 16 9 7 15 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Greece 7 3 1 3 13 12 1 10 4. England 7 3 1 3 9 12 -3 10 5. Albania 8 0 1 7 3 17 -14 1 CONMEBOL Qualifiers Results Bolivia - 1 (L Gutiérrez 23) Chile - 1 (A Osorio 47) Bolivia have been knocked out of the World Cup, and it looks like they've taken Chile with them. La Roja struggled with the Cochabamba altitude in the first half, midway through which they conceded to Limberg Gutiérrez. Bolivia could have taken the lead before then, but Gutiérrez had a penalty claim controversially waved away in the 13th minute. La Verde would feel aggrieved when they lost their advantage to Chile's attacking midfielder Alejandro Osorio early in the second half. Marcelo Salas then had a chance to win the game for the visitors, but his 88th-minute header hit the bar. Colombia - 0 Argentina - 3 (JS Verón 21,43, W Gaitán 53) Colombia went into this match looking to consolidate 4th place. They ended it battered and bruised, as a rampant Argentina side moved to the brink of qualification. Juan Sebastián Verón provided further evidence that he was one of world football's elite players with two first-half goals, including a spectacular curler just before half-time. La Albiceleste effectively sealed victory on 53 minutes, when Diego Pablo Simeone's knock-down was powered home by Gaitán. That's not Nicolás Gaitán, but his older namesake - Villarreal midfielder Walter Gaitán (who, confusingly, has the middle name Nicolás). Ecuador - 0 Brazil - 5 (Vágner 11, Ronaldo 12,29, Roberto Carlos 20, Zago 52) Inter megastar Ronaldo missed Brazil's first 12 World Cup qualifiers due to an ACL injury that effectively wiped out his 2000/2001 season. The Seleção skipper returned to form in Guayaquil, where he scored twice in the first half-hour. Then, being Ronaldo, he tore a muscle in his groin, which ruled him out for another three months. Vágner and Roberto Carlos also got their names on the scoresheet before Roma defender Zago wrapped up a 5-0 away win. It was another sobering experience for Ecuador, whose own star striker Ariel Graziani sustained a knee injury in the closing stages. Paraguay - 2 (FJ Arce 8, D Caballero 39) Peru - 0 The battle for 5th place might just have taken a decisive turn in Paraguay's favour. La Albirroja were at risk of being overtaken by Peru with a home defeat, but they accounted for their rivals with a dominant display. A 'Chiqui' finish from right-back Francisco Javier Arce in the eighth minute set them up nicely, and his fellow defender Darío Caballero also struck in the 39th. Goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert had a surprisingly quiet evening, as Peru didn't give him any shots to worry about. Nolberto Solano obviously left his trumpet back home in Newcastle. Uruguay - 4 (D Alonso 6,28,90, J Anchén pen43) Venezuela - 0 Uruguay guaranteed themselves a top-five finish as Venezuela's incredible collapse showed no sign of stopping. La Celeste won 11-0 on the 'shots on target' count, scoring with four of them. Valencia's Diego Alonso was assisted by Álvaro Recoba for the first two goals in the 6th and 28th minutes. Recoba's hat-trick of assists was completed just before half-time, when Venezuela goalie Emilio Haberli hacked him down in the penalty area. Haberli was dismissed, and Schalke 04 midfielder Jorge Anchén put the spot-kick beyond replacement keeper Rafael Edgar Dudamel. The second half was more of a struggle for Uruguay, though Alonso managed to complete his treble in the closing moments. P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Brazil 15 11 2 2 34 7 27 35 2. Pl Argentina 15 10 1 4 30 13 17 31 3. Pl Uruguay 15 8 6 1 27 11 16 30 4. Colombia 15 7 4 4 24 23 1 25 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5. Paraguay 15 6 4 5 19 14 5 22 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6. Peru 15 5 3 7 13 18 -5 18 7. Venezuela 15 4 3 8 8 25 -17 15 8. Chile 15 3 4 8 11 21 -10 13 9. Bolivia 15 2 4 9 9 25 -16 10 10. Ecuador 15 3 1 11 7 25 -18 10 Qualified Nations for World Cup (11 confirmed) France (holders), South Korea (co-hosts), Japan (co-hosts), Italy, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco, Brazil, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  10. CFuller

    An Impossible Man

    *** Four months after leaving Russia proudly carrying FIFA World Cup bronze medals in their luggage, England's players were back in Moscow once again. This time, their aim was simply to avoid relegation from Division A of the UEFA Nations League. With two matches to go, England were second in Group 3, behind France by three points and ahead of Russia on head-to-head. The Three Lions' 2-0 win over the Russians at Wembley the previous month meant that they had a chance to secure survival in the rematch at the Luzhniki stadium. Russia had to win here, otherwise they would be relegated to Division B, and both England and France would be safe. Regardless of whether they won or drew this match, England knew that they would need to beat France at Wembley four days later to top the group and qualify for the Nations League Semi Finals. On the other hand, a defeat would rule the Three Lions out of contention for first place, and it would also leave them having to beat Les Bleus simply to have a chance of staying up. Manager Mark Catterall's focus would be firmly on keeping things tight and making sure his Three Lions did not concede. That said, his plans would be complicated by the weather in Moscow. Light slow had fallen on the Luzhniki surface overnight, while strong winds had the potential to wreak havoc on Catterall's passing game. Catterall would also be without his captain Jordan Henderson through absence. Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart took the armband in Henderson's absence, and he would be a rather busier man here than at Wembley when the Russians came to visit. Hart had to make his first save after just two minutes, catching Russian centre-half Ivan Novoseltsev's header from a lobbed free-kick by Denis Cheryshev. The hosts won another free-kick in a dangerous position four minutes later, when England left-back Luke Shaw went in hard on Taras Burlak. Pavel Mamaev went straight for goal from that one, and Hart did tremendously to clutch the FC Krasnodar midfielder's effort to his chest. Keeping goal for Russia was 32-year-old captain Igor Akinfeev, whose 121st cap put him just two away from matching the national record held by Sergey Ignashevich. Akinfeev had kept a few clean sheets in that time, but he was very nearly beaten in the 10th minute by a shot from James Ward-Prowse. The CSKA Moscow stalwart just about diverted the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder's drive against his right-hand post before gathering it at the second attempt. Akinfeev would have more work to do in the 13th and 17th minutes, when he saved a couple of efforts from England's left-sided inside-forward Jesse Lingard. On the opposite flank was the reinstated Adam Lallana, who couldn't have been too pleased to fire a short pass from Ward-Prowse over the crossbar in the 18th minute. The Three Lions were far from their best, and as expected, their usually slick passing was being hampered by the conditions in Moscow. Russia looked marginally more confident, and they could've hit England on the counter-attack after 35 minutes. Ward-Prowse's close-range free-kick rebounded off Cheryshev in the Russian penalty area and deflected out wide to Georgy Schennikov. The Sassuolo full-back dribbled forward and cut inside before knocking the ball to midfield talisman Alan Dzagoev, whose incisive pass was driven goalwards by Mamaev. Only another fantastic save by Hart spared England's blushes. The Three Lions had another opportunity to break the deadlock in the 36th minute, when Lingard's 20-yarder was parried behind by Akinfeev. Lingard had been far from impressive on his first England appearance since March, but Catterall decided to keep the Celta Vigo attacker on for the second half. His only substitution during the interval saw attacking midfielder Dele Alli make way for Ross Barkley. There had been no reports of any racism from the home fans during the first period, despite pre-match fears that the ugly side of the 'beautiful game' would once again rear its head in Russia. Unfortunately, any cordial respect from the Russians towards England's ethnic minority players seemed to go out the window once Barkley - who had a grandfather from Nigeria - came onto the field. Several home supporters in the main stand unfurled a large banner that read: "WE LOVE KELVIN MACKENZIE". That was in reference to the disgraced former editor of The Sun, who had been sacked in May 2017 after publishing a column that compared Barkley to a gorilla. The player himself would be greeted with monkey chants whenever he was in possession of the ball, and his black or mixed-race team-mates would also receive similar treatment. Barkley's first chance to silence the antagonists in the crowd came on 48 minutes. The Everton playmaker drilled an excellent pass to Tottenham striker Harry Kane, whose daisy-cutter from the edge of the Russian box was tipped wide. To some England fans of a certain vintage, it seemed that the excellent Akinfeev had summoned the spirit of the legendary Lev Yashin. That would be Kane's only shot in what was another disappointing performance from the 25-year-old. Russia's own frontman Fedor Smolov was similarly quiet before being subbed off early in the second half for Artem Dzyuba. He too would do little, apart from in the 80th minute. After his first shot was deflected behind by England's star centre-back John Stones, Dzyuba headed wide the resultant corner from Oleg Shatov. The second half in general was relatively highlight-less. Thanks to excellent defending from the likes of Stones and Novoseltsev at either end, the Russian and English attackers remained frustrated in their attempts to end the stand-off. Stones had formed a formidable England central defensive partnership with Chris Smalling, who remained undeterred by the sickening racist taunts that had been sent his way during the second period. Smalling's Manchester United team-mate Lingard was also subjected to such vitriol at various points, as was Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker. Things didn't really pick up until the closing 10 minutes, which began with Hart saving Cheryshev's deft header from a Schennikov cross. In the 85th minute, a sloppy back-pass from Dzyuba was cut out by Barkley, who looked for the run of England's substitute striker Jamie Vardy. Unfortunately for them, the Leicester City man could only scoop his shot over the crossbar. The Three Lions then survived their biggest scare in the final minute of normal time. Smalling and Ward-Prowse each made strong interceptions in quick successions from left-wing deliveries by Shatov. The ball then fell to Novoseltsev, who pulled Russia's final shot into the side netting, albeit from a difficult angle. There would be no goals forthcoming in a tense match in which the defences were very much on top. While a goalless draw hadn't exactly thrilled the England fans who'd travelled all the way to Moscow, the Three Lions had done their job effectively. They were now safe from relegation, and it was Russia who would have to contemplate life in Division B for the next Nations League cycle in 2020/2021. Considering how sections of their fanbase had behaved in the latter part of this match, that was probably for the best. With survival secured, England could now return home and prepare for their final group game. As far as the Semi Finals were concerned, it would be a case of 'win or bust' against France. 16 November 2018: UEFA Nations League Division A Group 3 - at Luzhniki, Moscow Russia - 0 England - 0 ENGLAND LINE-UP (4-2-3-1): Joe Hart; Kyle Walker, Chris Smalling, John Stones, Luke Shaw; James Ward-Prowse, Danny Drinkwater (Eric Dier); Adam Lallana, Dele Alli (Ross Barkley), Jesse Lingard; Harry Kane (Jamie Vardy). BOOKED: Drinkwater 63. Shortly after the full-time whistle blew, Lingard shook hands and swapped shirts with Dzyuba. Lamentably, their respect on the pitch was not shared in the stands, as scores of Russian spectators made further monkey chants when Lingard was displayed on one of the big screens at the Luzhniki. Lingard had tried to drown out the chants during the match, but now that it was over, he couldn't stay composed anymore. The Mancunian visibly choked up as he sprinted to Catterall in the dugout and asked furiously, "Did you hear that? Did you hear what those c***s are chanting?" Catterall groaned, "We heard it loud and clear, Jesse. They're a f***ing disgrace!" "I can't believe FIFA and UEFA let them get away with this! This always happens whenever black players go to Russia!" "The thing is, this ain't gonna stop unless the authorities show some balls for once in their lives." Smalling then came over and offered Lingard a consoling hug before telling Catterall, "This is just sickening. We never heard nothing like this at the World Cup." Catterall replied, "They had to be on their best behaviour for the World Cup, didn't they? They couldn't show themselves up on the big stage or they'd have been expelled [by FIFA and UEFA]. Now that that's over, they're crawling out the woodwork again!" "Come on, squad," Lingard growled. "Let's get outta here before it gets any worse." The England players and coaches retreated down the tunnel as the bitterness in the stands grew, with some fans even hurling bananas onto the pitch. Catterall then had a quick word with ITV's Gabriel Clarke, stating, "I only want to say one thing tonight, Gabriel. I think the way some of the Russian fans acted towards some of our players tonight was an absolute disgrace. I cannot understand how people can act in such an uncivilised way in this day and age. "Russian football has had problems with discrimination for years. Time after time, the governing bodies let them get away with it. You get fined more for having the wrong sponsor on your underwear than for racially abusing your opponents. "This has gone too far now. As far as I'm concerned, no England team will travel to this country again on my terms until the Russian FA clean up their act. If that means we have to boycott World Cup or European Championship qualifiers at some point down the line, then I'd rather we stick to our principles than condone this behaviour. "That's all I've got to say, Gabriel. Interview over."
  11. WorcesterLegend has explained it pretty well. Very few lower-league clubs can generate a profit, and you're unlikely to make any meaningful money consistently until you're in the Championship. My advice would be to just keep calm, but also keep well within your budgets, and keep an eye out for bargains. As long as you aren't losing money hand over fist, you should be okay. Financial ruin and administration is unlikely to be an issue unless you find yourself in massive debt.
  12. CFuller

    Commentary

    Commentary is often requested, but I can confidently say that it will not be included in FM any time soon. If you wanted to go so far as to have the players named verbally, that would require the commentators to record hundreds of thousands of names from the database. That's just not viable. (Then there are the issues of recording club names, and recording commentaries for multiple languages. Again, not viable.) Even having basic English commentary (without names) would be nigh-on pointless if the same lines were repeated over and over again.
  13. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    22 AUGUST 2001 There's only one match today, but it's a big one. Well, it's 'big' in the context of the Oceania Football Confederation, who will soon find out who will represent them at the World Cup... Intercontinental Playoffs. Last week saw the opening leg of the Final round between Australia and New Zealand. It was the Kiwis who won 1-0 in Sydney, so they have returned home to Wellington with a slight advantage. Australia have it all to do if they're to save their didgeridoos. Not only do the Socceroos have to narrow a deficit away from home against a team who boast more real players in their squad, they'll also have to face the dreaded 'haka' before kick-off. If you thought Jonah Lomu and Tana Umaga were intimidating, just wait until you've seen Archie Thompson and Rory Fallon do their own Maori dance... OFC Final Leg 2 Result New Zealand - 0 Australia - 0 [New Zealand win 1-0 on aggregate] Strewth! Australia's soccer fans will have to put the Foster's on ice, because they won't be ending their 28-year World Cup hiatus any time soon. The Socceroos were as poor up front in Wellington as they had been on home soil. Joel Griffiths was particularly awful, though things could have turned out differently had New Zealand keeper Michael Utting not pushed his 5th-minute header over the bar. The Kiwis - captained brilliantly by New England defender Ivan Vicelich - stayed strong throughout, even after teen striker Rory Fallon was sent off in the 89th minute for shoving Aussie centre-half David Cervinski. Fallon will now be suspended from the first leg of December's Intercontinental Playoff against TBC. 1 SEPTEMBER 2001 Every England fan aged 25 or over will surely know the significance of today's date. It was on this night at the Olympiastadion in München when Sven-Göran Eriksson led the Three Lions to a historic 5-1 away victory over Germany, in which Michael Owen scored a hat-trick. That result was arguably the most significant in England's late surge towards topping Group 9 and qualifying automatically for the 2002 World Cup. The situation is oh-so-slightly different this time. We're actually at the Olympia-Stadion in Berlin, Kevin Keegan is still the England manager, and Owen is back home in Liverpool nursing a knee ligament injury. Oh yes, and if the Three Lions lose, they could be eliminated. While a repeat of real-life would catapult the English back into contention for qualification, a defeat for them would crush their Far Eastern dreams were Finland to get at least a point in Albania. But there's one aspect of this Anglo-German rivalry that hasn't changed. Just a few weeks ago, Germany celebrated being awarded the hosting rights for the 2006 World Cup. I'm not bitter or anything... With almost all the groups being very tight at the top, I don't think anybody can secure their places at next year's finals alongside Group 8 winner Italy tonight. However, we might get a better idea of who'll be going through automatically and who'll probably have to settle for a Playoff place at best. Group 1's Big Four face one another again tonight. Leaders Yugoslavia are away to 4th-placed Switzerland, who could effectively be eliminated if they fail to take any points. The teams between them are Slovenia and Russia, who cross swords in Ljubljana. Portugal and the Netherlands are each a single win away from guaranteeing top-two finishes in Group 2. The Seleção are at home to Andorra, while the Oranje could leave the Republic of Ireland's Boys in Green feeling very blue if they prevail at Lansdowne Road. In Group 3, Denmark just need to get through Northern Ireland's revolving door of goalkeepers to secure a Playoff place. The Czech Republic will also have a top-two spot wrapped up if they overcome Iceland, and Bulgaria somehow fail to win in Malta. Slovakia could close the gap on Group 4 leaders Turkey with a surprise win over the Crescent-Stars. Both teams will also have an eye on the result concerning Sweden, who currently sit in 2nd place and face a tricky away outing in Macedonia. I'd need a lot of abacuses to work out all the permutations in a barmy Group 5, so I'll just move on to the crunch match at Hampden Park in Group 6. Scotland need a win to move back into top spot above Belgium, though they'll still have a match in hand on the Red Devils regardless. Croatia don't have such leeway, as only a victory in Glasgow will keep them in the running. In Group 7, Bosnia & Herzegovina only have an incredibly slim chance of securing top spot tonight with two games to spare. Their place at the finals will effectively be confirmed if they defeat Israel, and Spain suffer a surprise home reverse against Austria. If La Furia Roja don't trip up, they'll be at least in the Playoffs, as will the Zmajevi if they take maximum points. UEFA Group Stage Group 1 Results Faroe Islands - 2 (T Jónsson 7, K Mørkøre 20) Luxembourg - 0 The Faroe Islands have now taken six points from Luxembourg, moving their total up to... erm, six. FC København striker Todi Jónsson broke the deadlock seven minutes into the minnows' meeting in Torshavn. His fellow frontman Jákup á Borg had a less enjoyable time, coming off with a foot injury in the 15th minute. Despite that, the Faroes went 2-0 up five minutes later, as midfielder Kurt Mørkøre headed home from a Jónsson lob. While Luxembourg had chances to narrow the deficit later on, they weren't able to avoid an eighth straight defeat. Slovenia - 1 (U Barut 72) Russia - 3 (V Bestchastnykh 40,54,71) Did you know that Tina Turner has performed a song about Leicester's new Russian striker? "Duh, duh, duh, he's simply the Best!" Vladimir Bestchastnykh was indeed better than all the rest in Ljubljana, as he put Slovenia to the sword with a superb hat-trick. A couple of headers from the Foxes' recent Bosman signing was followed by a blistering shot that gave Russia a 3-0 away lead. Though Ajax's Uros Barut quickly pulled one goal back, the tie was already effectively over. That most certainly was the case when Slovenia defender Zeljko Milinovic strained his knee ligaments in the closing stages. Switzerland - 2 (C Sforza 84, D Sesa 86) Yugoslavia - 1 (S Milosevic 18) Russia are now top of Group 1, thanks to Yugoslavia's inexplicable late collapse at the Wankdorf stadium in Bern. The Blues led after 18 minutes through Savo Milosevic's low strike from Darko Kovacevic's long ball. Switzerland were already reeling from a very early injury to Bari centre-half Giuseppe Mazzarelli (who played two Premiership games for Man City a few years back). However, the Nati were determined to fight back. Ciriaco Sforza's blistering free-kick in the 84th minute was followed up soon afterwards by a dramatic winner from David Sesa, who rolled the Swiss back into contention. GROUP 1 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Russia 8 6 1 1 20 7 13 19 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Yugoslavia 8 5 1 2 15 6 9 16 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Slovenia 8 5 0 3 14 9 5 15 4. Switzerland 8 4 2 2 16 8 8 14 5. Faroe Islands 8 2 0 6 6 17 -11 6 6. Luxembourg 8 0 0 8 4 28 -24 0 Group 2 Results Andorra - 0 Portugal - 4 (N Gomes 4,17, J Pinto 20, Lixa 23) Portugal blitzed Andorra in the first half to move a step closer to the World Cup finals. Fiorentina forward Nuno Gomes got the Seleção up and running with two Hélder-assisted goals in the 4th and 17th minutes. Portugal then lost midfielder Paulo Sousa to a knee injury, but captain João Pinto strengthened their lead further on 20 minutes. The final Portuguese goal came from Guimarães' debutant left-winger Lixa after 23 minutes. Andorra were then shown a bit more mercy, and they even threatened to score in the 65th minute, when Francesc Reguera's drive was saved by Vítor Baía. Republic of Ireland - 0 Netherlands - 2 (P Kluivert 17, J Hansma 75) It's now a clear two-horse race at the top of Group 2. The Republic of Ireland's hopes of overtaking either the Netherlands or Portugal rested on them getting a result against the Dutch. However, Mick McCarthy's men were overpowered from the moment that Patrick Kluivert got the better of Shay Given in the 17th minute. Ireland defended deeper after that first goal, but they almost conceded again six minutes later, when Clarence Seedorf hit the bar. The Oranje would score again on 75 minutes, as Heerenveen stalwart Johan Hansma's first international goal left Irish eyes crying. GROUP 2 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Portugal 8 7 0 1 21 4 17 21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Netherlands 8 7 0 1 20 3 17 21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Republic of Ireland 9 5 0 4 12 7 5 15 4. Estonia 8 3 1 4 8 9 -1 10 5. Cyprus 8 1 2 5 4 15 -11 5 6. Andorra 9 0 1 8 2 29 -27 1 Group 3 Results Denmark - 2 (H Pedersen 11,82) Northern Ireland - 0 Stig Tøfting gave Northern Ireland such a relentless pummelling in Copenhagen that I'm surprised he wasn't arrested for assault at full-time. Hamburg's midfield destroyer set up Denmark's opening goal on 11 minutes, intercepting Neil Lennon's long ball before hoisting it into the visitors' area. Henrik Pedersen then flicked a lethal header over 17-year-old Stuart Kelly - the latest man to hop on Norn Ireland's goalkeeping merry-go-round. Tøfting set up another Pedersen goal in the 82nd minute, as the pair put in performances that would undoubtedly have caught Sam Allardyce's attention. On the other hand, I think NI could have done with a more experienced keeper than Kelly. What was wrong with Maik Taylor or Aidan Davison, or even Robert Smyth? Oh... right. Iceland - 0 Czech Republic - 1 (V Lokvenc 14) There'll be no Viking claps in the Far East next summer, as Iceland's slim qualification hopes melted away against the Czech Republic. The Czechs looked full of beans in the 14th minute, when Marek Heinz's centre was headed into the net by Kaiserslautern target man Vratislav Lokvenc. Things went rather less well for Iceland's attacking midfielder Heidar Helguson, as the Watford man twisted his knee late in the first half. Compatriot Arni Gautur Arason then saved several shots from Lokvenc and Heinz. That being said, the former's early goal was still enough to earn another victory for the visitors, whose winger Karel Poborsky was injured on 82 minutes. Malta - 0 Bulgaria - 1 (I Iliev 74) A few years ago, Bulgaria would have won this match much more emphatic. They look significantly less imposing without Hristo Stoichkov, although the great man's regen - 23-year-old Rayo striker Hristo Dimitrov - had an encouraging debut. He was one of six Bulgarians to have shots saved by Malta's appropriately-named debutant keeper Saviour Darmanin. The visiting Lions were 16 minutes away from elimination when attacking midfielder Ilian Iliev became their saviour, finally beating Darmanin after requiring a second attempt. However, one feels that his late winner might not be enough for Bulgaria. GROUP 3 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Denmark 8 7 0 1 19 3 16 21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Czech Republic 8 6 1 1 17 5 12 19 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Bulgaria 8 4 2 2 8 7 1 14 4. Iceland 8 3 0 5 6 9 -3 9 5. Northern Ireland 8 1 1 6 5 14 -9 4 6. Malta 8 1 0 7 4 21 -17 3 Group 4 Results Macedonia - 0 Sweden - 1 (J Pettersson 87) Sweden were surprisingly reluctant to take the game to Macedonia in the first half. When they did, though, their newly-capped Dortmund striker Kennedy Bakircioglü proved to be very wasteful. Though new Real Madrid defender Joachim Björklund brilliantly shut the Red Lynxes out at the other end, it looked like this would be another disappointing evening for Sweden. The turning point came when Bakircioglü was replaced by another Bundesliga striker - Kaiserslautern's Jörgen Pettersson, who duly stroked Jesper Blomqvist's left-wing cross into the net for an 87th-minute winner. Moldova - 4 (A Popovich 5, S Rogachev 13,35, S Epureanu 61) Azerbaijan - 2 (K Kurbanov 52, M Megamadov 58) I never thought I'd say this, but what a magnificent display of goalscoring from Moldova! Alexandr Popovich got them off to a flyer in the fifth minute by beating Azerbaijan's veteran keeper Alexandr Zhidkov. Sergey Rodachev doubled Moldova's lead in the 13th minute, and he would double his tally in the 35th. The Milli then threatened a second-half comeback, as goals from Kurban Kurbanov and Morad Megamadov pleased those fans who enjoy alliterative names. Burnley supporters were then delighted to see Sergiu Epureanu secure a 4-2 win for Moldova after 61 minutes. They were despairing seven minutes later, though, when Epureanu left the field with a pulled hamstring. Slovakia - 2 (M Majoros 50, M Fabus 90) Turkey - 2 (H Sükür 64, Ö Nesim 85) This match saw a goalless first half, which was also a painful one for Rastislav Michalik. The Slovakia midfielder sprained his ankle after 30 minutes, but his team-mates pushed on without him. PSV youngster Marcel Majoros broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half, only for Turkish icon Hakan Sükür to level midway through the latter period. The Crescent-Stars appeared to complete the comeback when midfielder Özgür Nesim put them 2-1 up with five minutes to go. However, a last-ditch equaliser from Slovakia's Martin Fabus was fabulous news for Sweden, who replaced Turkey at the top of Group 4! GROUP 4 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Sweden 8 5 2 1 12 2 10 17 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Turkey 8 5 2 1 13 7 6 17 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Slovakia 8 4 2 2 10 7 3 14 4. Moldova 8 3 1 4 10 12 -2 10 5. Macedonia 8 2 0 6 6 11 -5 6 6. Azerbaijan 8 1 1 6 6 18 -12 4 Group 5 Results Belarus - 0 Ukraine - 2 (A Golokolosov 65, A Spivak 77) Both teams put together some strong attacks in Minsk, but it was Belarus who ultimately fell short. The likes of Vasiliy Mazur and Yury Shukanov had a frustrating afternoon up front for the hosts, who were eliminated from the World Cup qualifiers after conceding twice in the second half. Ukraine's young Rayo striker Alexander Golokolosov celebrated breaking the world record for having the most O's in his surname by heading Alexandr Spivak's 65th-minute cross into the net. Zenith St Petersburg winger Spivak found the net himself 12 minutes later to keep the Zhovto-Blakytni top of Group 5. Poland - 0 Norway - 2 (D Eggen 17, JD Sørensen 56) Poland will have Eggen on their face after suffering what could be a fateful defeat. Despite having seven shots on target, the Biało-czerwoni were regularly thwarted by a series of saves from Norway goalkeeper Frode Olsen. They then conceded from each of their Viking rivals' two shots on target. Alavés centre-half Dan Eggen succeeded with the first of them in the 17th minute. When his defensive colleague Stig Inge Bjørnebye assisted winger Jan Derek Sørensen for the second goal on 56 minutes, Poland might have said goodbye to their hopes of making the World Cup. Wales - 1 (J Hartson 63) Armenia - 0 Wales boss Mark Hughes recently became a part-time scout at some non-league club called Nuneaton, managed by some bloke named Billy Holiday. Sparky's Red Dragons seemed to play like a Conference outfit for the first half-hour of this match. They missed countless opportunities against rock-bottom Armenia, but two of their classiest players eventually decided the game. Captain Ryan Giggs led by example when his 63rd-minute cross was headed in at the near post by John Hartson. That earned Wales the win, though they lost defender Paul Mardon to injury late on. GROUP 5 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Ukraine 8 5 1 2 13 6 7 16 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Wales 8 5 1 2 10 7 3 16 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Norway 8 5 0 3 9 8 1 13 4. Poland 8 3 2 3 10 9 1 11 5. Belarus 8 2 1 5 8 8 0 7 6. Armenia 8 0 3 5 3 15 -12 3 Group 6 Result Scotland - 3 (C Burley pen13, B Ferguson 70, D Hutchison 77) Croatia - 1 (D Suker 65) I guess we really do have to take Scotland very seriously now. The Tartan Army were rampant at Hampden Park against a Croatia side who conceded a penalty after just 13 minutes. Dalibor Viskovic's reckless lunge on David Hopkin was punished by a clinical Craig Burley spot-kick. Some diabolical shooting from 'Plastic Jock' Don Hutchison followed before Davor Suker drew the visitors level midway through the second half. Croatia's relief was short-lived, as Barry Ferguson quickly put the Scots 2-1 up before his corner was flicked home by 'Braveheart' Hutchison. The Vatreni might have finished 3rd at France '98, but this latest defeat means that we won't be seeing them at the 2002 World Cup. GROUP 6 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Scotland 6 5 1 0 14 3 11 16 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Belgium 6 4 2 0 15 3 12 14 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Latvia 7 3 1 3 10 7 3 10 4. Croatia 6 2 0 4 10 9 1 6 5. San Marino 7 0 0 7 1 28 -27 0 Group 7 Results Bosnia & Herzegovina - 2 (E Bolic 38, E Mujcin 84) Israel - 1 (E Berkovic 32) Even though qualification was no longer possible for them, Israel really upped their game against the Group 7 leaders. Eyal Berkovic glided through the Bosnian defence before firing in the opening goal on 32 minutes. Just six minutes later, however, their goalkeeper Shavit Eimelech was lobbed by the hosts' Rayo striker Elvir Bolic... erm, hang on, haven't Rayo got enough strikers? The Blue & Whites were dealt another blow shortly afterwards, as defender Alon Harazi was injured. Despite that, they held firm until the 84th minute, when midfielder Edin Mujcin secured Bosnia & Herzegovina's fifth win in six. Spain - 2 (Alfonso 37,71) Austria - 0 It was just as well that the Bosnians got the three points, because Spain don't look like ending their pursuit of top spot any time soon. A relentless attacking display accounted for Austria, who've now been eliminated from contention. Spain hotshot Alfonso broke the deadlock eight minutes from half-time, as he got the better of Alex Manninger, who'd recently been usurped as Arsenal's first-choice keeper by Edwin van der Sar. Manninger's mood would darken further when Alfonso volleyed in a sublime game-clinching second goal on 71 minutes. La Furia Roja mean business. GROUP 7 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Pl Bosnia & Herzegovina 6 5 1 0 11 3 8 16 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Pl Spain 7 5 1 1 15 3 12 16 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Austria 6 3 0 3 6 5 1 9 4. Israel 7 2 0 5 12 15 -3 6 5. Liechtenstein 6 0 0 6 1 19 -18 0 Group 8 Results Georgia - 2 (T Ketsbaia 20, G Kinkladze 90) Hungary - 0 Georgia took their sweet time to get a win on their record, but this was a decent performance against the not-so-magnificent Magyars. While Hungary's shooting often threatened the sponsor boards, Georgian legend Temuri Ketsbaia had his eyes set on destroying one after breaking through in the 20th minute. It seemed for a long time that the Wolves forward's strike would be the only one... but Georgi Kinkladze eventually got in on the act just before full-time. That was another big blow for a Hungarian side whose substitute forward Mihály Tóth sprained his ankle after 55 minutes. Lithuania - 0 Italy - 2 (C Vieri 3, F Totti 15) Italy aren't just satisfied with winning Group 8; they want to obliterate all their opponents! They certainly did that to Lithuania, wiping them out of qualification contention in 15 incredible minutes. Azzurri captain Demetrio Albertini's crossing was a constant threat to the hosts, and Christian Vieri scored from one excellent delivery just three minutes after kick-off. Francesco Totti then got his name on the scoresheet after leaving defender Tomas Zvirgsdauskas for dead. There was some late resistance from Lithuania keeper Marius Poskus, but Italy had already done what they'd set out to do. GROUP 8 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Italy 7 7 0 0 23 2 21 21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Romania 6 3 1 2 11 7 4 10 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Lithuania 7 2 0 5 6 15 -9 6 4. Hungary 6 2 0 4 4 14 -10 6 5. Georgia 6 1 1 4 4 10 -6 4 Group 9 Results Albania - 2 (A Rraklli 69,79) Finland - 2 (S Valakari 34, M Forssell 58) Finland's growing crop of English-based players put them in control of proceedings against Albania. Stockport's Kosovo-born forward Shefki Kuqi assisted Derby midfielder Simo Valakari for the first goal after 34 minutes. A second goal early in the second half from Chelsea prospect Mikael Forssell appeared to kill the game off. Then came an improbable fightback from Albania, who prior to kick-off hadn't even registered a goal, let alone a point. That all changed when Altin Rraklli - who plays for Unterhaching in the Bundesliga - claimed a late brace for the Kuq e Zinjtë. Germany - 3 (M Scholl 12, M Rehmer 33, O Bierhoff 35) England - 0 Baddiel & Skinner will have to rewrite their big hit single again after a tactical blunder from Kevin Keegan. The England boss gave Everton goalkeeper Richard Wright his second cap, but it was more a case of Richard Wrong. Germany's Mehmet Scholl schooled the Three Lions when he skipped past Sunderland left-back Michael Gray en route to opening the scoring after 12 minutes. Right-back Marko Rehmer and Oliver Bierhoff would also put the ball into Wright's net late in the first half, effectively ensuring that the Mannschaft went top of Group 9. Keegan replaced woeful Wright with Leeds' Nigel Martyn before half-time, but the game was already up. By my reckoning, England have now failed to qualify, which I doubt would've happened had the FA bothered to call Sven-Göran Eriksson last year... GROUP 9 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Germany 7 5 0 2 16 9 7 15 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Finland 6 4 1 1 13 6 7 13 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Greece 6 3 1 2 12 9 3 10 4. England 6 2 1 3 7 11 -4 7 5. Albania 7 0 1 6 2 15 -13 1
  14. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    15 AUGUST 2001 This summer has been a busy one in international football. Since we last met, we have seen not one but TWO major tournaments come and go. First up was the Copa America, which took place in the United States of America over July. In real life, the tournament was actually held in Colombia, and Argentina withdrew at short notice after receiving death threats from terrorist groups. There is no room for politics or security threats in this Championship Manager universe, so La Albiceleste had no qualms about travelling to the USA. Marcelo Bielsa even managed to take them all the way to the Final in Los Angeles, where they beat Uruguay 6-2! Perhaps the most interesting thing about that Final was that there were two hat-trick heroes in the Argentine team - Villarreal striker Martín Palermo, and Lazio's superstar midfielder Juan Sebastián Verón. And yes, that's the same Palermo who once missed three penalties in a single Copa America match in 1999. Only in CM could he banish his demons so emphatically! Incidentally, Brazil were knocked out by Argentina in the Quarter Finals. They soon dusted themselves down and headed off to South Korea to participate the Confederations Cup - the traditional World Cup warm-up event held a year before the global finals. Unlike in reality, Japan had nothing to do with the in-game Confed Cup. Strangely enough, the Final of this competition would throw together the same two teams who had duelled for the World Cup in 1998. However, there would be no Saint-Denis repeat in Seoul, as world champions France were beaten 2-1 by a Brazilian team hell-bent on revenge. Serginho and Giovanni each found the net for the Seleção, and though Nicolas Anelka nicked one goal back, Les Bleus could not draw level. Exactly a week after that encouraging triumph on East Asian soil, Brazil are now aiming to ensure that they will return next summer. If the leaders of the CONMEBOL qualifiers can beat rock-bottom Bolivia at the Maracanã this evening, and Peru fail to defeat Argentina, they will preserve their record of competing at every single World Cup finals. Doing it with four rounds to spare would not be a mean feat. Argentina can't automatically qualify tonight, but victory in Lima would leave the 3rd-placed Albiceleste on the brink. Similarly, 2nd-place Uruguay would be almost there if they can overcome Chile in Santiago. Colombia sit in 4th position ahead of their visit to Ecuador. Los Cafeteros are aiming to build a sizeable lead on their main rivals for that final automatic qualification berth - Paraguay (who are away to Venezuela) and Peru. Today also sees the start of the OFC's Final round. Australia and New Zealand each breezed through ludicrously easy groups at the start of the year, and the Antipodean rivals will now play each other home-and-away to decide who progresses to the Intercontinental Playoff. Today's first leg takes place in Sydney, with Wellington set to host next week's rematch. Australia's hopes of victory have been boosted by the retirement of New Zealand legend Wynton Rufer, who - at the grand age of 89 - has finally decided to concentrate on coaching Caersws. I'd still make the Kiwis marginal favourites, mind. Finally, there is one European match going on. I'm sure you're all dying to see who wins the Group 2 dead-rubber between Estonia and Cyprus, so let's not keep you waiting any longer, shall we? UEFA Group Stage Group 2 Result Estonia - 1 (K Haavistu 30) Cyprus - 0 This was a fairly even game, though the contrast between both teams when it came to their shooting was quite stark. Cyprus regularly struggled to hit the target, with their captain - Sporting striker Mihalis Konstantinou - looking particularly profligate. At the other end, it was a different story for Estonia's young midfielder Kert Haavistu. He tucked away Sergei Terehhov's left-wing centre in the 30th minute to score what proved to be the only goal. At full-time, there was little doubt that the man of the match award should be handed to... Konstantinou?! Erm, okay, I guess. GROUP 2 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Netherlands 7 6 0 1 18 3 15 18 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Portugal 7 6 0 1 17 4 13 18 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 3. Republic of Ireland 8 5 0 3 12 5 7 15 4. Estonia 8 3 1 4 8 9 -1 10 5. Cyprus 8 1 2 5 4 15 -11 5 6. Andorra 8 0 1 7 2 25 -23 1 OFC Final Leg 1 Result Australia - 0 New Zealand - 1 (M Burton 69) Here's why we don't normally see Australia at a World Cup where the ball isn't oval and willow bats are never used. Their marksmen could well have done with some advice from Steve Waugh, as Paul Agostino and Joel Griffiths both failed to trouble Michael Utting in the New Zealand goal. The All Whites defended comfortably for 69 minutes and then launched a devastating counter-attack. Vaughan Coveny's delivery was headed in by substitute Mark Burton, whose header gave New Zealand a potentially decisive away goal. Wynton Rufer might hung up his boots, but the Kiwis' future still looks bright. CONMEBOL Qualifiers Results Brazil - 4 (Amoroso 21,80, Edmundo 39,49) Bolivia - 0 This was some way for Brazil to effectively secure their spot in the World Cup. Bolivia were battered in Rio de Janeiro by the terrifying tandem of Amoroso and Edmundo. Seleção captain Cafú floated in a superb delivery for Parma striker Amoroso to fire in the opening goal after 21 minutes. Deportivo's new Bosman signing Edmundo then scored either side of the half-time break, piling on further pain for La Verde. He also found time to create a fourth Brazilian goal, as Amoroso met his flick-on with a powerful diving header 10 minutes from time. Was it ever in any doubt? Chile - 3 (HU Tapia 15, M Ramírez pen18, M Salas 50) Uruguay - 3 (Á Recoba 11,27, AN Olivera 38) The first half saw mixed fortunes for Uruguay's front three. Attacking midfielder Fabián O'Neill's game was ended early by a broken toe, which he presumably sustained from kicking Bishop Brennan up the backside. His colleague Andrés Nicolás Olivera then got on the scoresheet in the 38th minute, after striker Álvaro Recoba had netted twice. In between Recoba's goals were a couple of strikes from Chile. Perugia's Hector Urdile Tapia was on target after 15 minutes, and Miguel Ramírez then scored from a penalty that was won by Marcelo Salas. La Roja's captain would inevitably find the net himself five minutes into the second half, flicking César Elias Santis' delivery beyond Uruguay goalkeeper Fabián Carini. That would be the final goal of a 3-3 thriller. Ecuador - 0 Colombia - 2 (L Preciado 21,90) Ecuador's slim hopes of reaching the World Cup now look about as skinny as a supermodel on a crash diet of cauliflower. Colombia were always in cruise control in Guayaquil, with Racing Santander striker Leyder Preciado inspiring them to another potentially vital away win. Preciado's first goal was a header on 21 minutes, and he would find the net again shortly before the full-time whistle. Strike partner Juan Pablo Angel was rather less fortunate in front of goal, but despite some spirited defending from Ecuador's Alberto Montano, Los Cafeteros' grip on 4th place has only strengthened. Peru - 0 Argentina - 3 (M Palermo 11, JS Verón 39, MJ Almeyda pen77) Argentina's Copa America heroes were in the goals again as they made light work of Peru. Martín Palermo took just 11 minutes to break La Blanquirroja's defence. Then, six minutes before half-time, Juan Sebastián Verón banged in a howitzer from distance, leaving Miguel Miranda helpless in the Peruvian goal. Both those strikes were assisted by Parma midfielder Matías Jesus Almeyda, who would complete the scoring with a 77th-minute penalty following Alfonso Dulanto's foul on Albiceleste sub Claudio López. Argentina are now up to 2nd, while Peru have surrendered their Playoff place. Venezuela - 1 (Moisés 3) Paraguay - 2 (FJ Arce 45, MÁ Benítez 78) Paraguay now occupy 5th spot, though they were lucky to beat Venezuela. A mindless two-footed lunge on Pedro Santos saw Albirroja defender Pedro Sarabia sent off after just two minutes. Varzim forward Moisés sent Venezuela ahead a minute later, and La Vinotinto's lead in terms of personnel would increase further on 42 minutes. That was when Paraguay midfielder Roberto Miguel Acuña collected his second yellow card, earning his team a SECOND RED! However, Venezuela went down to 10 shortly afterwards, as Santos was sent off for a cynical foul on visiting substitute Gaetan Tomas Guzman. Francisco Javier Arce banged in the resultant free-kick to draw Paraguay level... and when Miguel Ángel Benítez struck in the 78th minute, the nine-man Albirroja had themselves an improbable win! P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Brazil 14 10 2 2 29 7 22 32 2. Argentina 14 9 1 4 27 13 14 28 3. Uruguay 14 7 6 1 23 11 12 27 4. Colombia 14 7 4 3 24 20 4 25 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 5. Paraguay 14 5 4 5 17 14 3 19 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 6. Peru 14 5 3 6 13 16 -3 18 7. Venezuela 14 4 3 7 8 21 -13 15 8. Chile 14 3 3 8 10 20 -10 12 9. Ecuador 14 3 1 10 7 20 -13 10 10. Bolivia 14 2 3 9 8 24 -16 9 Qualified Nations for World Cup (10 confirmed) France (holders), South Korea (co-hosts), Japan (co-hosts), Italy, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco, Brazil
  15. CFuller

    Heart of Asia: Going Back to the 2002 World Cup

    18 JULY 2001 "The cream always rises to the top." That saying has never been more apt than in the CAF qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup. The same five African nations who took part at the 1998 finals are set to qualify again. As baseball legend Yogi Berra would say, "It's déjà vu all over again". Nigeria and Cameroon are already guaranteed to be present in the Far East next summer, so they can take things easy in tonight's final batch of group matches. Tunisia, South Africa and Morocco still have work to do, but they'd need to suffer inconceivable defeats to let other nations in. South Africa's advantage over Angola in Group 3 is so huge that they need only turn up in Rwanda to qualify. Bafana Bafana could even lose by six goals and still go through... as long as Angola haven't beaten Gabon by another six. Morocco have won six of their seven matches in Group 4 thus far, and they only need to avoid defeat against São Tomé & Príncipe to book their tickets to South Korea and Japan. Were the improbable to happen, though, the Ivory Coast's Elephants could yet trample over the Atlas Lions with a huge win in Mozambique. For fans of high-quality drama where the outcome isn't clear until the very end, that all looks about as appealing as EastEnders. However, the battle between Tunisia and Ghana to win Group 2 genuinely could go all the way. Tunisia lead the way by three points, though their goal difference is worse than Ghana's. The Eagles of Carthage also finish up away from home, against a Liberia team who are about as predictable as... well, certainly not EastEnders, that's for sure. A draw would be enough for Tunisia to go into the finals. A Liberia win, on the other hand, would open the door for Ghana to qualify at their expense by defeating 4th-placed Benin. The Black Stars have given us some incredible players in the past - Abedi Pele, Tony Yeboah, Nii Lamptey - but this would be the first time they have ever qualified for a World Cup. CAF Round 2 Group 1 Results Egypt - 0 Democratic Republic of Congo - 0 A promising campaign for both these nations ended with a rather damp squib of a 0-0 draw. Egypt were perhaps the most disappointed team at the final whistle, having had several opportunities to break the deadlock. Teenage striker Mohamed El Yamani and midfielder Hady Kashaba looked most likely to strike, but they were thwarted by some fine goal keeping from Joseph Kimoto. At the other end, the Leopards had little to shout about. Their only shot on target was Loki Boto-Nyengo's 14th-minute header, which didn't cause Nader any problems in the Pharaohs' goal. Namibia - 0 Nigeria - 3 (JJ Okocha 26, J Akpoborie 39,85) Nigeria were already through to the World Cup finals, but they finished the qualifying phase with a seventh successive win. Roda winger Garba Lawal was instrumental again, creating a host of scoring opportunities against a demoralised Namibia team. He helped set up the first goal for Jay Jay Okocha in the 26th minute, and then supplied Jonathan Akpoborie with a cross that he half-volleyed home in the 39th. Wolfsburg's speed demon Akpoborie would surge through the Namibian defence to score another goal late in the second half, thus clinching another emphatic victory for the Super Eagles. GROUP 1 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Nigeria 8 7 0 1 17 2 15 21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Egypt 8 4 2 2 9 7 2 14 3. DR Congo 8 4 2 2 7 5 2 14 4. Namibia 8 0 4 4 2 11 -9 4 5. Sudan 8 0 2 6 4 14 -10 2 Group 2 Results Ghana - 4 (G Asamoah 13,45,55, I Tanko 53) Benin - 0 With qualification up for grabs, Ghana really could not have done much more than they did here. Benin's Squirrels were bombarded with shot after shot. Schalke 04's Gerald Asamoah was particularly relentless, and he would find the net with a couple of attempts in the first half. Strike partner Ibrahim Tanko continued the visitors' misery in the 53rd minute, two minutes before Asamoah put the seal on his hat-trick. Had the Black Stars' 4-0 demolition been enough to get them into the World Cup, or would they have to wait at least another four years for their debut? Liberia - 0 Tunisia - 1 (M Ben Slimane 72) Ghana were relying on Liberia to record a shock win over group leaders Tunisia. For a while, that didn't look like an unlikely outcome. One of the Lone Stars' best chances to go ahead was fired over the bar by Joseph Squires in the 50th minute. Substitutes Damiano Harley and Edward Dixon then had shots stopped by Tunisia goalkeeper Ali Boumnijel, before Ghanaian hearts were broken in the 72nd minute. One goal from Mehdi Ben Slimane proved to be decisive for the Eagles of Carthage, who flew into the World Cup finals for the second time in a row. GROUP 2 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Tunisia 8 7 0 1 17 3 14 21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Ghana 8 6 0 2 23 4 19 18 3. Liberia 8 3 2 3 6 9 -3 11 4. Benin 8 1 1 6 6 18 -12 4 5. Kenya 8 1 1 6 5 23 -18 4 Group 3 Results Angola - 4 (Ernesto 25, D Londo og40, Zé Tó 75, G Bandeirinha pen90) Gabon - 1 (A Poulat 43) Angola needed a big win, and they duly got one. Boavista youngster Ernesto broke the deadlock against Gabon after 25 minutes, and an own goal from Dieudonné Londo a quarter-hour later doubled the Palancas Negras' advantage. Armindo Poulat grabbed one goal back on Gabon's behalf before the break, but then it all went pear-shaped for the Panthers. Zé Tó's strike in the 75th minute effectively put the game beyond Gabon's reach. The visitors would even have to finish the match with just nine men, as midfielder Djil Denoyers was injured in the 89th minute, shortly before goalkeeper Moussa Douimi was sent off for a professional foul on Ernesto. The subsequent penalty was despatched by Grégorio Bandierinha, who wrapped up a 4-1 win for Angola. Rwanda - 0 South Africa - 2 (G Salmon 69, B McCarthy 76) Any fears from South African fans that their team would fall to pieces against Rwanda proved to be completely unfounded. Much to Angola's disappointment, Bafana Bafana were in no mood to throw away top spot. Rwanda wouldn't even manage to test Hans Vonk's goal once before a couple of second-half strikes secured South Africa's place at next year's finals. Glenn Salmon got the first in the 69th minute, rising above defender Iranus Aliadiere to flick Sibusiso Zuma's cross in. Zuma was also the architect of the second goal seven minutes later, with Bennedict McCarthy the beneficiary. GROUP 3 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q South Africa 8 7 0 1 25 6 19 21 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Angola 8 6 0 2 15 7 8 18 4. Gabon 8 3 1 4 8 15 -7 10 3. Rwanda 8 2 1 5 2 13 -11 7 5. Ethiopia 8 1 0 7 3 12 -9 3 Group 4 Results Morocco - 5 (R Rokki 15,37, M Hadji 33, S Bassir 61,83) São Tomé & Príncipe - 0 Casablanca was a fitting setting for Morocco's coronation as the kings of Group 4. Rachid Rokki displayed clinical finishing in the first half, scoring from each of his shots in the 15th and 37th minutes. Mustapha Hadji found the net himself on 33 minutes with a header from Yassine Abdellaoui's left-wing delivery. Right-back Abdellah Saber then had a penalty saved by São Tomé & Príncipe keeper Vítor Manuel Manarte in the 54th minute, after Adolfo Bargiela had barged into Rokki. Another Atlas Lion showed more of a killer instinct later in the second half, as Atlético Madrid's new £6.5million striker Salaheddine Bassir emulated Rokki's double. With that, Morocco's World Cup place was secured. Mozambique - 1 (Mano Mano 32) Ivory Coast - 2 (D Angan 19, C Dago 43) Unaware that Morocco were putting qualification beyond their reach, the Ivory Coast battled to what proved to be an academic victory in Maputo. A very nice header from Nice defender Didier Angan got them off the mark after 19 minutes. Mozambique would draw level in the 32nd minute, as Mano Mano pounced on a poor free-kick from Ivorian keeper Alain Gouaméné before beating the Toulouse veteran. Les Éléphants regained their lead through striker Charles Dago in the 43rd minute, but they couldn't build on it. Whether they had won 2-1 or 20-1, though, it wouldn't have made any difference. GROUP 4 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Morocco 8 7 1 0 29 1 28 22 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Ivory Coast 8 6 1 1 20 6 14 19 3. São Tomé & Príncipe 8 2 2 4 6 18 -12 8 4. Gambia 8 1 1 6 5 17 -12 4 5. Mozambique 8 1 1 6 4 22 -18 4 Group 5 Results Chad - 0 Cameroon - 3 (S Eto'o 42,61,68) He got five goals against Mali a few days ago, and now Samuel Eto'o has helped himself to another three! This Indomitable Lion's roar scared the living daylights out of Chad, who would finish the evening bottom of the table. Eto'o's first goal was assisted by Arsenal right-winger Lauren in the 42nd minute. Left-winger Serge Branco and future Man City defender Lucien Mettomo also assisted Eto'o in the second half as the 20-year-old hotshot secured his hat-trick. After the match, the Cameroonian FA celebrated another successful qualifying campaign... by sacking Jean Manga Onguene as manager. Being Cameroon, I suspect that might have something to do with money. Zimbabwe - 0 Togo - 0 Zimbabwe were hanging up the rear at kick-off, even though their goal difference was exactly zero. While the latter fact was still true at full-time, a scrappy draw with Togo had taken them to the giddy heights of 4th place. While Tauya Mrewa was wasteful in front of goal, some strong defending from left-back Gilbert Mushangazhike helped to shut out the similarly profligate visitors. Togo would finish their campaign in an impressive 3rd position, but this match ended in agony for grey striker Barket Di Meco, who pulled up hurt in the final minute. GROUP 5 P W D L F A GD PTS 1. Q Cameroon 8 6 1 1 23 5 18 19 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2. Mali 8 3 2 3 5 11 -6 11 3. Togo 8 2 3 3 3 9 -6 9 4. Zimbabwe 8 2 2 4 7 7 0 8 5. Chad 8 2 2 4 3 9 -6 8 Qualified Nations for World Cup (9 confirmed) France (holders), South Korea (co-hosts), Japan (co-hosts), Italy, Nigeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco
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