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Jeux Sans Frontières

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"The FIFA World Cup has been tarnished by scandal. It is time to start again from a clean page and move forward."

 

It was the announcement that rocked international football to its very core. On his first day as President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, Gio Bambini brought a sudden end to the 85-year history of its marquee competition.

 

A sporting competition that had rivalled even the Olympic Games for global interest was no more. A competition that had delivered such iconic moments as the emergence of a 17-year-old Pelé in 1958, Marco Tardelli’s screaming celebration in 1982, Diego Maradona’s ‘Goal of the Century’ in 1986, and Zinedine Zidane’s meltdown in 2006, had been consigned to the history books.

 

Bambini's decision to cancel the World Cup had come in the middle of a corruption scandal that had engulfed world football's governing body.

 

The 65th FIFA Congress was about to start at FIFA's headquarters in the Swiss city of Zurich when, on the morning of 27 May 2015, seven officials were arrested on corruption charges. Among those indicted were FIFA Vice-President Jeffrey Webb - the President of CONCACAF, which presides over football in North and Central America and the Caribbean.

 

The arrests were made by authorities from the United States of America following a three-year investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) into alleged bribery and money-laundering among leading football executives.

 

US attorney general Loretta Lynch said at a press conference in New York following the arrests, "They were expected to uphold the rules that keep soccer honest. Instead they corrupted the business of worldwide soccer to serve their interests and enrich themselves.

 

"They did this over and over, year after year, tournament after tournament."

 

Richard Webb - an investigator for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - revealed, "To date, more than $151million has been identified. We exposed complex money laundering schemes and discovered tens of millions of dollars hidden away in off-shore accounts."

 

He then delivered a rather cringeworthy soundbite that still resonated with millions of football fans from across the world. "This is the World Cup of fraud," he stated, "And today, we are issuing FIFA a red card."

 

It had long been suspected that bribery and corruption was rife within FIFA, certainly when it came to awarding the rights to host major tournaments such as the World Cup. The decision made five years earlier to award Qatar - a tiny Middle Eastern nation with hardly any footballing pedigree - the 2022 World Cup only intensified global pressure on the governing body.

 

This scandal went right to the very top of FIFA. Although he was not among those arrested, Sepp Blatter - FIFA's President for the past 17 years - was suspected to be involved in some capacity.

 

Two days later, he contested what would be his fifth FIFA Presidential election, following victories in 1998, 2002, 2007, and - most controversially - in 2011. Despite widespread calls for the election to be postponed in the wake of the arrests, the election went ahead as scheduled.

 

Blatter’s main opponent was Prince Ali bin Hussein - the half-brother of Jordan's King Abdullah II, and the President of the Jordan Football Association. At 39 years old, Prince Ali was seen as a young and progressive candidate by many other leading football administrators.

 

Blatter's only other rival was a last-minute entry who very few suspected had a chance of getting past the first round of the vote, let alone becoming President.

 

Giovanni Bambini was born in 1972 in Termen - a small southern Swiss municipality situated just a 15-minute drive away from Blatter's hometown of Visp - to Italian parents. He became known as ‘Gio’ - a shortened form of his given name - in childhood, and would carry that name on into his adult life.

 

Bambini studied law at the University of Geneva and went on to become a successful lawyer in Switzerland before joining the legal department of UEFA - European football's governing body - in 2004. He quickly rose up the ranks at UEFA, becoming Deputy General Secretary in 2007, and then General Secretary in October 2009.

 

When the FIFA presidency was disputed six years later, it was widely assumed that UEFA’s main contender would be its own President, Michel Platini. However, when the French midfield legend pulled out of the running for personal reasons, Bambini - Platini’s number two - decided to step out of the shadows and enter the fray with his own agenda.

 

Easily distinguishable by his bald head and baby-faced looks, the rather appropriately-named Bambini was viewed as another likeable alternative to Blatter, though not - on the face of it - as radical a reformer as Prince Ali.

 

His big idea was to expand the World Cup to incorporate more nations from outside international football’s traditional strongholds of Europe and South America. Many suspected that he would increase the number of teams that qualified for the competition from 32 to 40. As it turned out, his plans would stretch much further than that.

 

The first round of voting took a couple of hours to complete, and the results provided the first real turn-up for the books. Blatter was the clear leader with 98 votes - just short of the 104 votes that would've made him the outright winner. However, Bambini had 56 votes (mostly from UEFA), and Prince Ali was a very close third with 52.

 

Prince Ali was eliminated from the second round of voting, but he quietly urged his supporters to switch their support to Bambini. The heads of the Football Association and the United States Soccer Federation were particularly vocal lobbyists as they looked to rally the anti-Blatter brigade around a single candidate.

 

That swell of support would tell when it came to the next round of the election. After another couple of hours, the results were in. Sepp Blatter had 101 votes. Gio Bambini had 105.

 

At just 43 years of age, Gio Bambini had been elected as the ninth President of FIFA. He would be the youngest man to govern world football since FIFA’s founding President - Robert Guérin, who was elected in 1904 at the age of 28.

 

This defeat was really humiliating for Blatter. After four election victories - some of which, admittedly, were uncontested - he had been voted out of office. He could only look on in disgust as his smiling younger compatriot Bambini took to the stage as the new head of world football.

 

After delivering gushing praise to his predecessor, Bambini told the delegates, "This is the beginning of a brand new journey for FIFA. I want to work with all of you to restore the world’s faith in FIFA, and also to build a new FIFA, in which we can put football in the centre of the stage."

 

"I have travelled across the globe over the last few years, and I will continue to do so in the name of our shared passion. I want to be a President for all football lovers, from those who live in the wealthiest countries to those who live in the poorest."

 

However, the main story was only just beginning. The new President continued, "It will be my mission to make football a truly global game. I want our biggest competition to be a level playing field for all of our member associations - a tournament for the many, not for the elite few.

 

"Therefore, I am announcing that, tomorrow morning, I will put forward before the Executive Committee proposals to cancel the FIFA World Cup, as well as all other international competitions, and replace them with a new, annual world championship. This is a party to which all of our member associations are invited.

 

"I am aware that many of you in this room, and millions of people across the world, will be very upset that the FIFA World Cup as we know it is over. I can promise you, however, that this new world championship will be bigger, better, and will have more excitement and drama than ever.

 

"The FIFA World Cup has been tarnished by scandal. It is time to start again from a clean page and move forward."

Edited by CFuller

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The Euros are just about to begin, so what better way to celebrate than with a new international FM16 story from yours truly?

So... Jeux Sans Frontières? A few of you, certainly those of you who are much older than my 26 years, might remember a TV game show by that name. (Fellow Britons almost certainly won't forget the BBC's version - It's A Knockout!) When I pondered over what to call this story, I took my inspiration from that show, and also the Peter Gabriel hit
"Games Without Frontiers", which was named after the English translation for Jeux Sans Frontières.

This story will focus on a fantasy FIFA World Championship knockout competition featuring no fewer than 216 national teams. I created the competition myself in the editor and have uploaded it onto Steam Workshop. This file has become extremely popular since its release about a fortnight ago; as of today, it has over 800 current subscribers.

You can probably tell that Gio Bambini is a rather similar character to a certain current FIFA President. It will become clear later in the story why I have chosen to create a new character based loosely on Gianni Infantino, rather than a fictionalised Gianni Infantino.

Bambini aside, the vast majority of characters in 'JSF' will be based on real people. The exceptions are some greyed-out players from the more obscure nations, and a few shady figures who you'll meet in the latter part of the story.

I have set up a pretty large database for this game. The top leagues from 40 different nations are loaded, while England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain all have their second divisions loaded as well. In addition, all current international players have been loaded. All in all, there are over 125,000 players in the save game, though as this will only be a season-long story, and I've got a pretty powerful PC, I won't have any problems with running the game.

I'm aiming to publish updates at least once if not twice a day over the next month (or possibly two). This is probably my most ambitious story yet, and even I don't know exactly how long it'll run for!

Anyway, that's enough from me. I hope you enjoy this fictionalised football tale almost as much as the real-life drama that's about to unfold! :D

Christopher Fuller (CFuller)
10 June 2016

Edited by CFuller

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The Shake-Up

Quote

 

The Sun - 30 May 2015

IT’S A KNOCKOUT!

Bambini KO’s Sepp AND World Cup in double whammy

FIFA dictator Sepp Blatter was sensationally ousted from power yesterday - before his successor pledged to CANCEL the World Cup!

 

Former UEFA general secretary Gio Bambini defeated Blatter by 105 votes to 101 in the second round of voting at the presidential election at FIFA HQ in Zurich.

 

Bambini, 43, then announced that he would scrap ALL international tournaments, including the corruption-ridden World Cup, in favour of a new annual knockout competition.

 

Bambini’s barmy proposals were slammed by ex-England boss and SunSport columnist Terry Venables, who claimed, "You can’t cancel the World Cup! It’s like telling the Queen that she can’t have the Royal Variety Show anymore!

 

"The World Cup is the one tournament that every football fan across the world looks forward to every four years. It just won’t feel the same if you replace it with something like the FA Cup and stage it every year."

 

FIFA’s executive committee is expected to make a final decision next week on whether to give the go-ahead to what would be the biggest shake-up in international football history.

 

 

As football fans the world over woke up to the realisation that the international game was about to receive its biggest shake-up yet, Gio Bambini officially took office and began his first full day as FIFA President.

 

Bambini's first act in the post was to make his proposed reforms - let's not forget, they were mere proposals rather than set in stone - a reality. He put before FIFA's Executive Committee a new 100-page dossier, detailing his plans for this new world championship and his reasoning behind its introduction.

 

All 25 executives were given a copy of the dossier, which they would be allowed to study for a week before voting on the plans. D-Day, as far as Bambini was concerned, would come on 5 June.

 

The centrepiece of this potential overhaul was to be a massive knockout competition, featuring all of FIFA's 209 existing members plus some invitees. Much like with many knockout cups in domestic and continental football, such as the FA Cup or the Copa del Rey, teams would enter the event at a particular stage according to their competitive status - in this case, their FIFA World Ranking.

 

The first phase of the competition - the 'qualifying phase', if you will - would see the entrants go through six rounds of two-legged home-and-away ties, starting with the Preliminary Round. The lowest-ranked teams would start there, with the winners advancing to Round 1, where they'd be drawn against any of the next lowest-ranked teams. The tournament would then continue in that manner through Round 2, Round 3, and Round 4, until it got to Round 5. At that stage, the 32 survivors would be paired with the 32 highest-ranked teams, who would finally enter the tournament in its last qualifying round.

 

FIFA would need to find enough time in the calendar to schedule all six of those qualifying rounds. The FIFA International Match Calendar already catered for four dates - in early September, early October, early November, and late March - when these qualifiers could take place, but there were still two dates unaccounted for.

 

Bambini's plans would see two more dates added to the calendar to accomodate the extra rounds. Early August would see the smallest nations battle it out in the Preliminary Round, while early to mid-January - previously reserved for the Africa Cup of Nations in odd-numbered years, and the AFC Asian Cup in alternating odd-numbered years - would allow time for Round 4 to take place.

 

The second phase of the competition - the 'finals phase' - would take place in June and early July, when the FIFA World Cup, Copa América and the European Championship used to be played. The 32 victors from Round 5 would go through to the finals, where a new tournament bracket - as used in tennis Grand Slam events and most major American sports - would start to take shape.

 

The 16 highest-ranked survivors would be seeded to avoid each other in Round 6, with the top two seeds kept on opposite sides of the draw, so that they couldn't meet until the Final. The 'seeds' would then each be drawn against one 'unseeded' lower-ranked team for Round 6. If results went as per the seedings, the 1st seed would meet the 16th seed in the next round, 2nd would meet 15th, and so forth.

 

Round 6, Round 7 and the Quarter Finals would all take place over two home-and-away legs across three-and-a-half weeks. The four Quarter Final winners would then travel to a predetermined host venue to play out the Semi Finals and the Final, which all would take place over a single leg.

 

As Bambini put it on the final page of his dossier, it would be a "feast of football".

 

As expected, there was strong scepticism over the proposals from within the committee. Vitaly Mutko - Russia's Sports Minister, and the head of the Russian Football Union - was furious that his country's first World Cup would be called off three years before it was due to take place. He would vote against the shake-up and demand significant compensation for Russia if it went ahead.

 

Qatar - hosts of the 2022 World Cup - did not have an Executive Committee member, but their concerns were represented by Bahrain's Sheikh Salman bin Ibrahim al-Khalifa. He too was firmly for the exisiting international football structure remaining in place.

 

The most senior of the seven Vice-Presidents - African football chief Issa Hayatou - would also vote against his new President's wishes. He expressed his concerns that a knockout world championship would badly hamper the chances that African and Asian teams had of breaking the century-old dominance of traditional football powerhouses from Europe and the Americas.

 

Michel D'Hooghe - the Belgian representative on the committee - claimed that an annual world championship would only dilute the importance of international football's biggest competition.

 

"The reason why the FIFA World Cup was so special," he said, "was that it only came every four years. We could all look forward to it and get excited about it, and we can also play our continental championships in between. That is how it has been for decades, and nobody has complained before Bambini.

 

"Having a new World Cup, or a World Championship, every year is like having the Olympics in London this year, in Rio de Janeiro next year, and in Tokyo the year after. Everybody would get bored with the Olympics being on year after year, and that would be the same with the football World Cup."

 

Other members were more welcoming of a new, rebooted world championship.

 

American Sunil Gulati and Australian Moya Dodd were both in favour of reform. They had each felt a sense of anger over the original bidding process for the 2022 World Cup, which saw Qatar controversially emerge victorious at their own associations’ expense.

 

"It's a great, forward-thinking idea, and I can buy into it," Gulati said. "More countries will get to experience the joy and excitement, and also reap the financial benefits, of hosting a world soccer championship. That can only be good for the vast majority of FIFA's members moving forward."

 

In a similar vein, Dodd stated, "I can see the potential benefits from a financial standpoint. You won't have one country carrying the financial burden of hosting a long World Cup like you used to.

 

"If there’s one thing I would change about the proposals, it would be to have a world championship every two years and continental championships in the intervening years. I would then seriously consider adopting the same proposals for women’s football, so that - for example - there’s a men’s world championship in even-numbered years and a women’s world championship in odd-numbered years."

 

Also supporting the proposals were David Gill of England, Ángel María Villar of Spain, and - most surprisingly to many - FIFA's General Secretary, Jérôme Valcke.

 

"It is time to start a new age of international football," Valcke declared. "For many years, members have kept to their own confederations and not played against members from other confederations apart from in the World Cup or the Confederations Cup.

 

"A new World Championship will allow for a truly global game, where nations can build bridges between one another in the name of football."

 

Like the presidential election, the vote on Bambini's reforms were very close. 13 voted for, seven against, and the remainder abstained.

 

The new FIFA World Championship had officially been given the green light.

Edited by CFuller

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The 2016 FIFA World Championship format, simplified

PHASE 1: Qualifying Phase

PRELIMINARY ROUND

Dates: First Leg - 7-8 August 2015, Second Leg - 11-12 August 2015.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 7 substitutes and use 3.

48 Teams (All New Entries): Teams ranked 169th and below enter competition

Teams ranked 169th-192nd seeded to play Second Leg at home

Teams ranked 193rd and below to play First Leg at home

 

ROUND 1

Dates: First Leg - 4-5 September 2015, Second Leg - 8-9 September 2015.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 7 substitutes and use 3.

64 Teams (40 New Entries): Teams ranked 129th-160th enter competition and seeded to play Second Leg at home

Teams ranked 161st-168th enter competition and will play First Leg at home

Preliminary Round winners to play First Leg at home

 

ROUND 2

Dates: First Leg - 9-10 October 2015, Second Leg - 13-14 October 2015.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 7 substitutes and use 3.

64 Teams (32 New Entries): Teams ranked 97th-128th enter competition and seeded to play Second Leg at home

Round 1 winners to play First Leg at home

 

ROUND 3

Dates: First Leg - 13-14 November 2015, Second Leg - 17-18 November 2015.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 12 substitutes and use 3.

64 Teams (32 New Entries): Teams ranked 65th-96th enter competition and seeded to play Second Leg at home

Round 2 winners to play First Leg at home

 

ROUND 4

Dates: First Leg - 8-9 January 2016, Second Leg - 12-13 January 2016.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 12 substitutes and use 3.

64 Teams (32 New Entries): Teams ranked 33rd-64th enter competition and seeded to play Second Leg at home

Round 3 winners to play First Leg at home

 

ROUND 5

Dates: First Leg - 25-26 March 2016, Second Leg - 29-30 March 2016.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 12 substitutes and use 3.

64 Teams (32 New Entries): Teams ranked 1st-32nd enter competition and seeded to play Second Leg at home

Round 4 winners to play First Leg at home

 

PHASE 2: Finals Phase

Round 6 onwards follows this bracket:

|------------|------------|------------|------------|------------|
|  ROUND 6   |  ROUND 7   |  QUARTERS  |   SEMIS    |   FINAL    |
|------------|------------|------------|------------|------------|
¦  [random]  ¦     A      
¦     vs     ¦------------¦
¦  #11 SEED  ¦  WINNER 11 ¦
-------------¦     vs     ¦
¦  [random]  ¦  WINNER 6  ¦    QF1     
¦     vs     ¦------------¦------------¦
¦  #6 SEED   ¦            ¦  WINNER A  ¦
-------------¦            ¦     vs     ¦
¦  [random]  ¦     B      ¦  WINNER B  ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦------------¦
¦  #14 SEED  ¦  WINNER 14 ¦            ¦
-------------¦     vs     ¦            ¦
¦  [random]  ¦  WINNER 3  ¦            ¦    SF1     
¦     vs     ¦------------¦            ¦------------¦
¦  #3 SEED   ¦                         ¦ WINNER QF1 ¦
-------------¦                         ¦     vs     ¦
¦  [random]  ¦     C                   ¦ WINNER QF2 ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦            ¦------------¦
¦  #10 SEED  ¦  WINNER 10 ¦            ¦            ¦
-------------¦     vs     ¦            ¦            ¦
¦  [random]  ¦  WINNER 7  ¦    QF2     ¦            ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦------------¦            ¦
¦  #7 SEED   ¦            ¦  WINNER C  ¦            ¦
-------------¦            ¦     vs     ¦            ¦
¦  [random]  ¦     D      ¦  WINNER D  ¦            ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦------------¦            ¦
¦  #15 SEED  ¦  WINNER 15 ¦                         ¦
-------------¦     vs     ¦                         ¦
¦  [random]  ¦  WINNER 2  ¦                         ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦                         ¦------------¦
¦  #2 SEED   ¦                                      ¦ WINNER SF1 ¦
-------------¦                                      ¦     vs     ¦
¦  [random]  ¦     E                                ¦ WINNER SF2 ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦                         ¦------------¦
¦  #12 SEED  ¦  WINNER 12 ¦                         ¦
-------------¦     vs     ¦                         ¦
¦  [random]  ¦  WINNER 5  ¦    QF3                  ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦------------¦            ¦
¦  #5 SEED   ¦            ¦  WINNER E  ¦            ¦
-------------¦            ¦     vs     ¦            ¦
¦  [random]  ¦     F      ¦  WINNER F  ¦            ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦------------¦            ¦
¦  #13 SEED  ¦  WINNER 13 ¦            ¦            ¦
-------------¦     vs     ¦            ¦            ¦
¦  [random]  ¦  WINNER 4  ¦            ¦    SF2     ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦            ¦------------¦
¦  #4 SEED   ¦                         ¦ WINNER QF3 ¦
-------------¦                         ¦     vs     ¦
¦  [random]  ¦     G                   ¦ WINNER QF4 ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦            ¦------------¦
¦  #9 SEED   ¦  WINNER 9  ¦            ¦
-------------¦     vs     ¦            ¦
¦  [random]  ¦  WINNER 8  ¦    QF4     ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦------------¦
¦  #8 SEED   ¦            ¦  WINNER G  ¦
-------------¦            ¦     vs     ¦
¦  [random]  ¦     H      ¦  WINNER H  ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦------------¦
¦  #16 SEED  ¦  WINNER 16 ¦
-------------¦     vs     ¦
¦  [random]  ¦  WINNER 1  ¦
¦     vs     ¦------------¦
¦  #1 SEED   ¦
-------------¦

 

ROUND 6

Dates: First Leg - 4-7 June 2016, Second Leg - 8-11 June 2016.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 12 substitutes and use 3.

32 Teams: Round 5 winners enter tournament bracket

16 highest-ranked teams seeded 1 to 16 according to FIFA World Ranking as of April 2016

Each seeded team drawn against one unseeded team

Seeded team to play Second Leg at home

 

ROUND 7

Dates: First Leg - 12-15 June 2016, Second Leg - 16-19 June 2016.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 12 substitutes and use 3.

16 Teams: Round 6 winners advance to this round

Opponents determined as per bracket

 

QUARTER FINALS

Dates: First Leg - 21-22 June 2016, Second Leg - 25-26 2016.

Match Rules: If aggregate scores are tied after Second Leg, away goals rule applies. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level.

Teams can name 12 substitutes and use 3.

8 Teams: Round 7 winners advance to this round

Opponents determined as per bracket

 

SEMI FINALS

Dates: 29-30 June 2016.

Venue: To be determined

Match Rules: 30 minutes of extra-time will be required if teams level after 90 minutes. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level after extra-time.

Teams can name 12 substitutes and use 3.

4 Teams: Quarter Final winners advance to this round

Opponents determined as per bracket

Coin toss determines which team has 'home' advantage and first choice of kit colours in event of clash

 

FINAL

Date: 3 July 2016.

Venue: To be determined

Match Rules: 30 minutes of extra-time will be required if teams level after 90 minutes. Penalty shoot-out will be required if teams still level after extra-time.

Teams can name 12 substitutes and use 3.

2 Teams: Semi Final winners advance to this round

Coin toss determines which team has 'home' advantage and first choice of kit colours in event of clash

Edited by CFuller

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Really great idea and can't wait to read more!

Cheers, Dan! I'm a big fan of the current structure of international football, but I've always wanted to do something different with it in FM.

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Making Up The Numbers

When the new FIFA World Championship was first announced, there were rumours that several nations would boycott the competition. There were even suggestions that so many of the 209 FIFA members would decline to take part that there might not have even been a need for a Preliminary Round.

 

Russia was the biggest nation - in footballing terms as well as area terms - to warn that it would consider refusing its invitation. Following the World Championship's approval by the Executive Committee, Vitaly Mutko stepped down from the panel over the cancellation of his country's World Cup.

 

Mutko would later enter discussions with Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, about organising an alternative international football championship, which would be invitational only. They would target the biggest footballing nations first - Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Spain, et cetera - and offer them huge financial incentives to compete in that tournament rather than the official World Championship.

 

Russia's attempts to woo the big names away from FIFA did not impress many. Wolfgang Niersbach, President of the Deutsche Fußball-Bund (DFB), quickly laughed off speculation about a breakaway and stated that, although the DFB were sceptical about the new World Championship format, they had no desire to boycott that competition.

 

Then Bambini intervened, stating that any football association that entered any unofficial championship would immediately be stripped of its FIFA membership. He was determined not to be undermined, especially not at such an early stage in his presidency.

 

The threat of expulsion was enough to deter any would-be rebels. Mutko and Putin quietly backed down, and within a week, their big international championship idea was dead in the water.

 

Mutko's feud with FIFA was still ongoing, and it would not be settled until much further down the line. Meanwhile, although Russia accepted their invitation to the World Championship, doubts about whether they would actually compete would linger on for several months.

 

Qatar - and all of the other gulf states, for that matter - also contemplated a boycott behind the scenes, although that idea quickly fizzled out when it became clear that they would have effectively become self-made footballing pariahs.

 

Other nations much lower down the sport's food chain had greater concerns. The President of the Solomon Islands Football Federation - the wonderfully-named Barnabas Anga - expressed his fears that his team would be drawn against a non-Oceanic team in the Preliminary Round.

 

As Anga put it, his association could hardly afford to fund a round-trip to somewhere like San Marino or the Bahamas, even less a potential Round 1 match against - for example - North Korea, against whom they would have next-to-no chance of victory.

 

Bambini had planned ahead, mind you. He declared that FIFA would pay travel and accomodation costs for all teams ranked outside the world's top 64 throughout their time in the competition.

 

Bambini's declaration, though, did not please everyone. The Democratic Republic of Congo was among the world's poorest countries, but its team sat inside FIFA's top 64 and had to pay their own expenses. That angered the Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association (FECOFA) and its President, Omari Selemani.

 

"This is completely unfair," Selemani claimed. "There are many teams outside the top 64 who can pay expenses without FIFA's help. Qatar can afford to pay their expensives themsleves, so can Saudi Arabia, so can Norway, so can Canada... I could go on.

 

"Now look at us. Our football federation is amongst the poorest, but we are forced to pay everything on our own simply because our team is one of the strongest.

 

"FIFA should rethink this. They have to consider whether each team needs financial assistance on a case-by-case basis, otherwise FECOFA will seriously consider taking legal action against FIFA."

 

When asked about Selemani's threats, Jérôme Valcke shrugged and said, "I'm sure they won't have any problems [with paying expenses]. If they do, President Bambini will think again about his plans, but at this moment, he will not make - what's the word? - a U-turn."

 

Although Selemani's wishes had not been granted, he wasn't going to withdraw his team from the World Championship - not yet, anyway. Besides, FECOFA wouldn't discover the identity of their first opponents until November, so they had plenty of time to plan ahead and raise funds for any particularly long journeys.

 

FIFA announced on 26 June that all 209 of its member associations had provisionally entered the inaugural FIFA World Championship, which would take place between August 2015 and July 2016.

 

The World Championship could cater for up to 224 teams, though, so Bambini offered a number of nations that were not yet affiliated to FIFA the chance to apply for places:

 

  • French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Gibraltar, Martinique, Northern Mariana Islands, Réunion, and Tuvalu all had their applications into the World Championship accepted and were immediately admitted into FIFA as full members.

  • Bonaire, Mayotte, Micronesia, Saint-Martin, Sint-Maarten, St Pierre & Miquelon, Wallis & Futuna Islands, and Zanzibar all applied to enter the tournament, but were rejected on the grounds of "not having enough registered players".

  • The disputed territory of Kosovo made a last-minute application, which was rejected due to "time constraints".

  • Kiribati, who are affiliated to the Oceanian Football Confederation, did not issue an application before the deadline and thus were not entered into the competition.

  • The five United Nations member states who were not affiliated to any FIFA confederation and did not apply to enter the competition were Monaco, Nauru, Palau, the Vatican City, and the Marshall Islands (the only UN member not to have a recorded national football team). The United Kingdom was represented by the teams of its four consistuent countries.

 

The chances of any of the seven new members getting past the Preliminary Round, let alone into the finals stage, were incredibly slim. As Bambini saw it, though, that was beside the point. This was a "world championship for all".

 

With his new tournament now filled up, Bambini could now proceed with turning his FIFA World Championship dream into reality. The draw for the early qualifying rounds would take place on 15 July.

Edited by CFuller

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2016 FIFA World Championship entrants

Teams were seeded by their FIFA World Ranking as of June 2015:

 

RANK      NATION                               CONTINENT       POINTS
-----------------NATIONS BELOW THIS LINE ENTER IN ROUND 5-----------------
1st       Argentina                            South America   1,484
2nd       Germany                              Europe          1,440
3rd       Belgium                              Europe          1,254
4th       Colombia                             South America   1,241
5th       Netherlands                          Europe          1,221
6th       Brazil                               South America   1,187
7th       Portugal                             Europe          1,177
8th       England                              Europe          1,140
9th       Romania                              Europe          1,130
10th      Chile                                South America   1,126
11th      Spain                                Europe          1,121
12th      Wales                                Europe          1,115
13th      Uruguay                              South America   1,062
14th      Croatia                              Europe          1,017
15th      Switzerland                          Europe          1,015
16th      Italy                                Europe          1,007
17th      Austria                              Europe          982
18th      Slovakia                             Europe          978
19th      Algeria                              Africa          937
20th      Ivory Coast                          Africa          912
21st      Czech Republic                       Europe          911
22nd      France                               Europe          909
23rd      Denmark                              Europe          872
24th      Iceland                              Europe          852
25th      Bosnia & Herzegovina                 Europe          828
26th      Ghana                                Africa          811
27th      Ukraine                              Europe          800
28th      Russia                               Europe          793
29th      Scotland                             Europe          773
30th      United States of America             North America   766
31st      Ecuador                              South America   755
32nd      Hungary                              Europe          754
-----------------NATIONS BELOW THIS LINE ENTER IN ROUND 4-----------------
33rd      Sweden                               Europe          750
=34th     Poland                               Europe          747
=34th     Tunisia                              Africa          747
36th      Costa Rica                           North America   719
37th      Mexico                               North America   716
38th      Iran                                 Asia            703
=39th     Albania                              Europe          698
=39th     Greece                               Europe          698
41st      Senegal                              Africa          694
42nd      Northern Ireland                     Europe          688
43rd      Serbia                               Europe          665
44th      Cameroon                             Africa          658
45th      Venezuela                            South America   649
46th      Turkey                               Europe          633
47th      Slovenia                             Europe          625
48th      Peru                                 South America   622
49th      Japan                                Asia            618
50th      Congo-Brazzaville                    Africa          613
51st      Egypt                                Africa          607
52nd      Nigeria                              Africa          605
53rd      Israel                               Europe          600
54th      Paraguay                             South America   599
55th      South Korea                          Asia            597
56th      Republic of Ireland                  Europe          594
57th      Cape Verde                           Africa          591
58th      Guinea                               Africa          587
59th      Panama                               North America   562
60th      Mali                                 Africa          548
61st      Australia                            Asia            546
62nd      Democratic Republic of Congo         Africa          539
63rd      Trinidad & Tobago                    North America   529
64th      Equatorial Guinea                    Africa          526
-----------------NATIONS BELOW THIS LINE ENTER IN ROUND 3-----------------
65th      Gabon                                Africa          511
66th      Bolivia                              South America   504
67th      Norway                               Europe          494
68th      United Arab Emirates                 Asia            486
69th      Bulgaria                             Europe          480
=70th     South Africa                         Africa          478
=70th     Zambia                               Africa          478
72nd      Burkina Faso                         Africa          477
73rd      Uzbekistan                           Asia            459
74th      Uganda                               Africa          458
75th      Honduras                             North America   442
76th      China                                Asia            429
=77th     Jamaica                              North America   428
=77th     Montenegro                           Europe          428
=79th     Faroe Islands                        Europe          421
=79th     Rwanda                               Africa          421
81st      Haiti                                North America   418
82nd      Estonia                              Europe          416
83rd      Togo                                 Africa          412
84th      Armenia                              Europe          397
85th      Morocco                              Africa          391
=86th     Finland                              Europe          382
=86th     Iraq                                 Asia            382
88th      Latvia                               Europe          373
89th      Cyprus                               Europe          372
90th      Jordan                               Asia            368
91st      El Salvador                          North America   364
92nd      Sudan                                Africa          361
93rd      Libya                                Africa          359
94th      Saudi Arabia                         Asia            358
95th      Angola                               Africa          357
96th      Benin                                Africa          347
-----------------NATIONS BELOW THIS LINE ENTER IN ROUND 2-----------------
=97th     Mozambique                           Africa          346
=97th     Qatar                                Asia            346
99th      Niger                                Africa          343
100th     Belarus                              Europe          341
101st     Oman                                 Asia            340
102nd     Ethiopia                             Africa          330
103rd     Canada                               North America   324
104th     Macedonia                            Europe          319
105th     Sierra Leone                         Africa          316
106th     Azerbaijan                           Europe          311
107th     Cuba                                 North America   305
108th     Guatemala                            North America   304
109th     Lithuania                            Europe          299
110th     Malawi                               Africa          295
111th     Zimbabwe                             Africa          292
112th     Antigua & Barbuda                    North America   291
113th     Bahrain                              Asia            282
114th     Namibia                              Africa          277
115th     Kenya                                Africa          269
116th     Palestine                            Asia            265
117th     St Vincent & The Grenadines          North America   264
118th     Botswana                             Africa          258
119th     Syria                                Asia            254
=120th    Belize                               North America   246
=120th    Kuwait                               Asia            246
=122nd    Madagascar                           Africa          244
=122nd    St Kitts & Nevis                     North America   244
124th     Moldova                              Europe          240
125th     Philippines                          Asia            236
126th     Dominican Republic                   North America   228
=127th    Lebanon                              Asia            222
=127th    St Lucia                             North America   222
-----------------NATIONS BELOW THIS LINE ENTER IN ROUND 1-----------------
129th     Mauritania                           Africa          221
130th     North Korea                          Asia            220
=131st    Burundi                              Africa          218
=131st    Lesotho                              Africa          218
=131st    New Zealand                          Oceania         218
134th     Aruba                                North America   214
135th     Afghanistan                          Asia            212
136th     Guinea-Bissau                        Africa          211
137th     Tanzania                             Africa          209
138th     Bermuda                              North America   202
139th     Swaziland                            Africa          199
140th     Luxembourg                           Europe          197
141st     Kazakhstan                           Europe          194
142nd     Thailand                             Asia            193
143rd     Vietnam                              Asia            192
144th     Barbados                             North America   188
145th     Tajikistan                           Asia            187
146th     The Gambia                           Africa          185
147th     Nicaragua                            North America   181
148th     Georgia                              Europe          176
149th     Liechtenstein                        Europe          174
150th     Turkmenistan                         Asia            168
151st     Puerto Rico                          North America   166
152nd     Singapore                            Asia            165
153rd     Curaçao                              North America   163
154th     Liberia                              Africa          162
155th     Kyrgyzstan                           Asia            160
=156th    Hong Kong                            Asia            159
=156th    India                                Asia            159
158th     Malta                                Europe          157
=159th    Grenada                              North America   156
=159th    Guam                                 Asia            156
161st     Guyana                               North America   154 *
162nd     Suriname                             North America   147 *
163rd     Myanmar                              Asia            142 *
164th     Indonesia                            Asia            134 *
165th     New Caledonia                        Oceania         126 *
166th     Central African Republic             Africa          124 *
167th     East Timor                           Asia            121 *
168th     Malaysia                             Asia            118 *
-----------------NATIONS BELOW THIS LINE ENTER IN PRELIMS-----------------
169th     Bhutan                               Asia            116
170th     Bangladesh                           Asia            114
171st     Chad                                 Africa          109
=172nd    Pakistan                             Asia            100
=172nd    Yemen                                Asia            100
174th     Dominica                             North America   95
175th     Maldives                             Asia            94
176th     US Virgin Islands                    North America   90
177th     Laos                                 Asia            86
178th     Montserrat                           North America   76
179th     Chinese Taipei                       Asia            72
180th     Mauritius                            Africa          71
181st     Nepal                                Asia            64
=182nd    Cambodia                             Asia            61
=182nd    Sri Lanka                            Asia            61
184th     Macau                                Asia            60
185th     Brunei                               Asia            58
186th     Tahiti                               Oceania         56
187th     Comoros                              Africa          54
188th     Seychelles                           Africa          51
189th     Solomon Islands                      Oceania         48
190th     São Tomé & Príncipe                  Africa          46
191st     Cayman Islands                       North America   45
192nd     San Marino                           Europe          36
193rd     Turks & Caicos Islands               North America   35  *
194th     South Sudan                          Africa          26  *
195th     British Virgin Islands               North America   24  *
196th     Samoa                                Oceania         20  *
=197th    Tonga                                Oceania         19  *
=197th    Vanuatu                              Oceania         19  *
199th     Fiji                                 Oceania         16  *
=200th    American Samoa                       Oceania         13  *
=200th    Bahamas                              North America   13  *
=202nd    Andorra                              Europe          10  *
=202nd    Papua New Guinea                     Oceania         10  *
=204th    Eritrea                              Africa          8   *
=204th    Mongolia                             Asia            8   *
206th     Somalia                              Africa          6   *
207th     Djibouti                             Africa          4   *
208th     Cook Islands                         Oceania         3   *
209th     Anguilla                             North America   1   *
=210th    French Guiana                        North America   0   *
=210th    Gibraltar                            Europe          0   *
=210th    Guadeloupe                           North America   0   *
=210th    Martinique                           North America   0   *
=210th    Northern Mariana Islands             Asia            0   *
=210th    Réunion                              Africa          0   *
=210th    Tuvalu                               Oceania         0   *
 
* denotes teams that are 'unseeded' for their opening round

Edited by CFuller

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Awesome start to see the entire FIFA Rankings!:) Any chance for the remaining teams to be part of the tournament in a new edition soon, probably another version with 224 teams and possibly Crimea, Gibraltar and Kosovo.

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Awesome start to see the entire FIFA Rankings!:) Any chance for the remaining teams to be part of the tournament in a new edition soon, probably another version with 224 teams and possibly Crimea, Gibraltar and Kosovo.

Not in FM16, but I could certainly do a 224-team World Championship that includes Kosovo and some other teams for FM17 (the issue of whether to include Crimea is a little more contentious). Gibraltar are already in my World Championship file and will feature in this story.

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Early Qualifying Rounds Draw

Gio Bambini was a man used to overseeing major cup draws. After succeeding the late David Taylor as UEFA's General Secretary in 2009, Bambini would effective serve as 'master of ceremonies' for the next six years' worth of Champions League, Europa League, and European Championship draws.

 

Now, though, the Swiss-Italian would have to take a back seat. On the afternoon of 15 July 2015, the newly-elected FIFA President watched on as the draws for the qualifying stages of his new World Championship took place at FIFA HQ in Zurich.

 

Co-ordinating the draws was Jérôme Valcke - the General Secretary of FIFA. The 54-year-old Frenchman had worked as a television journalist and executive before moving to FIFA in 2003. He had been General Secretary - a position second only to the President in seniority - since 2007.

 

Draw ceremonies have a history of being elongated and overstated affairs, especially when it comes to FIFA or UEFA. This was no different; indeed, it was even more extravagant - some might say even say nauseating - than ever.

 

This first draw ceremony would determine the matchups for the opening four rounds of the competition, running up until November. Prior to each stage of the draw, there was an 'artistical performance' depicting one of four episodes of FIFA's 111-year history: its formation, the first FIFA World Cup in 1930, the vast influx of new member nations between the 1960s and the mid-1990s, and the 'new dawn' of FIFA post-Blatter.

 

These performances did not go down well with a lot of onlookers. The harshest critics drew up unflattering comparisons to "United Passions" - the 2014 film about FIFA's history starring Tim Roth, Gérard Depardieu and Sam Neill. That particular 110-minute cinematic masterpiece grossed $918 in the North American box office and scored a rating of 0% on the Rotten Tomatoes film review website.

 

When it came to the draws themselves, Valcke and his glamourous sidekick - Sky Sports News presenter Kate Abdo - called upon several world football icons to draw the balls out of pots and pair the teams up. These football legends would represent each of FIFA's six confederations.

 

UEFA had Portuguese superstar Luís Figo and Russian goalkeeper Rinat Dasayev. CAF had Roger Milla, who was the World Cup's oldest goalscorer when he was at his pomp for Cameroon. New Zealander Wynton Rufer attended on behalf of the OFC, while some Manchester City fans were rather amused to see the AFC represented by their former defender Sun Jihai from China.

 

Two CONMEBOL nations had representation in the form of ex-Argentina midfielder Juan Sebastián Verón, and Ronaldo - the Brazilian who was already a goal machine before his Portuguese namesake came along. Finally, flying the flag for CONCACAF was Carli Lloyd - captain of the American team who'd won the FIFA Women's World Cup just days earlier.

 

The Preliminary Round draw saw the 24 'worst' teams according to the FIFA World Rankings pitted, one by one, against each of the next lowest-ranked sides. The winners would go into Round 1 and, along with eight low-ranked entries, be paired against any of the seeded teams in that round.

 

The draws for Round 2 and Round 3 would follow a similar pattern; each winner from the previous stage would face a higher-ranked team who had been seeded through to that round.

 

All in all, the draw took about two hours, although with all of the sideshows in between, it felt a whole lot longer. As the Round 2 draw was about to begin, BBC commentator Jonathan Pearce - who'd just returned from covering the aforementioned Women's World Cup in Canada - quipped, "If my wife's watching this, don't worry; I might be home next month."

 

Generally, though, the draw was well executed and professionally presented. In spite of all the complexities involved, Valcke tried to keep things as clear as possible, and he didn't slip up - not even once.

 

Future ceremonies would, mercifully, be shorter. The next would take place in late November to determine the ties for Rounds 4 and 5. After that, the 32 remaining teams would reconvene in Zurich in April, when the draw for the finals phase would be held.

 

PRELIMINARY ROUND DRAW

MATCH #   HOME IN LEG 1                                HOME IN LEG 2
1         Cook Islands                         vs      São Tomé & Príncipe                 
2         Papua New Guinea                     vs      Maldives                            
3         Vanuatu                              vs      Pakistan                            
4         Turks & Caicos Islands               vs      Mauritius                           
5         Andorra                              vs      Cayman Islands                      
6         Tuvalu                               vs      San Marino                          
7         Guadeloupe                           vs      Macau                               
8         Somalia                              vs      Yemen                                
9         Mongolia                             vs      Nepal                               
10        Gibraltar                            vs      Chinese Taipei                      
11        Northern Mariana Islands             vs      Montserrat                          
12        Djibouti                             vs      Chad                                
13        Fiji                                 vs      Bangladesh                          
14        Eritrea                              vs      Seychelles                          
15        Martinique                           vs      Solomon Islands                     
16        British Virgin Islands               vs      Laos                                
17        Anguilla                             vs      Brunei                              
18        Bahamas                              vs      Cambodia                            
19        American Samoa                       vs      US Virgin Islands                   
20        Réunion                              vs      Comoros                             
21        Tonga                                vs      Dominica                            
22        South Sudan                          vs      Tahiti                              
23        French Guiana                        vs      Bhutan                              
24        Samoa                                vs      Sri Lanka                           

 

ROUND 1 DRAW

MATCH #   HOME IN LEG 1                                HOME IN LEG 2
25        Suriname                             vs      Turkmenistan                        
26        [Winner of Match #24]                vs      Kyrgyzstan                          
27        [Winner of Match #23]                vs      Puerto Rico                         
28        [Winner of Match #14]                vs      Tajikistan                          
29        Myanmar                              vs      Guam                                 
30        [Winner of Match #1]                 vs      Afghanistan                         
31        Indonesia                            vs      Aruba                               
32        [Winner of Match #19]                vs      Curaçao                             
33        [Winner of Match #6]                 vs      Luxembourg                          
34        [Winner of Match #11]                vs      The Gambia                          
35        Guyana                               vs      Singapore                           
36        [Winner of Match #2]                 vs      Grenada                             
37        East Timor                           vs      New Zealand                         
38        [Winner of Match #4]                 vs      Tanzania                            
39        [Winner of Match #9]                 vs      Georgia                             
40        [Winner of Match #21]                vs      Thailand                             
41        [Winner of Match #22]                vs      Liechtenstein                       
42        Malaysia                             vs      Guinea-Bissau                       
43        [Winner of Match #15]                vs      Kazakhstan                          
44        [Winner of Match #20]                vs      Mauritania                          
45        [Winner of Match #10]                vs      Malta                               
46        [Winner of Match #16]                vs      Vietnam                             
47        [Winner of Match #5]                 vs      Bermuda                             
48        [Winner of Match #3]                 vs      Burundi                             
49        New Caledonia                        vs      Hong Kong                           
50        [Winner of Match #7]                 vs      Liberia                             
51        [Winner of Match #12]                vs      Lesotho                              
52        [Winner of Match #8]                 vs      Nicaragua                           
53        Central African Republic             vs      India                               
54        [Winner of Match #18]                vs      Swaziland                           
55        [Winner of Match #17]                vs      Barbados                            
56        [Winner of Match #13]                vs      North Korea                         

 

ROUND 2 DRAW

MATCH #   HOME IN LEG 1                                HOME IN LEG 2
57        [Winner of Match #33]                vs      Mozambique                          
58        [Winner of Match #45]                vs      Antigua & Barbuda                   
59        [Winner of Match #30]                vs      Cuba                                
60        [Winner of Match #44]                vs      Zimbabwe                            
61        [Winner of Match #36]                vs      Kenya                               
62        [Winner of Match #37]                vs      Namibia                             
63        [Winner of Match #26]                vs      Guatemala                           
64        [Winner of Match #34]                vs      Moldova                              
65        [Winner of Match #56]                vs      St Vincent & The Grenadines         
66        [Winner of Match #27]                vs      Qatar                               
67        [Winner of Match #47]                vs      Lebanon                             
68        [Winner of Match #52]                vs      Madagascar                          
69        [Winner of Match #28]                vs      Palestine                           
70        [Winner of Match #25]                vs      Azerbaijan                          
71        [Winner of Match #42]                vs      Philippines                         
72        [Winner of Match #41]                vs      Canada                              
73        [Winner of Match #31]                vs      Ethiopia                            
74        [Winner of Match #50]                vs      Malawi                              
75        [Winner of Match #48]                vs      Syria                                
76        [Winner of Match #55]                vs      Bahrain                             
77        [Winner of Match #38]                vs      Botswana                            
78        [Winner of Match #40]                vs      St Lucia                            
79        [Winner of Match #29]                vs      Dominican Republic                  
80        [Winner of Match #35]                vs      Kuwait                              
81        [Winner of Match #49]                vs      Niger                               
82        [Winner of Match #53]                vs      St Kitts & Nevis                    
83        [Winner of Match #39]                vs      Macedonia                           
84        [Winner of Match #43]                vs      Oman                                
85        [Winner of Match #32]                vs      Belize                              
86        [Winner of Match #46]                vs      Belarus                              
87        [Winner of Match #54]                vs      Sierra Leone                        
88        [Winner of Match #51]                vs      Lithuania                           

 

ROUND 3 DRAW

MATCH #   HOME IN LEG 1                                HOME IN LEG 2
89        [Winner of Match #84]                vs      Burkina Faso                        
90        [Winner of Match #73]                vs      Montenegro                          
91        [Winner of Match #60]                vs      Togo                                
92        [Winner of Match #80]                vs      Faroe Islands                       
93        [Winner of Match #64]                vs      Bolivia                             
94        [Winner of Match #76]                vs      Jordan                              
95        [Winner of Match #83]                vs      Haiti                               
96        [Winner of Match #74]                vs      Armenia                              
97        [Winner of Match #57]                vs      Uzbekistan                          
98        [Winner of Match #62]                vs      South Africa                        
99        [Winner of Match #81]                vs      Bulgaria                            
100       [Winner of Match #59]                vs      Honduras                            
101       [Winner of Match #87]                vs      Jamaica                             
102       [Winner of Match #79]                vs      Latvia                              
103       [Winner of Match #65]                vs      United Arab Emirates                
104       [Winner of Match #86]                vs      Angola                              
105       [Winner of Match #69]                vs      Cyprus                              
106       [Winner of Match #63]                vs      Gabon                               
107       [Winner of Match #78]                vs      Libya                                
108       [Winner of Match #58]                vs      Morocco                             
109       [Winner of Match #67]                vs      Estonia                             
110       [Winner of Match #61]                vs      Uganda                               
111       [Winner of Match #88]                vs      China                               
112       [Winner of Match #75]                vs      Rwanda                              
113       [Winner of Match #71]                vs      Sudan                               
114       [Winner of Match #82]                vs      Benin                               
115       [Winner of Match #72]                vs      Finland                             
116       [Winner of Match #66]                vs      Saudi Arabia                        
117       [Winner of Match #77]                vs      El Salvador                         
118       [Winner of Match #85]                vs      Iraq                                 
119       [Winner of Match #70]                vs      Zambia                              
120       [Winner of Match #68]                vs      Norway                              

 

 

 

EARLY QUALIFYING ROUNDS BRACKET

 
|------------|------------|------------|------------|
|  PRELIMS   |  ROUND 1   |  ROUND 2   |  ROUND 3   |
|------------|------------|------------|------------|
¦ Martinique ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦  Solomons  ¦ Kazakhstan ¦    Oman    ¦Burkina Faso¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
             ¦  Indonesia ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
             ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
             ¦    Aruba   ¦  Ethiopia  ¦ Montenegro ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦   Réunion  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦   Comoros  ¦ Mauritania ¦  Zimbabwe  ¦    Togo    ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
             ¦   Guyana   ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
             ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
             ¦  Singapore ¦   Kuwait   ¦   Faroes   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦     NMI    ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦ Montserrat ¦ The Gambia ¦   Moldova  ¦   Bolivia  ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦  Anguilla  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦   Brunei   ¦  Barbados  ¦   Bahrain  ¦   Jordan   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦  Mongolia  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦    Nepal   ¦   Georgia  ¦  Macedonia ¦    Haiti   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦ Guadeloupe ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦    Macau   ¦   Liberia  ¦   Malawi   ¦   Armenia  ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦   Tuvalu   ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦ San Marino ¦ Luxembourg ¦ Mozambique ¦ Uzbekistan ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
             ¦ East Timor ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
             ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
             ¦ New Zealand¦   Namibia  ¦South Africa¦
             ¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
             ¦N. Caledonia¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
             ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
             ¦  Hong Kong ¦    Niger   ¦  Bulgaria  ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦Cook Islands¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦São Tomé & P¦ Afghanistan¦    Cuba    ¦  Honduras  ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦   Bahamas  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦  Cambodia  ¦  Swaziland ¦Sierra Leone¦   Jamaica  ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
             ¦   Myanmar  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
             ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
             ¦    Guam    ¦Dominican R.¦   Latvia   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦    Fiji    ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦ Bangladesh ¦ North Korea¦ St Vincent ¦     UAE    ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦     BVI    ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦    Laos    ¦   Vietnam  ¦   Belarus  ¦   Angola   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦   Eritrea  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦ Seychelles ¦ Tajikistan ¦  Palestine ¦   Cyprus   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦    Samoa   ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦  Sri Lanka ¦ Kyrgyzstan ¦  Guatemala ¦    Gabon   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦    Tonga   ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦  Dominica  ¦  Thailand  ¦  St Lucia  ¦    Libya   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦  Gibraltar ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦  C. Taipei ¦    Malta   ¦Antigua & B ¦   Morocco  ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦   Andorra  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦   Caymans  ¦   Bermuda  ¦   Lebanon  ¦   Estonia  ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦     PNG    ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦  Maldives  ¦   Grenada  ¦    Kenya   ¦   Uganda   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦  Djibouti  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦    Chad    ¦   Lesotho  ¦  Lithuania ¦    China   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦   Vanuatu  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦  Pakistan  ¦   Burundi  ¦    Syria   ¦   Rwanda   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
             ¦  Malaysia  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
             ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
             ¦  G-Bissau  ¦ Philippines¦    Sudan   ¦
             ¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
             ¦     CAR    ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
             ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
             ¦    India   ¦St Kitts & N¦    Benin   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦ South Sudan¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦   Tahiti   ¦Liecht’stein¦   Canada   ¦   Finland  ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦  F. Guiana ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦   Bhutan   ¦ Puerto Rico¦    Qatar   ¦Saudi Arabia¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦   T & CI   ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦  Mauritius ¦  Tanzania  ¦  Botswana  ¦ El Salvador¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦  A. Samoa  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦    US VI   ¦   Curaçao  ¦   Belize   ¦    Iraq    ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
             ¦  Suriname  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
             ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
             ¦Turkmenistan¦ Azerbaijan ¦   Zambia   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦
¦   Somalia  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦  [winner]  ¦
¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦     vs     ¦
¦    Yemen   ¦  Nicaragua ¦ Madagascar ¦   Norway   ¦
-------------¦------------¦------------¦------------¦

Edited by CFuller

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Great idea this, looking forward to seeing the results of the early rounds!

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Great idea this, looking forward to seeing the results of the early rounds!

Thank you. It will be very interesting to see which stories develop and which unheralded teams emerge as contenders before the bigger nations enter the fray.

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Preliminary Round Preview

The inaugural FIFA World Championship kicked off early in August, and the Preliminary Round draw had thrown up some interesting ties.

 

Surprisingly, there were only a few ties between two countries from the same confederation. The highlight of those was perhaps Réunion vs Comoros - a sort of derby between two French-speaking Indian Ocean nations.

 

Two more all-CAF clashes would see former French colonies Djibouti and Chad go head-to-head, while Eritrea took on the Seychelles.

 

Elsewhere, there was an all-Asian battle between Mongolia and Nepal. Laos would set up a Round 1 showdown with neighbours Vietnam if they could overcome the British Virgin Islands.

 

The highest-ranked nation in the draw were Bhutan, who would open up against one of the seven newest FIFA members - French Guiana. Another recent addition to the FIFA family - Tuvalu - would fancy their chances of causing an upset against San Marino.

 

Gibraltar had also been newly admitted to FIFA, and quite a few observers expected them to surprise Chinese Taipei in the opening round. Another seed that looked vulnerable was Macau, who had been pitted against Guadeloupe.

 

South Sudan, who had gained independence a little over four years earlier, would face one of the stronger Preliminary Round entrants in Tahiti - the last winner of the old OFC Nations Cup in 2012. The Solomon Islands were another formidable team from the Oceania region, although Martinique represented a potential banana skin for them.

 

The Indian subcontinent was represented by the seeded quartet of Bangladesh, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who would start their respective campaigns against Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Samoa.

 

Andorra - traditionally among European football's featherweights - would look to spring up a surprise or two in this World Championship, starting with a tie against the Cayman Islands. Then there was Montserrat, who lost the 'Other Final' to Bhutan on the same day as the 2002 World Cup Final, and who hoped to avoid a Preliminary Round exit at the hands of the Northern Mariana Islands.

 

PRELIMINARY ROUND, LEG 1: 7 August 2015

Andorra                              vs      Cayman Islands                      
Cook Islands                         vs      São Tomé & Príncipe                 
Djibouti                             vs      Chad                                
Gibraltar                            vs      Chinese Taipei                      
Guadeloupe                           vs      Macau                               
Mongolia                             vs      Nepal                               
Northern Mariana Islands             vs      Montserrat                          
Papua New Guinea                     vs      Maldives                            
Somalia                              vs      Yemen                               
Turks & Caicos Islands               vs      Mauritius                           
Tuvalu                               vs      San Marino                          
Vanuatu                              vs      Pakistan                            

PRELIMINARY ROUND, LEG 1: 8 August 2015

American Samoa                       vs      US Virgin Islands                   
Anguilla                             vs      Brunei                              
Bahamas                              vs      Cambodia                             
British Virgin Islands               vs      Laos                                
Eritrea                              vs      Seychelles                          
Fiji                                 vs      Bangladesh                           
French Guiana                        vs      Bhutan                              
Martinique                           vs      Solomon Islands                     
Réunion                              vs      Comoros                             
South Sudan                          vs      Tahiti                              
Samoa                                vs      Sri Lanka                           
Tonga                                vs      Dominica                            

PRELIMINARY ROUND, LEG 2: 11 August 2015

Cayman Islands                       vs      Andorra                             
Chad                                 vs      Djibouti                             
Chinese Taipei                       vs      Gibraltar                           
Macau                                vs      Guadeloupe                          
Maldives                             vs      Papua New Guinea                     
Mauritius                            vs      Turks & Caicos Islands              
Montserrat                           vs      Northern Mariana Islands            
Nepal                                vs      Mongolia                             
Pakistan                             vs      Vanuatu                             
San Marino                           vs      Tuvalu                              
São Tomé & Príncipe                  vs      Cook Islands                        
Yemen                                vs      Somalia                             

PRELIMINARY ROUND, LEG 2: 12 August 2015

Bangladesh                           vs      Fiji                                
Bhutan                               vs      French Guiana                       
Brunei                               vs      Anguilla                            
Cambodia                             vs      Bahamas                              
Comoros                              vs      Réunion                             
Dominica                             vs      Tonga                               
Laos                                 vs      British Virgin Islands              
Seychelles                           vs      Eritrea                             
Solomon Islands                      vs      Martinique                          
Sri Lanka                            vs      Samoa                               
Tahiti                               vs      South Sudan                         
US Virgin Islands                    vs      American Samoa                      

Edited by CFuller

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Loving this one already Chris. Great format for the International calendar, and love the minnows getting their days in the limelight. Might have to have a look at this edit for future saves. Great work, looking forward to more.

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Loving this one already Chris. Great format for the International calendar, and love the minnows getting their days in the limelight. Might have to have a look at this edit for future saves. Great work, looking forward to more.

Thank you once again, Neil. The file does have its flaws (what file doesn't?), but the response I've had to it since uploading it onto the Steam Workshop has been incredible. There are 1,363 current subscribers as I type this - a figure that was way beyond my wildest expectations.

The first batch of Preliminary Round first-leg results will be online shortly, and the rest of them will follow later this evening.

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The first round draw will be easy at start, so hopefully, I will also see the best players from each nation when the results were revealed soon.:) Once the round ends, I will also see the fun facts about the tournament per round as well!

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Preliminary Round, Leg 1 Results

7 August 2015

Cook Islands vs São Tomé & Príncipe - at Tereora National Stadium, Rarotonga

The Cook Islands started this match very strongly, going ahead after just nine minutes. Teira Ioane converted a penalty after Maro Bonsu-Maro had been tripped in the area by São Tomé & Príncipe defender Aykemss. The hosts' joy didn't last, as Silva drew the Seleção level from an incisive counter-attack in the 16th minute. The game had turned on its head by the 27th minute, when Silva's through-ball allowed Luís Leal to put the away team in front. Silva would get on the scoresheet again on 41 minutes before his 55th-minute cross teed up a second strike from Leal. Although Bonsu-Maro quickly stopped the rot for the Cook Islands, the game was already slipping away from them. Leal completed his hat-trick on 74 minutes to leave São Tomé & Príncipe with a commanding 5-2 lead after the first leg.

Cook Islands - 2 (Teira Ioane pen9, Maro Bonsu-Maro 57)

São Tomé & Príncipe - 5 (Silva 16,41, Luís Leal 27,55,74)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Luís Leal (São Tomé & Príncipe, AM L/ST C - Cerro Porteño)

 

Papua New Guinea vs Maldives - at Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, Port Moresby

Both goalkeepers were kept busy throughout an end-to-end contest. Maldives custodian Imran Mohamed was particularly impressive, but his PNG counterpart Leslie Kalai had a moment to forget in the 36th minute. Ahmed Abdulla sent a first-time cross to Kalai's back post, where Ali Ashfaq popped up to meet the ball with a sublime header. Sadly, Ashfaq's game would end on a much less positive note after 64 minutes. The Maldivian striker suffered suspected knee cartilage damage in a firm but fair tackle from Kapuls captain Daniel Joe that forced his early exit. His replacement was Ahmed Rasheed, who made his mark in the 82nd minute by chipping the ball over Kalai and sealing a 2-0 win for the visitors.

Papua New Guinea - 0

Maldives - 2 (Ali Ashfaq 36, Ahmed Rasheed 82)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Imran Mohamed (Maldives, GK - New Radiant SC)

 

Vanuatu vs Pakistan - at Korman Stadium, Port Vila

Pakistan's campaign began with a fifth-minute goal for frontman Kaleemullah, who hit an excellent first-time shot from M Adil's through-ball. Vanuatu could've responded in the 12th minute, but Fenedy Masauvakalo's shot hit the woodwork. The hosts then went further behind on 23 minutes, as their keeper Chikau Mansale rushed forward to meet a Muhammad Essa free-kick, only to be beaten by Adil's header. To make things worse for Vanuatu, Masauvakalo had a goal disallowed for offside on 29 minutes. They did pull a goal back in the 41st minute through Dominique Fred, but Pakistan remained in control. On 77 minutes, midfielder Nasarullah Khan knocked the ball forward for Kaleemullah to make it 3-1 and put the Pak Shaheens almost out of reach. A late second goal from Fred did at least give Vanuatu a glimmer of hope to take into the second leg.

Vanuatu - 2 (Dominique Fred 41,90)

Pakistan - 3 (Kaleemullah 5,77, M Adil 23)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Kaleemullah (Pakistan, ST C - Dordoy Bishkek)

 

Turks & Caicos Islands vs Mauritius - at National Stadium, Providenciales

Mauritius were playing a left-back up front in Ashley Lemince, but they were still able to make mincemeat of the Turks & Caicos Islands. They dominated the first period, although it took them until the 37th minute to take the lead through an emphatic strike from Lemince. Five minutes after that, Lemince turned provider for Gary Noel, who headed in a second Mauritian goal. Les Dodos didn't push particularly hard for more goals in the second half, but then again, they didn't really need to. The Turks & Caicos Islands really were little more than average.

Turks & Caicos Islands - 0

Mauritius - 2 (Ashley Lemince 37, Gary Noel 42)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Kévin Bru (Mauritius, M/AM C - Ipswich Town)

 

Andorra vs Cayman Islands - at Estadil Nacional, Andorra la Vella

Usually seen as whipping boys in European football, Andorra saw this home game as a rare opportunity to dish out the punishment for once. They started off with a lethal volley from Edu Peppe in the 33rd minute that left Cayman Islands keeper Ramon Sealy helplessly flapping at thin air. Peppe would strike again just before half-time, beating Sealy with a 25-yard screamer. Peppe couldn't seal a hat-trick, but Andorra's third goal was - appropriately - scored by a player called Andorrà. Substitute striker Xavier Andorrà made his mark after 64 minutes, sliding home an exquisite left-wing cross from Marc García. This was a chastening defeat for the seeded Cayman Islands, who failed to register a single shot on target.

Andorra - 3 (Edu Peppe 33,45, Xavier Andorrà 64)

Cayman Islands - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Edu Peppe (Andorra, AM C - FC Andorra)

 

Tuvalu vs San Marino - at Tuvalu Sports Ground, Funafuti

The long trip to Polynesia clearly had an effect on San Marino, as they were punished for a very sluggish start. FIFA newcomers Tuvalu sent out a message in the 24th minute, when Kolone Pokia headed captain Alopua Petoa's cross into the Sammarinese target. The underdogs were ahead, and when San Marino had a complete defensive meltdown in the 57th minute, a surprise result looked even more likely! Goalkeeper Elia Benedettini could only scuff a woeful back-pass from his defender Mirko Palazzi to the feet of Petoa, who stroked the ball effortlessly into the net. San Marino did get a goal back on 76 minutes through a much more reliable defensive presence in Davide Simoncini, but they still went back home needing to overturn a deficit in the second leg.

Tuvalu - 2 (Kolone Pokia 24, Alopua Petoa 57)

San Marino - 1 (Davide Simoncini 76)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Davide Simoncini (San Marino, D C - Libertas)

 

Guadeloupe vs Macau - at Stade René Serge Nabajoth, Les Abymes

Guadeloupe were awarded a penalty after 20 minutes when striker Grégory Gendrey was tripped by Macau left-back Lei Ka Ho. Goalkeeper Tam Heng Wa did save his team-mate's blushes by saving Claudio Beauvue's spot-kick, but that only delayed the almost inevitable opening goal from a dominant Guadeloupe team. Brice Jovial kicked off the scoring with a screamer in the 36th minute, and Les Gwada Boys were soon feeling even more jovial. On 44 minutes, Tam made an unconvincing save from Beauvue and palmed the ball to Gendrey, who made it 2-0. Guadeloupe would hit the target again midway through the second half, with Beauvue banishing his penalty memories with a lovely finish. The hosts would have 13 shots on target in total, and on another day, they could've racked up an even bigger winning margin.

Guadeloupe - 3 (Brice Jovial 36, Grégory Gendrey 44, Claudio Beauvue 67)

Macau - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Claudio Beauvue (Guadeloupe, AM R/ST C - Celta Vigo)

 

Somalia vs Yemen - at Mogadishu Stadium, Mogadishu

Yemen received a hostile reception from the home fans at Mogadishu, but it wasn't long before they silenced the Somalian supporters. Fafed Al-Harshi found Ayman Al-Hagri in space, and the attacking midfielder slipped a cool shot into the bottom corner. Al-Hagri struck again six minutes later, heading Wahid Roshani's corner into the net. He would surely have completed his hat-trick in the 28th minute but for a vital saving tackle from Somalia centre-back Abdi Ali. The Ocean Stars were all at sea now, and a second-half injury to striker Abubakar Sheego virtually ended their chances of taking anything from this game.

Somalia - 0

Yemen - 2 (Ayman Al-Hagri 15,21)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ayman Al-Hagri (Yemen, AM C - Al-Njoom)

 

Mongolia vs Nepal - at National Stadium, Ulaan Baatar

A thrilling first half saw three goals scored in the space of four minutes. Firstly, after 20 minutes, Anil Gurung volleyed Benjamin Bhandari's free-kick home to give Nepal the edge. Their lead lasted less than a minute, though, before Tsedenbal Tumenjargal got Mongolia back on terms. The Gorkhalis fought back in the 23rd minute, as Gurung capped off an explosive breakaway with his second goal. He would have a third before half-time, thanks to a second assist from Bal Gopal Bista. Bista was also celebrating a hat-trick of sorts in the 54th minute, after laying on yet another assist for Gurung! Mercifully, for Mongolia, the scoring ended there, although Gurung did threaten to add to his four goals. If he had scored a fifth, it would surely have signalled the end for Mongolia's Red Army.

Mongolia - 1 (Tsedenbal Tumenjargal 21)

Nepal - 4 (Anil Gurung 20,23,45,54)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Anil Gurung (Nepal, ST C - Manang Marsyangdi)

 

Gibraltar vs Chinese Taipei - at Victoria Stadium

Anyone expecting a goal rush in this game would be left very disappointed. A low-tempo match saw a lot of awful shooting, along with some solid defending. There would only be three shots on target in total, with Chinese Taipei having two of them through Ke Yu-ting and Wen Chi-hao. Wen in particular was left wondering "what if?" after Gibraltarian keeper Jordan Perez turned his shot behind in the 83rd minute. The match unsurprisingly finished goalless, with Chinese Taipei arguably feeling the slightly happier of the two teams.

Gibraltar - 0

Chinese Taipei - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Xavier Chen (Chinese Taipei, D/WB R - KV Mechelen)

 

Northern Mariana Islands vs Montserrat - at Oleai Sports Complex Field, Saipan

Lyle Taylor led Montserrat forward virtually single-handedly in a match that they would control almost from start to finish. After a couple of early near-misses, Taylor did hit the back of the net in the 21st minute, thanks to a fine delivery from strike partner Michael Williams. Taylor would grab another goal eight minutes later, with left-winger Leon Allen the architect this time. Joe Wang Miller did get very close to pulling a goal back for the Northern Mariana Islands just before half-time, but this was otherwise a stroll in the park for Montserrat. Barring a mess-up on home soil, they could look ahead to Round 1.

Northern Mariana Islands - 0

Montserrat - 2 (Lyle Taylor 21,29)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Lyle Taylor (Montserrat, ST C - AFC Wimbledon)

 

Djibouti vs Chad - at Stade Hassan Gouled, Djibouti City

Djibouti were undone by some sublime football from Chad in the eighth minute, with Karl Max finishing the move off to send the visitors in front. The Lebanon-based striker would then narrowly miss the target with a couple of headers midway through the first half. Chad were leading 2-0 by the 30th minute, with Sanaa Altama applying the finish after his skipper Ezechiel Ndouassel had hit the post from a tight angle. Ndouassel had another near-miss very soon after the second half began. Djibouti's goalkeeping captain Abdoulrahman Youssouf got a glove to Ndouassel's strike but only parried it as far as Karl Max, who buried the follow-up and put Les Sao on course for a comfortable 3-0 victory.

Djibouti - 0

Chad - 3 (Karl Max 8,46, Sanaa Altama 30)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Karl Max (Chad, ST C - Nejmeh SC Beirut)

Edited by CFuller

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The first round draw will be easy at start, so hopefully, I will also see the best players from each nation when the results were revealed soon.:) Once the round ends, I will also see the fun facts about the tournament per round as well!

Ooh... you got that in just before I published! I'm sure you'll recognise some names from the present, and maybe even CMs/FMs of the past, in the early qualifying rounds.

I don't know about after each particular round, but I'll certainly publish a list of records, statistics and fun facts at the end of the qualifying phase. I might even share some of the more amusing player names! (In the very last test run I did before starting the story save, I noticed that one of the US Virgin Islands' greyed-out players had the exact same name as me!)

I'll quite happily listen to any feedback from this, and if you have any ideas as to how I can make this story even better, by all means share them.

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Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, great starts!!! All the best to all subcontinent teams!!

Not a bad start by the Indian subcontinent at all. India have a winnable opening tie against the Central African Republic in the next round, so it's all looking rather good for that part of the world. I'm assuming you're from that region, hence your interest in those teams.

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Preliminary Round, Leg 1 Results

8 August 2015

Fiji vs Bangladesh - at National Stadium, Suva

Roy Krishna had a frustrating first half up front for Fiji. He had a number of chances to score in the first half, but was denied by some narrow misses as well as some fine goalkeeping from Bangladesh's Shahidul Alam Sohel. Krishna's luck turned for the better early in the second half. The Wellington Phoenix striker got his head to an impressive cross from right-back Samuel Kautoga, and the Bula Boys were finally leading after 54 minutes. Sohel then had to make further saves from Krishna and the experienced Veresa Toma to prevent Fiji from extending their lead. Those saves would prove significant in the 86th minute, when Bangladesh grabbed an equaliser against the run of play. Zahid Hossain's cross was tucked away by Jahid Hasan Ameli, and the Fijians were left wondering how they hadn't won.

Fiji - 1 (Roy Krishna 54)

Bangladesh - 1 (Jahid Hasan Ameli 86)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Samuela Kautoga (Fiji, D RC - Amicale)

 

Eritrea vs Seychelles - at Cicero Stadium, Asmara

Eritrea made a mockery of their underdog status by attacking the Seychelles right from the off. Right-back Rtawi Mecconen's crosses caused Pirates goalkeeper Kitson Cecile more than a bit of bother, although striker Tecleab Petros' shots didn't trouble him so much. Eritrea's other frontman Golgol Mebrahtu was also off target with most of his shots. One headed effort from Mebrahtu clipped the outside of the post just before half-time. He would get another opportunity to strike in the 66th minute. Mecconen's cross into the six-yard box was nodded on by Joel Mehari to Mebrahtu, who finally opened the scoring with a clinical finish. Mehari's job was done, as the substitute was then subbed himself after just six minutes of action! It was a bemusing call from the Eritrean management, but the team's game management did not come under question as they closed out a superb narrow win.

Eritrea - 1 (Golgol Mebrahtu 66)

Seychelles - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Benoit Marie (Seychelles, D R - Côte d'Or)

 

Martinique vs Solomon Islands - at Stade d'Honneur de Dillon, Fort-de-France

This match was billed as a close affair, and so it proved to be. Martinique kicked off the scoring after 20 minutes, as Wilfried Louisy-Daniel flicked Mickaël Alphonse's cross into the net. Henry Fa'arodo then drew the Solomon Islands level three minutes later after a fine set-up from Micah Lea'alafa. The attacking action then switched back and forth until the third goal was scored in the 63rd minute. Jack Samani laid the ball off for Joses Nawo to smash in a first-time strike from outside the Martinique area and send the Solomon Islands into the ascendancy. That wouldn't be the winning goal, though, as Les Matinino fought back eight minutes from time. Defender Cyril Kali got his head to a fabulous free-kick delivery from Bruno Grougi, and Martinique went into the second leg on level terms!

Martinique - 2 (Wilfried Louisy-Daniel 20, Cyril Kali 82)

Solomon Islands - 2 (Henry Fa'arodo 23, Joses Nawo 63)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Bruno Grougi (Martinique, M/AM C - Brest)

 

British Virgin Islands vs Laos - at A.O. Shirley Recreational Ground, Road Town

The British Virgin Islands were caught napping after just three minutes, when Visay Phaphouvanin prodded home a superb cross from Billy Ketkeo. That would be the first part of a first-half hat-trick of assists from Laos' French-born right-winger Ketkeo. The second assist was for Lamnao Singto, who volleyed home in the 17th minute. Ketkeo and Singto would link up again six minutes from half-time, with the latter half-volleying the former's delivery into the net for 3-0. The British Virgin Islands learned their lesson and pushed further up the pitch in the second half to try and lessen Ketkeo's impact. Kevin Fisher did pull a goal back for the Nature Boyz in the 60th minute, but BVI would have to score at least three in the second leg if they were to stay in this competition for much longer.

British Virgin Islands - 1 (Kevin Fisher 60)

Laos - 3 (Visay Phaphouvanin 3, Lamnao Singto 17,39)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Billy Ketkeo (Laos, AM/M R - Angers)

 

Anguilla vs Brunei - at James Ronald Webster Park, The Valley

Anguilla's campaign got off to an awful start, with Brunei striking first in the 18th minute. Anguillan left-back Codero Rogers could only head Mohd Naqiyuddin Mansor's free-kick as far as Azwan Ali, who nodded in a simple finish. The Wasps stung their hosts again after 32 minutes. Captain Mohd Mardi Bujang evaded a challenge from Gracen Hughes to play the ball across to his twin brother Mohd Hardi Bujang, who doubled Brunei's lead. The visitors' attacking threat was reduced somewhat when Ali pulled his hamstring early in the second half, but Anguilla's forwards didn't pose any danger to them whatsoever. Only one of Anguilla's 10 shots was on target, so it wasn't hard to see where their problems lay.

Anguilla - 0

Brunei - 2 (Azwan Ali 18, Mohd Hardi Bujang 32)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Mohd Mardi Bujang (Brunei, ST C - Jerudong)

 

Bahamas vs Cambodia - at Thomas Robinson, Nassau

Although Cambodia looked the stronger team in the first half, the Bahamas defence - led by captain Happy Hall - did very well to keep them at bay. The Baha Boyz also held firm for half of the second period... until goalkeeper Erik Carroll dislocated his shoulder in the 67th minute. As the Bahamas had already used all their substitutes, an outfielder had to go in goal - but they couldn't make their minds up as to who would don the gloves for the remainder of this match! Captain Hall gave it a go, but in the 79th minute, he spilled Tith Dina's cross to Khim Borey, who finally put Cambodia in the lead. Winger Devaughn Williamson then went in goal, but he was easily beaten by Keo Sokpheng in the 88th minute. Keo would then score a third Cambodian goal past a third Bahamian keeper in injury time! Striker Ian Winder made a total hash of Bin Thierry's left-wing cross, leaving Keo free to give the Angkor Warriors a commanding lead after the first leg. What a shambles!

Bahamas - 0

Cambodia - 3 (Khim Borey 79, Keo Sokpheng 88,90)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Keo Sokpheng (Cambodia, ST C - Phnom Penh Crown)

 

American Samoa vs US Virgin Islands - at Veterans Memorial Stadium, Tafuna

Two unincorporated American territories went head-to-head here, and it was the US Virgin Islands who drew first blood after eight minutes. The fabulously-named McCoy Caesar sent in a right-wing cross from deep, and Bryan Kaza-Amlak put it away to get the Dashing Eagle off to a flyer. The woodwork then denied Kaza-Amlak a second goal on 16 minutes. American Samoa would have their own opportunities to score, but the likes of winger Jason Sil and midfielder Panwechi Kaleopa failed to take them. Their biggest miss came from Mamadee Nyepon, who pulled the ball wide in the 80th minute after he'd been played clean through. The US Virgin Islands were able to hold onto their narrow lead in the end.

American Samoa - 0

US Virgin Islands - 1 (Bryan Kaza-Amlak 8)

MAN OF THE MATCH: McCoy Caesar (US Virgin Islands, D R - unattached)

 

Réunion vs Comoros - at Stade Jean Ivoula, Saint-Denis de la Réunion

You couldn't accuse the Comoros of making a sluggish start to this match. A well-worked attack almost straight from the kick-off resulted in Ahmed Mogni giving them the lead after just 42 seconds! Djamel Bakar could've made it 2-0 in the 14th minute, but his banana shot was blocked by team-mate Fouad Bachirou, and his follow-up cleared the bar. Ten minutes later, Réunion captain Vincent Acacpandié's back-pass into his area was intercepted by Mogni, who would surely have scored but for a crucial save from Zacharie Boucher. The home fans breathed a collective sigh of relief... but they were celebrating by the 70th minute, when Christophe Mandanne stunned Comoros with a superb equaliser! With the scores level at 1-1, there was everything to play for in the second leg.

Réunion - 1 (Christophe Mandanne 70)

Comoros - 1 (Ahmed Mogni 1)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Kassim Abdallah (Comoros, D/WB R - Évian Thonon Gaillard)

 

Tonga vs Dominica - at Teufaiva Sport Stadium, Nuku'alofa

Lady Luck was on Tonga's side after half an hour, when Dominica striker Kurlson Benajmin struck the bottom of their post. That was one of several narrow misses from the Dominicans, who were kept at bay by some masterful goalkeeping from Master Makasini. At the other end, 16-year-old Kava Tuihahau had five shots at goal for Tonga. Three of them were saved by Dominican skipper Glenson Price, who made sure that he wouldn't be beaten either in a match that was really only for defence-loving purists.

Tonga - 0

Dominica - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Raheem Anderson (Dominica, D L - unattached)

 

South Sudan vs Tahiti - at Juba Stadium, Juba

South Sudan goalkeeper Roy Golwaq was stretched twice in the first ten minutes, as he saved efforts from Tahitian forwards Raïmana Li Fung Kuee and Steevy Chong. The home defence would face another test when Li Fung Kuee centred the ball into their six-yard box on 34 minutes. Centre-backs Richard Justin Lado and Zachariah Atinasio both fluffed their lines, leaving Chong with an easy finish. After going 1-0 up, Toa Aito were quite happy to sit back and soak up any subsequent South Sudanese attacks. That would be a canny move, as the Tigers couldn't get their teeth stuck into Tahiti, although Dominic Aboy went fairly close to levelling in the 49th minute. A night of promise would ultimately end in disappointment for the hosts.

South Sudan - 0

Tahiti - 1 (Steevy Chong 34)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Fareed Najib (South Sudan, M C - Al-Ahli Shendi)

 

French Guiana vs Bhutan - at Stade de Baduel, Cayenne

It didn't bode well for Bhutan when wide midfielder Karun Gurung picked up a knock after just 10 minutes. Gurung did recover, and he had a half-volleyed shot turned behind by Donovan León, but the game would soon turn very much French Guiana's way. Roy Contout struck the first blow after 31 minutes from Anthony Soubervie's cross. Ten minutes later, Bhutan had an even more serious injury concern, as attacking talisman Chencho Gyeltshen broke his ankle. There was no coming back for the Dragon Boys, who would fall apart spectacularly in the second half. Right-flankers Kinley Tenzin and Tshering Wangdi each conceded penalties in the 72nd and 84th minute, and Guingamp striker Sloan Privat converted both spot-kicks to give French Guiana an impressive 3-0 victory.

French Guiana - 3 (Roy Contout 31, Sloan Privat pen72,pen84)

Bhutan - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Anthony Soubervie (French Guiana, D/WB/M/AM R - Colmar)

 

Samoa vs Sri Lanka - at Apia Stadium

A low-quality match was decided by one moment of pure brilliance from Suranda Bandara. In the 22nd minute, the Sri Lankan centre-back chested a free-kick delivery from Chathura Weerasinghe, and then struck the ball on the half-volley past Samoan keeper Faalavelave Young! Samoa tried to bounce back, but their only shot on target - from winger Paul Sale in the 31st minute - was pushed clear by Vidanage Asanka Viraj. Bandara and the rest of the Lankan Lions' defence remained untroubled as they ground out a narrow win.

Samoa - 0

Sri Lanka - 1 (Suranda Bandara 22)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Chathura Weerasinghe (Sri Lanka, M C - Ratnam)

Edited by CFuller

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Yeah, from India. I actually meant Nepal, Pakistan and Maldives, but Bangladesh did not do too badly anyway. Sri lanka too looking good, but fingers crossed for Bhutan...

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Had a look at the database and is very interesting, will be running a save on it at some point in the future. As for this story what can I say. Really do love doing these sort myself. Looking forward to seeing how it pans out

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Yeah, from India. I actually meant Nepal, Pakistan and Maldives, but Bangladesh did not do too badly anyway. Sri lanka too looking good, but fingers crossed for Bhutan...

Oh, cool. I'm actually half-hoping that India go quite far in this competition - it would be fantastic to see them achieve something in football, if only in FM!

Had a look at the database and is very interesting, will be running a save on it at some point in the future. As for this story what can I say. Really do love doing these sort myself. Looking forward to seeing how it pans out

Nice to see you showing your support as always, Mark. I did think of your 2014 World Cup story when I started this up - along the lines of what Neil said earlier, it's great to see the lesser-fancied nations get their time in the limelight, and I felt your story did that reasonably well.

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Preliminary Round, Leg 2 Results

11 August 2015

São Tomé & Príncipe vs Cook Islands - at Estádio 12 de Julho, São Tomé

This second leg didn't serve up quite as much entertainment as the first, but there were still plenty of goals on show. Marcos Barbeiro opened the scoring from long range after almost exactly five minutes to give São Tomé & Príncipe a 6-3 aggregate lead. The Cook Islands really needed to get on the board as quickly as possible, but with 19-year-old Maro Bonsu-Maro not on form, they would have to look elsewhere for goals. After 43 minutes, James Nand - a man twice Bonsu-Maro's age - showed the youngsters how it was done with a coolly-taken equaliser from a tight angle. That gave the Cook Islands a glimmer of hope, but Luís Leal took it away again with a superb strike for São Tomé & Príncipe in the 58th minute. Silva, who'd created both of the Seleção's earlier goals, then scored one himself in the 76th minute to condemn the Cook Islands - and their young Welsh coach Drew Sherman - to an early exit.

São Tomé & Príncipe - 3 (Marcos Barbeiro 5, Luís Leal 58, Silva 76)

Cook Islands - 1 (James Nand 43)

[São Tomé & Príncipe win 8-3 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Silva (São Tomé & Príncipe, AM R/ST C - Cinfaes)

 

Maldives vs Papua New Guinea - at Galolhu Rasmee Dhandu, Malé

Having a player called Spain in their team should've boded well for Papua New Guinea's hopes of pulling back a 2-0 first-leg deficit. After 29 minutes, left-winger Aaron Spain scooped over a potential chance to halve the Maldivians' lead. Not to worry, though, because a minute later, Spain sent in an outswinging cross that was headed home by Wira Wama. The Kapuls were now within one more goal of parity, and they almost got it in the 40th minute. Unfortunately, Tommy Semmy's volley clipped the post before being cleared by Maldives centre-back Ahmed Afradh. Meanwhile, PNG goalkeeper Leslie Kalai did his utmost to prevent the Red Snappers from breaking through his goal and killing off his team's chances for good. Alas, his heroics would be for nought, as Papua New Guinea were unable to score again and were eliminated.

Maldives - 0

Papua New Guinea - 1 (Wira Wama 30)

[Maldives win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Leslie Kalai (Papua New Guinea, GK - Hekari United)

 

Pakistan vs Vanuatu - at Karachi National Stadium, Karachi

A fragile Pakistani lead from the first leg was bolstered nine minutes into the rematch. M Adil's free-kick was headed home by Samar Ishaq, but Vanuatu goalkeeper Chikau Mansale really could've done a better job of trying to save it. He redeemed himself somewhat by tipping over a 25th-minute half-volley from Nasarullah Khan. On 59 minutes, Pakistan keeper Jaffar Khan turned behind a Dominique Fred volley that could've got Vanuatu back in contention. By the 81st minute, though, the outcome was no longer in doubt. Kaleemullah had missed a host of Pakistani chances before sealing their progress by sliding in Nabil Aslam's first-time cross.

Pakistan - 2 (Samar Ishaq 9, Kaleemullah 81)

Vanuatu - 0

[Pakistan win 5-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: M Adil (Pakistan, AM C - Dordoy Bishkek)

 

Mauritius vs Turks & Caicos Islands - at Stade George V, Curepipe

Mauritius stunned Turks & Caicos Islands with a fantastic counter-attack in the 12th minute. Goalkeeper Andy Sophie's clearance went all the way to Gary Noel just outside the Turks & Caicos area, and Noel jinked past defender James Gibson before unleashing an excellent finish. Four minutes after that, Noel teed up another fine Mauritian goal, struck from 25 yards by Arassen Ragaven. The woodwork prevented Gurty Calambe from continuing Les Dodos' surge in the 19th minute, although he would find the net just before half-time. Calambe had a shot parried by James Johnson five minutes into the second period, but Noel converted the follow-up to effectively book Mauritius' date with Tanzania in Round 1. An 86th-minute consolation goal from Turks & Caicos Islands midfielder James Glinton proved academic.

Mauritius - 4 (Gary Noel 12,50, Arassen Ragaven 16, Gurty Calambe 43)

Turks & Caicos Islands - 1 (James Glinton 86)

[Mauritius win 6-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Gary Noel (Mauritius, ST C/AM C - First Vienna 1894)

 

Cayman Islands vs Andorra - at Truman Bodden, George Town

Cayman Islands tried to bounce back from three goals down on home soil, but this would not be their day. Jorronie McLean fired a fantastic chance straight into Andorra keeper José Antonio Gomes' hands after 16 minutes. Demion Williams also wasted an opportunity in the 36th minute before the Caymans finally struck gold in the 56th minute through Theron Wood. As soon as they took the lead in the second leg, however, the hosts ran out of steam. Gabriel Riera hit the post for Andorra in the 72nd minute as he looked to finish the Caymans off. That was precisely what he did six minute from time, with a clever cut into the corner sending the Tricolors through.

Cayman Islands - 1 (Theron Wood 56)

Andorra - 1 (Gabriel Riera 84)

[Andorra win 4-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Gabriel Riera (Andorra, ST C - UE Santa Coloma)

 

San Marino vs Tuvalu - at San Marino Stadium, Serravalle

It was clear to see here that San Marino were still reeling from their surprise defeat in Tuvalu four days earlier. Their strikers just couldn't get going at all against a Tuvalu side who looked happy to grind out a goalless draw that would see them into the next round. Goalkeeper Malona Ofati produced four saves, while defenders Imo Fiamalua and Naisali Moeaga made a shedload of interceptions to keep the Sammarinese waiting for a goal that wouldn't come. Even against another so-called minnow, La Serenissima had still come up short.

San Marino - 0

Tuvalu - 0

[Tuvalu win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Imo Fiamalua (Tuvalu, D RC/WB R - Nanumaga)

 

Macau vs Guadeloupe - at Estádio Campo Desportivo, Macau

Macau were 'only' 3-0 down after their away leg, but their gameplan fell apart spectacularly at home. Brice Jovial's 11th-minute strike opened the floodgates nice and wide for Guadeloupe. Three minutes after setting up that opening goal, Claudio Beauvue scored one himself, placing the ball into the far corner. Grégory Gendrey joined his colleagues on the scoreboard after 27 minutes, sending Elliot Grandin's free-kick into the net. Jovial then slid in another Beauvue cross six minutes later as the Greens looked on enviously. Macau's humiliation continued with another Grandin assist in the 49th minute - for Livio Nabab - and an exquisite Beauvue free-kick in the 56th. Les Gwada Boys wreaked yet more havoc on 68 minutes, with Nabab heading in Eric Marester's delivery to the back post. The magnificent Guadeloupeans finished off with a 7-0 win on the night - and a 10-0 victory on aggregate! Liberia had been warned.

Macau - 0

Guadeloupe - 7 (Brice Jovial 11,33, Claudio Beauvue 14,56, Grégory Gendrey 27, Livio Nabab 49,68)

[Guadeloupe win 10-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Claudio Beauvue (Guadeloupe, AM R/ST C - Celta Vigo)

 

Yemen vs Somalia - at Al-Thawra Sports City Stadium, Sana'a

Somalia would come to rue an early miss from former Juventus striker Ayub Daud, who blazed the ball over the bar in the 10th minute. By the 19th minute, they were trailing to a goal from Yemen left-winger Fuad Al-Omaisi. Yemen's right-winger threatened to score four minutes later, but Mohammad Abdillahi saved his free-kick. The Somalian keeper also blocked the follow-up shot from Ayman Al-Hagri before Akram Abdul Jabar made it third time lucky. Yemen had doubled their lead from the first leg, and Al-Omaisi had several opportunities to further improve their position in the first half. Al-Omaisi would score again in the 77th minute, converting Wahid Al-Khyat's free-kick to cap off a red letter day for the men in red. Somalia's Ocean Stars sank without a trace.

Yemen - 3 (Fuad Al-Omaisi 19,77, Akram Abdul Jabar 23)

Somalia - 0

[Yemen win 5-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Fuad Al-Omaisi (Yemen, M L - Al-Nahda)

 

Nepal vs Mongolia - at Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, Kathmandu

The Red Army of Mongolia faced a real uphill battle in the Himalayas as soon as Benjamin Bhandari gave Nepal a 5-1 aggregate lead in the 23rd minute. Bhandari's initial shot from Shekhar Nepali's centre was blocked by Mongolian keeper Tuvshin Enhjargal, but the second comfortably found the net. The Mongols' attempts to slow the game down then fell apart as Nepal struck again after 35 minutes. Nepali was the architect again, with his through-ball being buried into the net by Bal Gopal Bista. The Gorkhalis then took it easy for a while before rubbing more salt into Mongolian wounds in the 77th minute. Anil Gurung followed up his four-goal display from the first leg by firing Sandeep Kunwar's long ball into the net and completing a comfortable win for Nepal.

Nepal - 3 (Benjamin Bhandari 23, Bal Gopal Bista 35, Anil Gurung 77)

Mongolia - 0

[Nepal win 7-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sandeep Kunwar (Nepal, M C - unattached)

 

Chinese Taipei vs Gibraltar - at Chungcheng Stadium, Kaohsiung

Early saves from Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Lu Kun-chi - to deny Gibraltar midfielders Anthony Garcia and Anthony Hernandez - would prove vital in the context of this match. An even more important moment came in the 29th minute, when Chen Hao-wei's cross found Onur Dogan in Gibraltar's six-yard box. Goalkeeper Jordan Perez did his best to save Dogan's shot, but he could only look on in horror as his centre-back Kenneth Chipolina knocked the ball across the line in a vain attempt to clear it. That was a massive stroke of fortune for Chinese Taipei, who continued to ride their luck throughout this match. Lu had to keep out another Gibraltarian attempt, from Adam Priestley, late in the first half, and he then produced a couple more vital saves on the other side of the break. One away goal would've sent Gibraltar through, but the home defence held firm to earn Chinese Taipei a Round 1 tie against Malta.

Chinese Taipei - 1 (Kenneth Chipolina og29)

Gibraltar - 0

[Chinese Taipei win 1-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Lu Kun-chi (Chinese Taipei, GK - Taiwan Power Company)

 

Montserrat vs Northern Mariana Islands - at Blakes Estate, St John's

Lyle Taylor put Montserrat firmly on course for Round 1 with his third goal of the tie after five minutes. Joe Wang Miller retaliated for the Northern Mariana Islands almost exactly a minute later, but an exciting second leg was only just beginning. After 35 minutes, Taylor's header from Terrell Remy's cross made it 2-1 to Montserrat on the night and 4-1 on aggregate. A couple of minutes later, the Blue Ayuyus claimed a second equaliser through Norman Mafnas. However, NMI would find themselves trailing again almost straight away, as Taylor set up Calvin Wright for the Emerald Boys' third goal of the first half. The second half wasn't quite so fast-paced, and when Taylor sealed his hat-trick in the 63rd minute, the tie was virtually over. The Northern Mariana Islands had gone out, though not without a bit of a fight.

Montserrat - 4 (Lyle Taylor 5,35,63, Calvin Wright 38)

Northern Mariana Islands - 2 (Joe Wang Miller 6, Norman Mafnas 37)

[Montserrat win 6-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Lyle Taylor (Montserrat, ST C - AFC Wimbledon)

 

Chad vs Djibouti - at Stade National, N'Djamena

Despite holding a 3-0 aggregate lead, Chad banged on Djibouti's door for much of the opening half-hour without success. When a clumsy back-pass from right-back Azrack Mahamat gifted Mohammed Mohamed a shock opener for Djibouti in the 36th minute, some home fans began to fear a capitulation. Those thoughts did not last for very long. A little over two minutes after going behind, Karl Max calmly pulled Les Sao level with a header from Samuel Betina's delivery. Chad would go on to control the second half, despite losing midfielder Rodrigue N'Doram to a thigh injury early on. They rubber-stamped their progress with four minutes to go, as Ezechiel Ndouassel powered Mahamat's cross home to sink Djibouti's Shoremen of the Red Sea.

Chad - 2 (Karl Max 38, Ezechiel Ndouassel 86)

Djibouti - 1 (Mohammed Mohamed 36)

[Chad win 5-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Mohammed Mohamed (Djibouti, ST C - unattached)

Edited by CFuller

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Preliminary Round, Leg 2 Results

12 August 2015

Bangladesh vs Fiji - at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka

Bangladesh had a slight advantage through playing the second leg at home, and Abdul Baten Majumder Komol wasted a great chance to give them the outright lead in the 12th minute. Fiji's first clear-cut oppportunity would come five minutes into the second half. Osea Vakatalesau nodded the ball on to Meli Codro, who slotted the ball past Bangladesh keeper Shahidul Alam Sohel. That goal put Fiji in the box seat, and goalie Radike Ulaiasi Seruvatu kept them there in the 72nd minute, when he comfortably held onto a weak effort from Jamal Bhuyan. The Bengal Tigers couldn't bite back, and they were fatally wounded when Sohel broke his collarbone in a collision with Fiji striker Roy Krishna in the 78th minute. Bangladesh had to finish the match with just 10 men, and an outfielder in goal. Unsurprisingly, the Bula Boys were able to see the game out and book their place in Round 1.

Bangladesh - 0

Fiji - 1 (Meli Codro 50)

[Fiji win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Malakai Tiwa (Fiji, M C/AM R - Ba)

 

Seychelles vs Eritrea - at Stade Linité, Roche Caiman

When the first half passed by without any goals, it seemed that Eritrea were about to cause an upset and knock out the Seychelles. The second half put those thoughts to bed. Seychelles playmaker Achille Henriette swung in a deep cross to Dine Suzette, who tucked it away to level the aggregate scoreline. Four minutes later, Suzette was celebrating putting the Pirates in front. His volley from Benoit Marie's delivery dealt a devastating blow to the plucky Eritreans, who never really recovered. Seychelles left-back Leroy Mathiot really rubbed it in with another goal in injury time that secured the Pirates' spot in the next round, but the Red Sea Boys of Eritrea did not look like landlubbers by any means.

Seychelles - 3 (Dine Suzette 47,51, Leroy Mathiot 90)

Eritrea - 0

[Seychelles win 3-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Benoit Marie (Seychelles, D R - Côte d'Or)

 

Solomon Islands vs Martinique - at Lawson Tama Stadium, Honiara

This may have been a Solomon Islands home game, but it felt more like it was being played at Fort-de-France. Martinique took just four minutes to settle in, with Geoffrey Malfleury firing home a 25-yarder to get them off the mark. Malfleury was unlucky to hit the woodwork two minutes later, but he did get on the scoresheet again in the 14th minute, tapping in Mickaël Alphonse's delivery. Malfleury also demonstrated his creative skills in the 28th minute with a smart through-ball for Wilfried Louisy-Daniel. The Bonitos' first half from hell ended after 41 minutes with a fourth Martinique goal - and a hat-trick from the magnificent Malfleury. The second half was also a shocker for the Solomon Islands for a different reason. They had five different players booked after the interval, racking up six yellow cards and 18 fouls in total. As for their efforts going forward, Andrew Abba blasted wide their one and only shot in the 79th minute. It seemed appropriate that Abba was playing for a New Zealand club called Stop Out, because the Solomons' charge had stopped, and they were heading straight out!

Solomon Islands - 0

Martinique - 4 (Geoffrey Malfleury 4,14,41, Wilfried Louisy-Daniel 28)

[Martinique win 6-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Geoffrey Malfleury (Martinique, AM/ST C - Tours)

 

Laos vs British Virgin Islands - at Chao Anouvong Stadium, Vientiane

Laos' first-leg lead was strengthened two minutes into the second leg by Lamnao Singto, who fired in another fine cross from chief creator Billy Ketkeo. That was not a great start for the British Virgin Islands, although Estavan Jefferson briefly revived their hopes with a headed equaliser on 20 minutes. The Nature Boyz were soon trailing again, though. A slip from defender Lyndon Remy saw Singto's cutback find its way to Visay Phaphouvanin, who all but sealed Laos' place in Round 1 with a poacher's finish in the 33rd minute. There was still plenty of time for the game to turn around, but when Jefferson tore his hamstring in a 61st-minute collision with Laotian defender Khamphoumy Hanvilay, BVI's dreams were torn to shreds.

Laos - 2 (Lamnao Singto 2, Visay Phaphouvanin 33)

British Virgin Islands - 1 (Estavan Jefferson 20)

[Laos win 5-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Billy Ketkeo (Laos, AM/M R - Angers)

 

Brunei vs Anguilla - at Negara Hassanal Bolkiah, Bandar Seri Begawan

Although they trailed 2-0 from the first leg, Anguilla's luck appeared to turn early in the second meeting. They took the lead after only six minutes, when Brunei defender Muhd Syamim Zainun's attempted clearance from a Denville Griffith cross somehow looped into his own net. In the 16th minute, though, Brunei's brothers in arms got them back on terms. Mohd Hardi Bujang's weighted pass was drilled home by Mohd Mardi Bujang, and Wasps fans could breathe a little easier. That was until Zainun suffered another calamity in the 36th minute. Anguilla forward Gaekwad Paris ran onto a Griffith cross and knocked his first touch against the post, but the ball then bounced off Zainun's leg and went over the goal line! A second Zainun own goal had put Anguilla within one more strike of taking the lead on away goals! The Caribbean side battled long and hard to try and get it, but some inadequate shooting - they only had two shots on target all game (not including the own goals, obviously) - left them kicking themselves at the final whistle. Despite having a poor game, Brunei had been let off the hook.

Brunei - 1 (Mohd Mardi Bujang 16)

Anguilla - 2 (Muhd Syamim Zainun og6,og36)

[Brunei win 3-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Denville Griffith (Anguilla, D L - unattached)

 

Cambodia vs Bahamas - at Stade National, Phnom Penh

Cambodia took some large strides towards Round 1 with a very dominant first-half display. Khoun Laboravy got them off the mark in the fifth minute, having been played through on goal by Khim Borey. Those two would show good teamwork again in the 38th minute, with Khoun selflessly cutting the ball across the six-yard box for Khim to finish. Keo Sokpheng made it 3-0 three minutes later, leaving the Bahamas needing to score six goals in the second half to get back in contention. The Baha Boyz did get one back when Dwayne Forbes finished off a Michael Bethel shot that had rebounded off the post. Unfortunately, it was in the 74th minute, so that goal was virtually meaningless, as was a second consolation from Shemord Thompson later on.

Cambodia - 3 (Khoun Laboravy 5, Khim Borey 38, Keo Sokpheng 41)

Bahamas - 2 (Dwayne Forbes 74, Shemord Thompson 85)

[Cambodia win 6-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Tith Dina (Cambodia, D/WB L - National Police Commissary)

 

US Virgin Islands vs American Samoa - at Lionel Roberts Stadium, Charlotte Amalie

An early Bryan Kaza-Amlak goal had given the US Virgin Islands the edge in the first leg, and the rematch started in a similar fashion. Kaza-Amlak's finish from Carlos Mathurin's deep cross sent the Dashing Eagle soaring towards the next round. Mamadee Nyepon briefly made it more interesting by drawing American Samoa level on 37 minutes, but Aaron Dennis reinstated the hosts lead from a breakaway move five minutes later. Then, in the 55th minute, Roy Luani headed in Panwechi Kaleopa's corner for American Samoa. One more goal for the visitors would've put them on course for a surprise qualification to Round 1. There was indeed one more goal... but it was for Kaza-Amlak and the US Virgin Islands in the 74th minute. A lovely header meant that the Virgin Islanders had won the battle of the American territories.

US Virgin Islands - 3 (Bryan Kaza-Amlak 4,74, Aaron Dennis 42)

American Samoa - 2 (Mamadee Nyepon 37, Roy Luani 55)

[US Virgin Islands win 4-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Bryan Kaza-Amlak (US Virgin Islands, ST C - unattached)

 

Comoros vs Réunion - at Stade de Beaumer, Moroni

In the 11th minute, Comoros captain Nadjim Abdou played a wonderful ball to Kassim Abdallah in space, and then watched the full-back smack in an even better finish. It was not the ideal start at all for Réunion, whose left-winger Alexis Siala-Chamba came off with concussion in the 22nd minute after colliding with Mohamed M'Changama. Réunion's attempts to draw level would be unsuccessful, and their job would be made all the more difficult after 48 minutes. M'Changama nodded Mohamed Youssouf's corner to the far post, where Ibrahim Rachidi headed in a second Comoran goal. On 56 minutes, Abdallah sliced the ball through a chaotic Réunion defence to set up an easy finish for Youssouf. It was all going swimmingly for Les Coelecantes, and there would be no party for Réunion's class of 2015/2016.

Comoros - 3 (Kassim Abdallah 11, Ibrahim Rachidi 48, Mohamed Youssouf 56)

Réunion - 0

[Comoros win 4-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Kassim Abdallah (Comoros, D/WB R - Évian Thonon Gaillard)

 

Dominica vs Tonga - at Windsor Park, Roseau

While the first leg of this tie lacked goals, the second certainly didn't. After a tense start, it was Dominica who struck the first blow. One sloppy pass from Tongan midfielder Viliami Vaitaki started a 16th-minute Dominican counter-attack that ended with Julian Wade finding the net. Tonga's problems worsened when left-back Maika Taufahema twisted his ankle, although he defied the injury and played on for the full 90 minutes. A shaky defence was opened up again by a cross from Curtis Doran in the 48th minute, but Mel Wilson's finish for Dominica was ruled out for offside. Tonga were let off, and a stunning strike from Penisimani Pau on 63 minutes not only levelled the scores, but put the Oceanian side ahead on away goals! They would need every ounce of defensive strength to see the job through... but that wasn't quite enough. As the game entered injury time and approached a grandstand finish, Wade cut the ball across the Tongan goalmouth. Francis Falconer then shot past a hampered Taufahema to prod the ball home, thus leaving scores of Dominicans delighted and many Tongans devastated.

Dominica - 2 (Julian Wade 16, Francis Falconer 90)

Tonga - 1 (Penisimani Pau 63)

[Dominica win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Penisimani Pau (Tonga, M C - 'Ahau)

 

Tahiti vs South Sudan - at Stade Olympique, Papeete

Tahiti were feeling the tension early in the home leg of their Preliminary Round tie. Raïmana Li Fung Kuee should've given them the lead on nine minutes, but South Sudan goalkeeper Roy Golwaq pushed his shot behind. An early goal would've settled any Tahitian nerves, as South Sudan only needed to find the net once to level the aggregate scores. Near-namesakes Dominic Aboy and Dominic Aboi each had chances to do just that, but this would be a night of immense frustration for the Tigers. After 18 attempts at goal without success, the visitors were undone by some far from impressive defending two minutes from time. Centre-back Richard Justin Lado was easily outpaced by Tahitian forward Lorenzo Tehau, who ran onto Heimana Paama's through-ball and fired Toa Aito into the next phase.

Tahiti - 1 (Lorenzo Tehau 88)

South Sudan - 0

[Tahiti win 2-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Heimana Paama (Tahiti, M/AM RC - AS Piraé)

 

Bhutan vs French Guiana - at Changlimithang, Thimphu

The first goal of a match crammed with them came in the 24th minute. Kévin Rimane made the most of Anthony Soubervie's free-kick delivery to increase French Guiana's aggregate lead to 4-0. Five minutes later, the visitors were even closer to booking their Round 4 spot. Soubervie did the damage again, with his cross being diverted into the net by the unfortunate Bhutanese defender Tashi Togbay. Biren Basnet got a goal back for Bhutan almost straight away, but the Dragon Boys' dreams of going through were now all but fantasy. They had even more bad fortune in the 53rd minute, with French Guiana striker Marc-Antoine Fortuné finding an open goal after his team-mate Rimane's shot had been parried by Ngawang Jamphel. Yeshey Dorji did score Bhutan's second goal on 77 minutes, but their time in the competition was coming to an end. Kévin Fortuné and Sloan Privat each scored for French Guiana in the closing stages, just to make absolutely sure that they would be playing Puerto Rico in Round 1.

Bhutan - 2 (Biren Basnet 30, Yeshey Dorji 77)

French Guiana - 5 (Kévin Rimane 24, Tashi Togbay og29, Marc-Antoine Fortuné 53, Kévin Fortuné 79, Sloan Privat 89)

[French Guiana win 8-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Kévin Rimane (French Guiana, D/DM C - Sedan)

 

Sri Lanka vs Samoa - at Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo

Sri Lanka had some big names in their team, and not many were bigger than Ranasinghe Arachchige Mohamed Irshad. The midfielder made his mark after 32 minutes with an impressive shot into the top corner of the Samoan net. That goal put Sri Lanka on the brink of the next round, although Samoa did their utmost to try and stop them. Captain Desmond Fa'aiuaso was unlucky to be denied a goal by the post in the 63rd minute. Sadly, for Samoa, that would be their best opportunity of the entire match. They went home crestfallen, while the Lankan Lions could now prepare to face Kyrgyzstan in Round 1.

Sri Lanka - 1 (Ranasinghe Arachchige Mohamed Irshad 32)

Samoa - 0

[Sri Lanka win 2-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ranasinghe Arachchige Mohamed Irshad (Sri Lanka, M C - unattached)

Edited by CFuller

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Round 1 Preview

The new World Championship was now well and truly underway, and Round 1 was where it really started to heat up. The 24 survivors from the Preliminary Round were joined by 40 new entrants in September.

 

The standout tie from Round 1 was perhaps a local south-east Asian derby between Laos and Vietnam. There was unlikely to be much love lost when those two went head-to-head.

 

Another south-east Asian team - Myanmar - came into this stage as one of eight unseeded new entries. They would face fellow AFC members Guam, with Sri Lanka vs Kyrgyzstan serving as the other all-Asian tie.

 

Although not exactly close together geographically, Mauritius and Tanzania would renew continental rivalries in Africa. In the Caribbean, meanwhile, the US Virgin Islands would do battle with Curaçao, which was formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles.

 

Indonesia and Aruba also had Dutch colonial histories, and those two would go head-to-head in their respective openers. Suriname - another nation with strong ties to the Netherlands - were looking to cause a minor upset against Turkmenistan, while neighbours Guyana were fancied by more than a few people to surprise Singapore.

 

There were very few observers, however, who gave little East Timor much of a chance against one of the biggest nations in the draw - New Zealand. The Kiwis were one of two teams in Round 1 who had previously competed in the former FIFA World Cup.

 

North Korea had also competed in world football's showpiece event in the past, most notably knocking out Italy en route to the 1966 World Cup Quarter Finals. They would start against rather less glamourous opposition in Fiji.

 

Round 1 would also see the entrance of India - a country of over 1 billion people that had never really embraced football. Indian fans hoped that the new soccer revolution would begin with a good result against the Central African Republic.

 

Surprisingly, four of the seven newest FIFA members had survived the Preliminary Round. They were largely made up of French dependencies, with French Guiana, Guadeloupe and Martinique continuing their respective campaigns against Puerto Rico, Liberia and Kazakhstan.

 

Pacific islanders Tuvalu were the other newcomers who had made it through to Round 1. Their reward for seeing off San Marino was a showdown with another European minnow - Luxembourg. Another OFC member that was perhaps worth keeping an eye on was New Caledonia, who would look to upset Hong Kong.

 

ROUND 1, LEG 1: 4 September 2015

Dominica                             vs      Thailand                            
East Timor                           vs      New Zealand                         
French Guiana                        vs      Puerto Rico                         
Guyana                               vs      Singapore                           
Indonesia                            vs      Aruba                               
Maldives                             vs      Grenada                             
Mauritius                            vs      Tanzania                            
Montserrat                           vs      The Gambia                          
Myanmar                              vs      Guam                                
Nepal                                vs      Georgia                             
São Tomé & Príncipe                  vs      Afghanistan                         
Seychelles                           vs      Tajikistan                          
Sri Lanka                            vs      Kyrgyzstan                          
Suriname                             vs      Turkmenistan                        
Tuvalu                               vs      Luxembourg                          
US Virgin Islands                    vs      Curaçao                             

ROUND 1, LEG 1: 5 September 2015

Andorra                              vs      Bermuda                              
Brunei                               vs      Barbados                            
Cambodia                             vs      Swaziland                           
Central African Republic             vs      India                                
Chad                                 vs      Lesotho                             
Chinese Taipei                       vs      Malta                               
Comoros                              vs      Mauritania                           
Fiji                                 vs      North Korea                         
Guadeloupe                           vs      Liberia                             
Laos                                 vs      Vietnam                              
Malaysia                             vs      Guinea-Bissau                       
Martinique                           vs      Kazakhstan                          
New Caledonia                        vs      Hong Kong                           
Pakistan                             vs      Burundi                             
Tahiti                               vs      Liechtenstein                       
Yemen                                vs      Nicaragua                           

ROUND 1, LEG 2: 8 September 2015

Afghanistan                          vs      São Tomé & Príncipe                 
Aruba                                vs      Indonesia                           
Curaçao                              vs      US Virgin Islands                    
Georgia                              vs      Nepal                               
Grenada                              vs      Maldives                            
Guam                                 vs      Myanmar                             
Kyrgyzstan                           vs      Sri Lanka                           
Luxembourg                           vs      Tuvalu                              
New Zealand                          vs      East Timor                          
Puerto Rico                          vs      French Guiana                       
Singapore                            vs      Guyana                              
Tajikistan                           vs      Seychelles                          
Tanzania                             vs      Mauritius                           
Thailand                             vs      Dominica                            
The Gambia                           vs      Montserrat                          
Turkmenistan                         vs      Suriname                            

ROUND 1, LEG 2: 9 September 2015

Barbados                             vs      Brunei                               
Bermuda                              vs      Andorra                             
Burundi                              vs      Pakistan                            
Guinea-Bissau                        vs      Malaysia                            
Hong Kong                            vs      New Caledonia                       
India                                vs      Central African Republic            
Kazakhstan                           vs      Martinique                          
Lesotho                              vs      Chad                                
Liberia                              vs      Guadeloupe                          
Liechtenstein                        vs      Tahiti                              
Malta                                vs      Chinese Taipei                      
Mauritania                           vs      Comoros                             
Nicaragua                            vs      Yemen                               
North Korea                          vs      Fiji                                
Swaziland                            vs      Cambodia                            
Vietnam                              vs      Laos                                

Edited by CFuller

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Advance warning, guys. You might have to wait until tomorrow for the Round 1, Leg 1 results.

I've got a long trip (3-4 hours) from Romford to Telford this morning, and I'd like to watch as much of the England-Wales and Ukraine-NI games as possible before I go out for dinner with my sister and her fiancé's family in the evening. With such a busy day ahead of me, I probably won't have time to post anything else today.

An overall okay round. CFuller could you maybe use a different colour for upsets?

Respectfully, Sankalan, I'm going to say no. I'd like my readers to work out for themselves which results are the more surprising, and I'd like to assume most of them can - up until Round 6, the higher-ranked nation will always be at home in the second leg. Also, a result that might constitute an 'upset' to one fan might not surprise another.

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Round 1, Leg 1 Results

4 September 2015

Suriname vs Turkmenistan - at André Kamperveen Stadium, Paramaribo

Turkmenistan's wingers combined to give them the lead after 14 minutes. Artur Geworkyan crossed from the right to find Ruslan Mingazov, who volleyed the ball into the net from just outside the six-yard box. Another Mingazov volley narrowly cleared the bar in the 18th minute. Suriname then suffered a blow when midfielder Galgyto Strijder came off with a knock five minutes before half-time. Three minutes later, though, they were back level, as Nigel Hasselbaink's cross was headed in off the bar by Stefano Rijssel. The game remained very nicely poised until Turkmenistan went ahead again on 71 minutes. Didargylyç Urazow slipped a Mingazov through-ball into the net to give the Central Asian side a narrow advantage as they headed into the second leg.

Suriname - 1 (Stefano Rijssel 43)

Turkmenistan - 2 (Ruslan Mingazov 14, Didargylyç Urazow 71)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ruslan Mingazov (Turkmenistan, AM/M RL - FK Jablonec)

 

Sri Lanka vs Kyrgyzstan - at Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo

By the end of this match, Kyrgyzstan fans must have been wondering how on Earth their team hadn't won. The White Falcons had 22 shots at goal against their Sri Lankan hosts... but were only on target with four of them. Frontman Ahletdin Israilov and midfielder Viktor Maier were particularly disappointed, having each missed mutiple opportunities. Sri Lanka goalkeeper Vidanage Asanka Viraj did his bit by making a few good saves, but after facing a barrage of shots, he and his defenders were very relieved not to have conceded any goals by full-time.

Sri Lanka - 0

Kyrgyzstan - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Anton Zemlianukhin (Kyrgyzstan, AM RC/M RC - Sisaket)

 

French Guiana vs Puerto Rico - at Stade de Baduel, Cayenne

Puerto Rico goalkeeper Josh Saunders was beaten for the first time after just 10 minutes. Loïc Baal drilled in an excellent delivery from Anthony Soubervie to get French Guiana off to a great start. Soubervie created their second goal as well, cutting the ball across for Roy Contout to finish after 32 minutes. Saunders and co continued to come under pressure from French Guiana, who were unlucky not to score again when Michael Solvi struck the crossbar in the 38th minute. Contout also hit the bar in the first minute of the second period... but his header went in off the underside! Contout then fired wide a couple of opportunities to seal a hat-trick before French Guiana settled for what was already a comfortable 3-0 lead. Puerto Rico's biggest threat to their clean sheet was a Héctor Ramos shot that was saved by Donovan Léon on 79 minutes.

French Guiana - 3 (Loïc Baal 10, Roy Contout 32,46)

Puerto Rico - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Roy Contout (French Guiana, AM R/ST C - RS Berkane)

 

Seychelles vs Tajikistan - at Stade Linité, Roche Caiman

Manuchehr Jalilov went within inches of giving Tajikistan the opening goal after seven minutes. Gino Agathine did find the net for the Seychelles on 18 minutes... but he was caught in an offside position when Benoit Marie crossed to him at the back post. Both sides continued to spurn opportunities, with Seychelles captain Dino Suzette hitting the crossbar after 61 minutes and Tajikistan's Davronjon Tuhtasunov finding the bar after 79. The breakthrough would come in the penultimate minute of normal time, as the Persian Lions' decision to throw all caution to the wind paid off. Rahmatullo Fuzaylov found Tuhtasunov with an inspired cross, and the striker did the rest to make it 1-0 Tajikistan after the first leg.

Seychelles - 0

Tajikistan - 1 (Davronjon Tuhtasunov 89)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Rahmatullo Fuzaylov (Tajikistan, D/WB R - CSKA-Pomir Dushanbe)

 

Myanmar vs Guam - at Bogyoke Aung San Stadium, Yangon

Myanmar made a flying start, but a combination of poor shooting and some strong Guam defending kept them at bay in the first half. Goalkeeper Doug Herrick looked in fine fettle for Guam, who threatened to take the lead through Jason Cunliffe in the 58th minute. Thi Ha Si Thu's save for Myanmar would be a big moment, but not as big as when the White Angels finally scored after 67 minutes. Kyaw Zayar Win's right-wing cross found Mai Aih Naing, who took two attempts to get the better of Herrick. He would beat Herrick again seven minutes later, as a half-volley from captain Moe Win's direct ball secured a 2-0 win for the Burmese.

Myanmar - 2 (Mai Aih Naing 67,74)

Guam - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Mai Aih Naing (Myanmar, ST C - Shan United)

 

São Tomé & Príncipe vs Afghanistan - at Estádio 12 de Julho, São Tomé

São Tomé & Príncipe were on top for much of the first period and could consider themselves unlucky not to have scored. Afghanistan also attacked from time to time, but striker Mohammad Reza and midfielder Zubayr Amiri each had a couple of woeful misses. Things didn't get much better from the Afghans after 70 minutes, when defender Sayed Maqsood pushed Harramiz in the penalty area. Luís Leal stepped up to take the penalty for the Seleção... and Hamidullah Yosufzai pushed it away. Yosufzai also saved another attempt from Leal in the 76th minute, but the Afghanistan keeper would finally be beaten after 81 minutes. Leal's through-ball was finished by Harramiz, and it was advantage São Tomé & Príncipe after the first leg.

São Tomé & Príncipe - 1 (Harramiz 81)

Afghanistan - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Harramiz (São Tomé & Príncipe, AM R/ST C - Farense)

 

Indonesia vs Aruba - at Gelora Bung Karno, Jakarta

Indonesia suffered a devastating blow when captain Boaz broke his ankle in a tackle from Aruba defender Francois Croes after two minutes. Losing a key striker so early on clearly affected the Garuda, who would have 16 shots at goal in this game but only force visiting goalkeeper Jeffrey Werleman into one solitary save. Boaz' replacement Titus Bonai had that solitary shot on target, but neither he nor any of Indonesia's attacking players could find their range. Aruba weren't a great deal better, although they did make the decisive breakthrough after 64 minutes. Joshua John played the ball ahead of Jelano Cruden, who cut his shot past Indonesian keeper Kurnia Meiga and into the net. On the balance of play, Aruba were perhaps deserving winners.

Indonesia - 0

Aruba - 1 (Jelano Cruden 64)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Francois Croes (Aruba, D C - SV Estrella)

 

US Virgin Islands vs Curaçao - at Lionel Roberts Stadium, Charlotte Amalie

The US Virgin Islands faced a deluge of early Curaçao attacks, particularly from Prince Rajcomar. After two unsuccessful attempts at goal, the third proved to be the charm for Rajcomar, who opened the scoring from a tight angle after 12 minutes. The hosts' goalkeeper/captain Dillon Pieffer was struggling to cope with this prolonged Curaçaoan onslaught, and he conceded again after 44 minutes. Rajcomar exploited a sluggish Virgin Islands defence to finish Papito Merencia's cross and make it 2-0. Merencia had set up both of Rajcomar's goals, and he claimed a third assist after 53 minutes, when his free-kick was volleyed in by Southampton defender Cuco Martina. The US Virgin Islands then pushed forward to try and claim a consolation goal, with Aaron Dennis getting one in the 85th minute after his fellow striker Clifford Fuller had missed several chances. Despite that, Curaçao would have the last say through Israeli-based substitute Gianluca Maria, who secured a 4-1 win for the visitors.

US Virgin Islands - 1 (Aaron Dennis 85)

Curaçao - 4 (Prince Rajcomar 12,44, Cuco Martina 53, Gianluca Maria 88)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Papito Merencia (Curaçao, D/WB/M L - ADO Den Haag)

 

Tuvalu vs Luxembourg - at Tuvalu Sports Ground, Funafuti

Tuvalu found out very quickly just how big a step up Luxembourg were in comparison to San Marino. A clumsy challenge from defender Naisali Moeaga on David Caiado in the seventh minute saw Luxembourg awarded a penalty, which Lars Christian Krogh Gerson powered home. The Red Lions were already roaring loudly and proudly, and they were all set to run the show. Tuvalu goalkeeper Malona Ofati defied the visitors with a number of strong saves, but Luxembourg would break through again in the 58th minute. Daniel da Mota had a shot parried by Ofati, and his follow-up rebounded off the post to Sanel Ibrahimović, who did make it 2-0. Maurice Deville completed the scoring after 81 minutes to put Luxembourg in a very commanding position. This was a chastening experience for Tuvalu, who conceded 19 fouls and couldn't muster a single shot at goal, let alone on target.

Tuvalu - 0

Luxembourg - 3 (Lars Christian Krogh Gerson pen6, Sanel Ibrahimović 58, Maurice Deville 81)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Daniel da Mota (Luxembourg, AM RL/M L - F91 Dudelange)

 

Montserrat vs The Gambia - at Blakes Estate, St John's

On the basis of the first 10 minutes, this looked like being a thriller. The Gambia struck first after three minutes, with Modou Barrow volleying in Demba Savage's right-wing cross. That lead lasted just seven minutes before Michael Williams drew Montserrat back level. Surprisingly, though, the remaining 80 minutes would not see any more goals. The Gambia had a multitude of opportunities to move ahead again, but they just couldn't take them. Swansea City striker Barrow had eight unsuccessful attempts following his goal, including a header that clipped the bar on 38 minutes. Meanwhile, winger Mustapha Carayol was unlucky to be denied three times early in the second half by Emerald Boys keeper Andrew Maede. Montserrat rode their luck at times before claiming a very respectable 1-1 draw.

Montserrat - 1 (Michael Williams 10)

The Gambia - 1 (Modou Barrow 3)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Kebba Ceesay (The Gambia, D RC/WB R - Lech Poznan)

 

Guyana vs Singapore - at Cricket Ground, Georgetown

It certainly helps when you can call upon a Premier League striker in Round 1. Guyana took advantage of Cameron Jerome's ancestry to call up the Norwich City frontman, who scored their opening goal after 26 minutes. He headed home an excellent cross from another stalwart of the English top flight - winger Jerome Thomas. Thomas later suffered a bruised thigh, although that didn't hamper the Golden Jaguars too much as they saw the match through and took a narrow lead into the second leg. Singapore had tried their hardest to claim an equaliser, but attacking midfielder Shahdan Sulaiman had three shots saved by Guyanese keeper Andrew Durant. Sulaiman was also one of six Lions players who picked up yellow cards in a fiesty encounter that saw three Guyanese stars go into the book as well.

Guyana - 1 (Cameron Jerome 26)

Singapore - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Shaiful Esah (Singapore, D L - Tampines Rovers)

 

Maldives vs Grenada - at Galolhu Rasmee Dhandu, Malé

A strong start from the Maldives saw them take the lead through Ahmed Rasheed in the 13th minute. Grenada goalkeeper Raymond Joseph could only parry Ibrahim Fazeel's shot to Rasheed, who made light work of the follow-up. Thankfully, for Grenada, Joseph made a more convincing save from Hussain Niyaz's half-volley in the 18th minute. He was a much more convincing presence in goal than Maldivian counterpart Imran Mohamed, who palmed an Anthony Straker cross into his own net very early in the second half. Following their surprise equaliser, things almost got spicier for the Spice Boys in the 74th minute. A lightning-quick counter-attack left Kharlton Belmar one-on-one with Mohamed, but the Maldives keeper made two saves in quick succession to leave him frustrated. A very competitive match finished 1-1 on the scoreboard, and 5-4 to the Maldives on the yellow card count.

Maldives - 1 (Ahmed Rasheed 13)

Grenada - 1 (Imran Mohamed og49)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Anthony Straker (Grenada, M/AM/D/WB L - unattached)

 

East Timor vs New Zealand - at National Stadium, Dili

Any team who needs to withstand a barrage of attacks from a much stronger opponent should take a leaf out of East Timor's book. They defended deeply and resolutely to keep New Zealand - and Chris Wood in particular - off the scoresheet. Four of Wood's nine shots at goal were saved by Timorese goalkeeper Emerson, who had the game of his life. Emerson was one of several Brazilian players in the O Sol Nascente team. Two others - Juninho, and Thiago Cunha - each had shots saved either side of the interval by New Zealand captain Glen Moss, who did well to avoid making a poor result even more embarrassing for the All Whites. That said, they really could not afford to slip up at home in the second leg now.

East Timor - 0

New Zealand - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Emerson (East Timor, GK - unattached)

 

Mauritius vs Tanzania - at Stade George V, Curepipe

Abdi Kassam Sadallah provided some early entertainment, as a spectacular half-volley after just 20 seconds almost gave Tanzania a very early lead. The woodwork came to Mauritius' rescue, but the hosts would shoot themselves in the foot soon afterwards. When Juma Jabu's cross was turned in by Mauritian defender Josh Valadon, Tanzania found themselves 1-0 up after a mere eight minutes. The Taifa Stars' confidence shot up, and by the 39th minute, they had an even greater lead. Thomas Ulimwengu took the plaudits with a lethal finish that put Les Dodos well and truly on the endangered list. Mauritian hopes dwindled further with another Ulimwengu goal, set up by Amri Kiemba, in the 64th minute. Gary Noel had rattled the bar four minutes before then with a shot that could've got Mauritius back into the first leg, but now they were facing an almighty struggle to save their World Championship skins.

Mauritius - 0

Tanzania - 3 (Josh Valadon og8, Thomas Ulimwengu 39,64)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Juma Jabu (Tanzania, D R - Simba SC)

 

Nepal vs Georgia - at Dasarath Rangasala Stadium, Kathmandu

Georgia's competition began with a second-minute goal from captain Jaba Kankava, who flicked Tornike Okriashvili's corner into the net. Okriashvili assisted Kankava again in the 16th minute, as the Stade Reims midfielder blasted his pass home from 25 yards. A strong finish from Nepal's captain Jumanu Rai in the 22nd minute briefly raised the Gorkhalis' hopes... but Levan Mchedlidze knocked them down again in the 36th. Valeri Qazaishvili floated an excellent cross to Mchedlidze, who rose above Nepalese right-back Sailesh Maharjan to apply the header. Georgia's crusades continued in the second half, with Nepal and their goalkeeper Bikash Malla having to resort to damage limitation. Malla conceded for a fourth time in the 83rd minute, as Giorgi Chanturia left Nepal needing to climb a proverbial Mount Everest to get past Round 1.

Nepal - 1 (Jumanu Rai 22)

Georgia - 4 (Jaba Kankava 2,16, Levan Mchedlidze 36, Giorgi Chanturia 83)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jaba Kankava (Georgia, DM/M C - Stade Reims)

 

Dominica vs Thailand - at Windsor Park, Roseau

The Dominican post prevented Teerasil Dangda from firing Thailand into the lead after five minutes. There wasn't much that could have saved Dominica, though, when Chanathip Songkrasin flicked a Tristan Do cross into the net after 34 minutes. Thailand's War Elephants were on the warpath, and they stamped their authority on the game just before the hour mark. Sarat Yooyen's 57th-minute finish was followed up three minutes later by a third Thai goal, scored by Dangda. Although Kurlson Benjamin pulled one goal back for Dominica in the 81st minute, the first leg had already been lost. A stirring second-half comeback away from home would be needed if Dominica were to progress any further.

Dominica - 1 (Kurlson Benjamin 81)

Thailand - 3 (Chanathip Songkrasin 34, Sarat Yooyen 57, Teerasil Dangda 60)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sarat Yooyen (Thailand, M/AM C - Muangthong United)

Edited by CFuller

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Round 1, Leg 1 Results

5 September 2015

Tahiti vs Liechtenstein - at Stade Olympique, Papeete

Tahiti very nearly opened the scoring after six minutes, but captain Jonathan Tehau scuffed wide his shot from Jean-Claude Chang's corner. Toa Aito would rue that miss five minuets later, when Niklas Kieber drilled Liechtenstein into the lead. Liechtenstein would finish the first half strongly before starting the second in a similar manner. Only the Tahitian crossbar prevented 17-year-old Kevin Hadzipasic from heading them into a 2-0 lead after 52 minutes. A quarter of an hour later, the game turned again. Rupena Raumati's first-time long ball was met by a spectacular half-volley from Raïmana Li Fung Kuee, and Tahiti were back on level terms... until the 73rd minute. Liechtenstein veteran Franz Burgmeier's centre was slotted into the corner by Philipp Ospelt, who gave the tiny principality a slender first-leg lead.

Tahiti - 1 (Raïmana Li Fung Kuee 67)

Liechtenstein - 2 (Niklas Kieber 11, Philipp Ospelt 73)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Michele Polverino (Liechtenstein, DM/M C - SV Ried)

 

Malaysia vs Guinea-Bissau - at Nasional Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur

Guinea-Bissau had a scare in the sixth minute, when Malaysian full-back Matthew Davies' cross from the right flank clipped the top of their crossbar. By the 33rd minute, the seeds had even more to worry about. Disaster struck when Djurtus goalkeeper Jonas Mendes spilled R Gopinathan's cross to the feet of Muhd Fauzi Roslan, whose finish gave Malaysia the lead at half-time. They would stay in the driving seat until centre-back Mohd Muslim Ahmad clattered into Guinea-Bissau winger Ivanildo in the 67th minute. Sami took the resulting penalty for Guinea-Bissau, and his strike narrowly beat goalkeeper Khairul Fahmie Che Mat. Malaysia would regain their lead on 84 minutes, as Roslan converted Davies' cross to seemingly earn them a home win. Then came a sudden injury-time counter-attack from Guinea-Bissau, who salvaged a draw after Abel Camará prodded Ivanildo's left-wing delivery home.

Malaysia - 2 (Muhd Fauzi Roslan 33,84)

Guinea-Bissau - 2 (Sami pen67, Abel Camará 90)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Muhd Fauzi Roslan (Malaysia, ST C - Pahang)

 

Martinique vs Kazakhstan - at Stade d'Honneur de Dillon, Fort-de-France

Martinique fancied their chances against Kazakhstan, but they didn't count on the visitors finding the net after just four minutes. Fortunately, for Les Matinino, Tanat Nuserbaev had already been flagged offside when he slotted Dmitrii Shonko's cross into the net. The Kazakhs had a narrow escape of their own two minutes later, with Kevin Parsemain hitting the bar for Martinique. A thrilling match saw more chances at both ends, including another Martinique shot that struck the woodwork, before the deadlock was broken on 66 minutes. Although their opponents had enjoyed more shooting opportunities, it was Kazakhstan who took the lead after captain Shonko's cross was finished by Sergei Gridin. The Hawks then went in for the kill, with Aleksei Shchetkin scoring twice in the final three minutes to give them a 3-0 win. Shchetkin had been assisted on each occasion by Bauyrzhan Islamkhan, who ran the show for Kazakhstan from central midfield.

Martinique - 0

Kazakhstan - 3 (Sergei Gridin 66, Aleksei Shchetkin 88,90)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Bauyrzhan Islamkhan (Kazakhstan, AM C - Kairat Almaty)

 

Comoros vs Mauritania - at Stade de Beaumer, Moroni

Mauritania frontman Adama Ba proved to be a real thorn in the Comoros' side early on. Firstly, after 10 minutes, he volleyed in a floated cross from Kévin Malcuit to open the scoring. Ba was on the scoresheet again three minutes after that, as he took advantage of some shaky Comoran defending to convert Dominique da Silva's cross. Ba could easily have finished the first half with a hat-trick, but a trio of misses kept him stuck on two goals. He didn't mind that too much, as the Comoros were much less dangerous when they went forward. Mauritania goalkeeper Souleymane Diallo needed to make just one save, from Djamel Bakar in the 31st minute, on his way to a comfortable clean sheet. Les Coelecantes looked like fish out of water against a far stronger opponent and would surely be heading out barring a second-leg revival.

Comoros - 0

Mauritania - 2 (Adama Ba 10,13)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Adama Ba (Mauritania, AM C/ST C - Auxerre)

 

Chinese Taipei vs Malta - at Banqiao First Sports Ground, Taipei

Two very mediocre teams played out a poor goalless draw that was the defences come out on top. Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Lu Kun-chi only had to make three saves, as did his Maltese counterpart Andrew Hogg. Much of Chinese Taipei's attacking threat - limited as it was - came through some excellent crossing from their right wing-back Xavier Chen. The Belgian-born defender's game came to an acrimonious end after 80 minutes, when a second booking saw him receive the first red card of the World Championship. Despite his dismissal by Croatian referee Ante Zilic, Chen was still named as the man of the match at full-time.

Chinese Taipei - 0

Malta - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Xavier Chen (Chinese Taipei, D/WB R - KV Mechelen)

 

Laos vs Vietnam - at Chao Anouvong Stadium, Vientiane

It was Vietnam who drew first blood six minutes into this derby match. Nigerian-born striker Samson Kayode Olaleye had a header tipped against the crossbar by Sourasay Keosouvandeng, but he converted the follow-up to make it 1-0 Vietnam. However, an incredible 30-yard equaliser from Sourasack Vongsengduan turned the tide in Laos' favour. They would move ahead nine minutes later, with Visay Phaphouvanin's header making it 2-1... temporarily. Olaleye shone brightly again for the Golden Stars of Vietnam with a second goal in the 34th minute. The thrills carried on into the second half, which began encouragingly from a Laotian perspective. Phaphouvanin capped a wonderful attacking move by dispatching Billy Ketkeo's cross to restore his team's advantage. There would, though, be yet another twist in this intriguing tale. On 75 minutes, Vietnam midfielder Johnny Nguyen cleverly flicked the ball ahead of namesake Nguyen Ahn Duc, who scored the game's third and final equaliser.

Laos - 3 (Sourasack Vongsengduan 22, Visay Phaphouvanin 31,55)

Vietnam - 3 (Samson Kayode Olaleye 6,34, Nguyen Ahn Duc 75)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Samson Kayode Olaleye (Vietnam, ST C - Ha Noi T&T)

 

Andorra vs Bermuda - at Estadil Nacional, Andorra la Verra

Andorra's hearts skipped a beat after five minutes, when defender Ildefons Lima almost turned a cross from Bermuda winger Reggie Lambe into his own net. Fortunately, José Antonio Gomes came to his colleague's rescue and pushed the ball behind just in time. Gomes made another big save to keep out a header from Bermuda defender Dante Leverock in the 38th minute. However, he could not prevent Nahki Wells from finishing the rebound. The woodwork then denied Wells a second goal on two separate occasions early in the second half. On the latter occasion, though, the ball bounced back to the Huddersfield Town striker, whose follow-up made it 2-0 Bermuda after 55 minutes. The Gombey Warriors looked set for Round 2... but two late events made their fate rather less certain. The first was in the 75th minute, when Wells picked up a foot injury that would rule him out of the second leg. The second was seven minutes later, when Jordi Rubio's strike sent Andorra into that rematch with renewed hope.

Andorra - 1 (Jordi Rubio 82)

Bermuda - 2 (Nahki Wells 38,55)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Nahki Wells (Bermuda, ST C - Huddersfield Town)

 

Pakistan vs Burundi - at Karachi National Stadium, Karachi

Burundi's counter-attacking strategy against Pakistan paid dividends after nine minutes. Saidi Ntibazonkiza marauded up the right flank before crossing to Laudy Mavugo, whose strike gave Burundi a 1-0 lead. It should've been increased to 2-0 three minutes later, but David Haburugira skimmed the top of the Pakistani crossbar. The Pak Shaheens continued to live dangerously throughout the match, with Mavugo and company missing a host of chances to double Burundi's lead. When the Swallows did score a second goal with two minutes remaining, it only came thanks to some opposition assistance. Ndabashinze Dugary's near-post cross towards Mavugo was knocked across the line by Pakistan captain Zesh Rehman, who had his head in his hands afterwards. Was Pakistan's World Championship coming to an end?

Pakistan - 0

Burundi - 2 (Laudy Mavugo 9, Zesh Rehman og88)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Saidi Ntibazonkiza (Burundi, AM RL - Caen)

 

New Caledonia vs Hong Kong - at Stade Pentecost, Nouméa

Hong Kong were celebrating as early as the fifth minute. Defender Andy Russell scored a rebound shot after team-mate Alexander Akande's strike had been pushed away by New Caledonia keeper Jacques Nepamoindou... but the offside flag came to the hosts' aid. New Caledonia would make the most of their second chance in the 44th minute. Hong Kong goalie Nick Feely could only tip Georges Gope-Fenepej's volley as far as Mickael Partodikromo, who slipped the rebound underneath him. Hong Kong's response came in the 59th minute. Brazilian-born striker Sandro slipped past defender Joël Wakanumuné and delicately chipped the ball beyond Nepamoindou's reach. That could've turned things Hong Kong's way, but Les Cagous had other ideas. With five minutes to go, Gope-Fenepej found the bottom corner of the net to give his country the edge after a hard-fought opening leg.

New Caledonia - 2 (Mickael Partodikromo 44, Georges Gope-Fenepej 85)

Hong Kong - 1 (Sandro 59)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Georges Gope-Fenepej (New Caledonia, AM L/ST C - Amiens)

 

Guadeloupe vs Liberia - at Stade René Serge Nabajoth, Les Abymes

Guadeloupe were in high spirits after winning their Preliminary Round tie in such emphatic fashion, and it showed against Liberia. Though they survived a couple of early near-misses from Liberian forward Seku Conneh, Guadeloupe would open the scoring after half an hour. Claudio Beauvue continued his impressive form by finishing off an attacking move after Grégory Gendrey had been thwarted by a save from Saylee Swen. Another member of Les Gwada Boys' fearsome frontline struck in injury time, with Brice Jovial taking the plaudits. The second half wasn't quite so thrilling for the home fans, but their team was still dominant. Guadeloupe were awarded a contentious penalty when Liberia midfielder Theo Weeks was penalised for a high challenge in the 58th minute. Beauvue stepped up to try and double his money... but Swen swatted his shot away. The Lone Stars were very thankful to Swen at full-time, as without his goalkeeping heroics, Liberia could easily have turned into another Macau.

Guadeloupe - 2 (Claudio Beauvue 30, Brice Jovial 45)

Liberia - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Thomas Gamiette (Guadeloupe, M/DM C - Paris FC)

 

Chad vs Lesotho - at Stade National, N'Djamena

Although they were the unseeded team, Chad showed early on why they were highly fancied to win this all-African tie. Ezechiel Ndouassel sent the home fans into raptures after just five minutes, when he met Azrack Mahamet's cross with a spectacular bicycle kick! Lesotho's equaliser in the 20th minute wasn't too shabby, either. Tsotleho Jane's delivery from the edge of the penalty area was volleyed in by Litsepe Marabe as the Crocodiles bore their teeth. Lesotho then threatened on a couple of occasions to go ahead, only to fall behind again in the 27th minute. Mahamet went from goal creator to goalscorer, slipping Karl Max's through-ball past Lesotho keeper Phasumane Kholuoe. Les Sao were back in the ascendancy, and they would stay there. Ndouassel served up another contender for 'goal of the round' after 66 minutes, when he smashed a shot into the top corner from 20 yards out. Chad completed a convincing win with a fourth goal after 85 minutes. A poor interception from Lesotho left-back Bokang Mothoana diverted the ball towards Karl Max, who tucked in an easy finish for 4-1.

Chad - 4 (Ezechiel Ndouassel 5,66, Azrack Mahamet 27, Karl Max 85)

Lesotho - 1 (Litsepe Marabe 20)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Azrack Mahamet (Chad, DM/M C - Levadeiakos)

 

Yemen vs Nicaragua - at Al-Thawra Sports City Stadium, Sana'a

Both sides threatened the other early on, but it was Nicaragua who made the first breakthrough just before half-time. Yemen were caught out by a clever free-kick that Axel Villanueva lobbed to Luis Copete, who provided a simple finish. The hosts' response was to equalise through a clever passing move of their own in the 53rd minute. Right-back Abdullah Anaam exchanged long passes with Shadi Jamal before crossing to Abdulaziz Al-Gumai, who also scored with relative ease. Both goals had come from central defenders, but neither team could really get their attacks going in a match that would ultimately finish level.

Yemen - 1 (Abdulaziz Al-Gumai 53)

Nicaragua - 1 (Luis Copete 44)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Abdullah Anaam (Yemen, D R - unattached)

 

Central African Republic vs India - at Stade Barthélemy Boganda, Bangui

The Wild Beasts of the Central African Republic devoured India's Blue Tigers in the first half. The rout started off in the 17th minute with a sublime solo goal from David Manga. The right-winger turned past India midfielder Harmanjot Singh Khabra and then curled a superb powerful shot into the corner of the net. Seven minutes later, Manga provided Habib Habibou with an excellent cross that the Gaziantepspor striker headed serenely into the net. CAR continued to take the game to their opponents, and they broke through again in the last minute of the first period. Winger Foxi glided past Indian left-back Nabi and crossed to Hilaire Momi, whose header left the Blue Tigers crying for their mummies. A fragile Indian team took fewer risks in the second half, but that only brought the Central African Republic even further forward. In the end, India could consider themselves lucky not to have lost by a greater scoreline than 3-0. So much for that 'Indian soccer revolution'.

Central African Republic - 3 (David Manga 17, Habib Habibou 24, Hilaire Momi 45)

India - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: David Manga (Central African Republic, AM RLC/ST C - unattached)

 

Cambodia vs Swaziland - at Stade National, Phnom Penh

Cambodia made the more positive start to this match, but it was Swaziland who scored first after 26 minutes. The Cambodian defence was caught napping when Tony Tsabedze bent a low cross to Mzwandile Ndzimandze, who never looked like missing from close range. Ndzimandze could well have scored again in the 31st minute but for a brave parry from the Angkor Warriors' keeper Simon Tracol. Cambodia regathered their thoughts at the half-time interval, and they drew level after 58 minutes. An incisive breakaway saw Khoun Laboravy latch onto Keo Sokpheng's long ball and slip it behind Swaziland keeper Mphikeleli Dlamini. The Sihlangu Semnikati unsuccessfully cried offside, and they would have to settle for a draw that could so easily have been a win. Had Sandile Hlatjwako not pulled wide a sitter in the 86th minute, they could well have gone home with a narrow lead.

Cambodia - 1 (Khoun Laboravy 58)

Swaziland - 1 (Mzwandile Ndzimandze 26)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Bin Thierry (Cambodia, D/WB L - Phnom Penh Crown)

 

Brunei vs Barbados - at Negara Hassanal Bolkiah, Bandar Seri Begawan

The Bajan Tridents got stuck into Brunei right from the off. In the fifth minute, home keeper Mohd Nizar Munisar was beaten by a follow-up strike from Jonathan Forte after he'd kept out the Barbados striker's initial header. Barbados would score again ten minutes later, with Mario Harte driving the ball home after his teenage midfield colleague Sebastian Hunte had squared it to him. Add in a second Forte strike on 24 minutes, and the visitors were already looking comfortable at the break. They were in no mood to show any mercy, though. Things looked even more ominous for Brunei when Barbadian right-back Jamar Walters' cross was headed in by Nick Blackman after 59 minutes. The punishment continued seven minutes later, as Forte completed his hat-trick and increased the lead to five. Blackman joined Forte as a multiple scorer with another header on 76 minutes, but only one man was going to have the final say in this match. Forte completed the Wasps' extermination in added-on time with his fourth and Barbados' seventh goal, which came from their 33rd shot at goal, and their 15th on target. The Bajan Tridents had been ruthless - absolutely ruthless.

Brunei - 0

Barbados - 7 (Jonathan Forte 5,24,66,90, Mario Harte 15, Nick Blackman 59,76)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jonathan Forte (Barbados, AM L/ST C - Oldham Athletic)

 

Fiji vs North Korea - at National Stadium, Suva

This was very much a game of two halves. The first half was North Korea's, as they had a number of pops at goal before finally striking lucky in the 41st minute. Star man Pak Kwang-Ryong headed Ri Jun-Il's right-wing cross on to Kim Kyong-Il, who nodded it past Fijian goalkeeper Radike Ulaiasi Seruvatu. Fiji's Uruguayan coach Juan Carlos Buzzetti must've said something right at the interval, because the Bula Boys came out looking like a completely different team in the second half. The first sign of a turnaround came when Roy Krishna levelled in the 49th minute. Another came when Kim had a potential second North Korean goal disallowed for offside in the 61st minute. The score did change to 2-1 after 69 minutes, but in Fiji's favour. Maika Waqa popped up to knock a Pita Baleitoga cross into the net, and Fiji never looked back. Krishna sent them 3-1 up from the penalty spot in the 84th minute after being tripped by North Korea's Ri Kwang-Chon, whose day ended on an even worse note when he gifted Maciu Dunadamu a fourth Fijian goal in injury time.

Fiji - 4 (Roy Krishna 49,pen84, Maika Waqa 69, Maciu Dunadamu 90)

North Korea - 1 (Kim Kyong-Il 41)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Roy Krishna (Fiji, AM RL/ST C - Wellington Phoenix)

Edited by CFuller

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And that is really upsetting:(:(:(:(:(:(

Ouch. A 3-0 loss isn't great for India at all. :( All is not lost, though - they might just come back in the second leg.

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Round 1, Leg 2 Results

8 September 2015

Turkmenistan vs Suriname - at Olimpiya Stadiony, Aşgabat

Turkmenistan were celebrating a goal after just 51 seconds, when Didargylyç Urazow headed home from a Dawid Sarkisow cross. Right-back Sarkisow would also be the creator of their second goal, which Mämmedaly Garadanow fired into the net after 23 minutes. Suriname did pull one goal back in the 39th minute, when Nigel Hasselbaink - a nephew of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink - took advantage of a goalkeeping mistake from Maxatmyrat Şamyradow, but the visitors' joy would be short-lived. A second Garadanow goal on 41 minutes sent Turkmenistan into the break leading 3-1 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate. Wladimir Bayramow extended their lead further in the 55th minute, while Sarkisow set up another Urazow strike four minutes later to make victory almost certain. Not even an own goal from home defender Nazar Çöliyew on 69 minutes could save Suriname from an early exit.

Turkmenistan - 5 (Didargylyç Urazow 1,58, Mämmedaly Garadanow 23,41, Wladimir Bayramow 55)

Suriname - 2 (Nigel Hasselbaink 39, Nazar Çöliyew og69)

[Turkmenistan win 7-3 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Didargylyç Urazow (Turkmenistan, ST C - Ahal Ak-Dasayak)

 

Kyrgyzstan vs Sri Lanka - at Stadion im Dolena Omurzakova, Bishkek

After a goalless first leg, Kyrgyzstan struck first blood in this tie 20 minutes into the second game. Anton Zemlianukhin drifted a corner long to Ahletdin Israilov, who then smashed it into the net from 25 yards out! Israilov served up another impressive finish six minutes later, pouncing on captain Vadim Kharchenko's delivery from the right. Israilov could well have sealed his hat-trick in the 38th minute but for a fine save from Sri Lanka goalkeeper Vidanage Asanka Viraj. That save would only delay the inevitable, though. Israilov continued to torment the Lankan Lions virtually on his own in the second half, and he finally got his third goal in the 78th minute. Kharchenko was the architect again as Israilov made it 3-0 and sent the White Falcons soaring into a Round 2 clash with Guatemala.

Kyrgyzstan - 3 (Ahletdin Israilov 20,26,78)

Sri Lanka - 0

[Kyrgyzstan win 3-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ahletdin Israilov (Kyrgyzstan, AM CR/ST C - Dynamo Kiev)

 

Puerto Rico vs French Guiana - at Sixto Escobar, San Juan

French Guiana battered Puerto Rico with shots in the first half but somehow didn't score with any of them. Sloan Privat looked uncharacteristically wasteful up front, as did Michael Solvi in midfield. The Puerto Ricans just about held firm, but this almost relentless assault from the visitors took its toll on defender John Krause after 49 minutes. Krause twisted his ankle in a clash with Privat, and his enforced exit clearly had an effect on Puerto Rico. Three of his team-mates were booked later on in the second half, while the Blue Hurricane's attack felt more like a gentle breeze to French Guiana, who coasted through without needing to score again.

Puerto Rico - 0

French Guiana - 0

[French Guiana win 3-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Roy Contout (French Guiana, AM R/ST C - RS Berkane)

 

Tajikistan vs Seychelles - at Central, Dushanbe

Following his late winner in the first leg, Tajikistan's Davronjon Tuhtasunov started the second leg with a very early goal. Barely six minutes had passed when a superb overhead kick from Tuhtasunov sent Rahmatullo Fuzaylov's cross flying into the Seychelles net. That started a very one-sided second leg in which the Seychelles hardly had a say at all. Strikers Tuhtasunov and Manuchehr Jalilov each had multiple chances to further enhance Tajikistan's lead before they made way for substitutes early in the second half. All of the Tajik substitutes would make their mark later on. On 75 minutes, striker Muhammad Sultonov prodded in left-back Farhod Vasiev's cross to double the Persian Lions' lead. Five minutes later, Sultonov scored a second goal - set up by strike partner Dilshod Vosiev - to sink the Pirates for good.

Tajikistan - 3 (Davronjon Tuhtasunov 7, Muhammad Sultonov 75,80)

Seychelles - 0

[Tajikistan win 4-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Rahmatullo Fuzaylov (Tajikistan, D/WB R - CSKA-Pomir Dushanbe)

 

Guam vs Myanmar - at Guam National Football Stadium, Hagatna

Myanmar enjoyed the better of the first half, forcing Guam goalkeeper Doug Herrick into a number of important saves. Herrick almost beat himself seven minutes into the second half, when he fumbled a Khin Maung Lwin cross against his near post before securing it at the second attempt. In truth, though, Myanmar would not have to add to their two-goal aggregate lead. Guam's strikeforce was so impotent that Burmese goalkeeper Thi Ha Si Thu had very little to do, and Myanmar eased past the Matao without breaking much sweat late on.

Guam - 0

Myanmar - 0

[Myanmar win 2-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: AJ DeLaGarza (Guam, D RLC - Los Angeles Galaxy)

 

Afghanistan vs São Tomé & Príncipe - at Ghazi Olympic Stadium, Kabul

When Luís Leal put São Tomé & Príncipe ahead after just 45 seconds, it set the scene for a sensational nine-goal thriller. Unfortunately, for Afghanistan, most of those goals would end up in their net. Shamsuddin Amiri picked a second goal out of his net after being beaten by Harramiz on 25 minutes. Leal then breezed through an incompetent Afghan defence on his way to scoring the Seleção's third goal five minutes from half-time. Then things really got silly. Mohammad Reza got one goal back for the Lions in the 55th minute, and then Leal completed his hat-trick for São Tomé & Príncipe in the 58th. Norlla Amiri grabbed a second Afghan goal later on in that same minute, only for Harramiz to score São Tomé's FIFTH less than a minute afterwards! The visitors moved up to SIX goals via Zé in the 68th minute... and there was still time for Joel Pires to head in a SEVENTH in the dying moments. That ended a very brief and painful World Championship for Afghanistan, for whom centre-backs Faisal Hemati and Sayed Maqsood had been particularly awful.

Afghanistan - 2 (Mohammad Reza 55, Norlla Amiri 58)

São Tomé & Príncipe - 7 (Luís Leal 1,40,58, Harramiz 25,59, Zé 68, Joel Pires 90)

[são Tomé & Príncipe win 8-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Luís Leal (São Tomé & Príncipe, AM L/ST C - Cerro Porteño)

 

Aruba vs Indonesia - at Guillermo Trinidad, Oranjestad

Having won 1-0 away from home in the first leg, Aruba were hotly fancied to complete the job back on their own turf. After 35 minutes, Joshua John fired into the side netting a real opportunity to double their aggregate lead. John's miss, along with many others from colleagues such as Jelano Cruden and Erixon Danso, would prove very costly. Having been on the defensive for much of the game, Indonesia struck a massive attacking blow in the 78th minute. Midfielder Stefano Lilipaly's clinical strike clearly shook the hosts up, as five minutes later, Danso fired a potential Aruban game-winner wide. Indonesia then won the game themselves in the penultimate minute of normal time, with Samsul Arief latching onto Ramdani Lestaluhu's long ball and firing it home! The Garuda's late comeback was complete.

Aruba - 0

Indonesia - 2 (Stefano Lilipaly 78, Samsul Arief 89)

[indonesia win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Stefano Lilipaly (Indonesia, M RC/WB R - Telstar)

 

Curaçao vs US Virgin Islands - at Korsou, Noord Zapateer

The US Virgin Islands trailed 3-0 from the earlier meeting, and they could've gone 4-0 behind just 97 seconds into the rematch. Left-back Menelik Lesmond almost headed Curaçao counterpart Papito Merencia's cross into his own net, but goalkeeper Dillon Pieffer pushed the ball behind just in time. Captain Pieffer would continue to lead by example for the Flying Eagle by making a number of big saves. The US Virgin Islands' attackers saw much less action, as Reid Ganiko was restricted to a couple of long-rangers and nothing else. Curaçao's strikers could not be kept out for the whole 90 minutes, though. Pieffer made two saves in quick succession from Elson Hooi and Charlton Vicento in the 75th minute before finally being beaten by Romero Regales. Two minutes later, Vicento found the target to effectively book Curaçao's place in Round 2. Dustley Mulder then completed back-to-back three-goal wins for Patrick Kluivert's side in the 83rd minute, converting a penalty after Carlos Mathurin had brought down Vicento.

Curaçao - 3 (Romero Regales 75, Charlton Vicento 77, Dustley Mulder pen83)

US Virgin Islands - 0

[Curaçao win 7-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Elson Hooi (Curaçao, M R/AM RL - Volendam)

 

Luxembourg vs Tuvalu - at Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg

Tuvalu's hopes of fighting back from 3-0 behind suffered a near-fatal blow after 11 minutes, when Christopher Martins Pereira fired in a half-volley for Luxembourg. The Red Lions were now in full control of the tie, and they were free to do whatever they liked. After tormenting the Pacific islanders for close to an hour, they scored a second goal in the 69th minute through David Caiado's header. Their third came ten minutes later, with Guy Blaise burning down what was left of Tuvalu's World Championship campaign. Although the visitors threatened to score a consolation goal through Alopua Petoa in the 87th minute, Luxembourg goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert's save ensured that they would go home empty-handed.

Luxembourg - 3 (Christopher Martins Pereira 11, David Caiado 69, Guy Blaise 79)

Tuvalu - 0

[Luxembourg win 6-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: David Caiado (Luxembourg, AM/M R - Ponferradina)

 

The Gambia vs Montserrat - at Stade Brikama, Banjul

This second leg really could've been a tight one, considering that the first had finished 1-1. However, it was a case of one team taking their chances ruthlessly and another not taking theirs at all. The Gambia set the tone for what was to come after 18 minutes, when Mustapha Carayol converted a rebounded Ebrima Sohna shot that had been parried by Montserrat goalkeeper Andrew Maede. On 29 minutes, a header from Modou Barrow led to chaos in Montserrat's six-yard box before Barrow finally got the ball across the goal line. The Emerald Boys conceded again two minutes into the second half, as defender Spencer Roach unfortunately prodded a Carayol cross into his own goal. Barrow then piled on the misery for Montserrat by scoring his second goal after 55 minutes. This was turning into a nightmare for the visitors, who had missed loads of chances throughout the game - of their 10 shots in total, only one was on target. The Gambia's shots-on-target rate was a more impressive 11 in 17, and left-back Kristian Brix gave them a fifth and final goal after 69 minutes.

The Gambia - 5 (Mustapha Carayol 18, Modou Barrow 29,55, Spencer Roach og47, Kristian Brix 69)

Montserrat - 0

[The Gambia win 6-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Modou Barrow (The Gambia, AM R/ST C - Swansea City)

 

Singapore vs Guyana - at National Stadium, Kallang

Italian referee Daniele Orsato struggled to keep this game in control early on. He had to dish out his red card in the 21st minute, as Singapore midfielder Hariss Harun received two bookings in the space of four minutes after tripping Chris Nurse and Cameron Jerome. Guyana would also have a man sent off in the 30th minute after Neil Danns made a two-footed lunge on Shahdan Sulaiman. After those two dismissals, both teams got round to playing some football. Jerome opened the scoring with a sublime solo goal for Guyana in the 39th minute, but Singapore substitute Fahrudin Mustafic cancelled it out three minutes later with a half-volley. Singapore were leading by the 51st minute through Khairul Amri, although the Lions still needed one more goal to avoid elimination. Their big chance came on 57 minutes, when Shaiful Esah's free-kick was parried by Guyana keeper Andrew Durant to Sulaiman, who struck the post. That narrow escape meant the Golden Jaguars were still leading on away goals, and when Jerome scored again in the final minute of normal time, their progress to Round 2 was confirmed.

Singapore - 2 (Fahrudin Mustafic 42, Khairul Amri 51)

Guyana - 2 (Cameron Jerome 39,90)

[Guyana win 3-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Cameron Jerome (Guyana, ST C - Norwich City)

 

Grenada vs Maldives - at National Cricket Stadium, St George's

Grenada made home advantage count in the second leg as they struck the first blow after exactly 17 minutes. Winger Ricky Augustine selflessly squared the ball to 19-year-old Jamal Charles, who scored a poacher's finish. The woodwork then denied Augustine a goal in the 23rd minute, but that didn't affect him too much, as he set up Charles again in the 32nd. When Brian Andrew hit the post two minutes after Grenada's second goal, it became clear that the Maldives had to do something in the second half to save themselves. The Red Snappers responded by... erm, not doing a great deal. The visitors would finish this game with only two shots on target - one in the latter stage of each half. Progress to the next stage was fairly comfortable for Grenada, even though Augustine had to come off with a damaged heel after 71 minutes.

Grenada - 2 (Jamal Charles 17,32)

Maldives - 0

[Grenada win 3-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jamal Charles (Grenada, AM L/ST C - Williams Connection)

 

New Zealand vs East Timor - at North Harbour Stadium, Auckland

Chris Wood and Cameron Howieson each wasted chances to give New Zealand an early goal in this match. Those misses would be magnified in the 20th minute, when Thiago Cunha's half-volley sensationally sent East Timor 1-0 up! East Timor then had to weather a large Kiwi storm, with Shane Smeltz and Dan Keat both striking the woodwork. After surviving those scares, the underdogs bit the All Whites for a second time in the 40th minute. Cunha took left-back Agostinho's long ball on one bounce before whacking in a second goal that left Auckland reeling! New Zealand now had to score three goals to stay in the World Championship! Wood scrambled in their first early in the second period, but there would be an agonisingly long wait before the Kiwis scored again. When Louis Fenton did whack in an impressive 25-yarder to make it 2-2, there were only five minutes left to go. New Zealand had one final shot at glory in the 88th minute... and Tim Payne put it well wide. He and his compatriots were left devastated at the final whistle, which confirmed that East Timor had gone through on away goals! In doing so, O Sol Nascente had caused the World Championship's biggest shock yet!

New Zealand - 2 (Chris Wood 47, Louis Fenton 85)

East Timor - 2 (Thiago Cunha 20,40)

[2-2 on aggregate, East Timor win on away goals]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Thiago Cunha (East Timor, ST C - Port FC)

 

Tanzania vs Mauritius - at Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, Dar es Salaam

Gary Noel put a couple of headers narrowly off target before team-mate Michaël Bosqui did flick Mauritius into the lead after eight minutes. The visitors would need at least two more goals to shock Tanzania and reach the next round at their expense. They would have a host of unsuccessful attempts at goal before suffering a major blow very early in the second half. Abdi Kassam Sadallah's cracking strike into the top corner began a Tanzanian surge that saw the Taifa Stars soar inexorably towards Round 2. Further goals from Thomas Ulimwengu and Amri Kiemba either side of the hour mark left Les Dodos for dead. Although Noel and Bosqui each scored in the final 20 minutes to pull Mauritius level on the night, their chances of progressing any further in this season's World Championship were now extinct.

Tanzania - 3 (Abdi Kassam Sadallah 46, Thomas Ulimwengu 58, Amri Kiemba 66)

Mauritius - 3 (Michaël Bosqui 8,81, Gary Noel 71)

[Tanzania win 6-3 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Michaël Bosqui (Mauritius, D C - CA Bastia)

 

Georgia vs Nepal - at Mikheil Meskhi, Tbilisi

Nepal's defence was caught napping in the second minute, when 21-year-old midfielder Lucas Hufnagel powered in a very early opener for Georgia. On 22 minutes, Hufnagel set up a chance for Valeri Qazaishvili that his fellow youngster fired against the bar before Nepal defender Dilip Silwal cleared the ball into touch. The Crusaders' dominance of the first half continued with captain Jaba Kankava driving the ball home from Nikoloz Gelashvili's flick-on in the 37th minute. Seven minutes later, a 2-0 lead became 3-0. Lasha Salukvadze was tripped up by Sailesh Maharjan, and Leven Mchedlidze hammered in the resulting penalty. Georgia's aggregate lead was now at six goals, so only a miracle could now save Nepal. There was to be no miracle, as Nepal couldn't even trouble the home team with a single shot on target.

Georgia - 3 (Lucas Hufnagel 2, Jaba Kankava 37, Leven Mchedlidze pen44)

Nepal - 0

[Georgia win 7-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Lasha Salukvadze (Georgia, D LRC - Inter Baku)

 

Thailand vs Dominica - at Rajamangala National Stadium, Bangkok

Dominica faced the daunting prospect of having to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit in Thailand. When Sarat Yooyen unleashed a 20-yard piledriver in the 8th minute, the visitors' task was made even more difficult. All Dominica could really do was try and avoid getting trampled by the parade of advancing War Elephants. Goalkeeper Glenson Prince did put up some resistance, making three saves in as many minutes between the 33rd and 35th minutes, but he would soon be crushed under the weight of Thailand's attacks. Prince was unable to keep out a fierce shot from Korawit Namwiset in the 47th minute, and likewise an edge-of-the-area stunner from Chanathip Songkrasin in the 61st. Although Julian Wade did pull back two goals for Dominica in the last 20 minutes, it was far too late, especially considering that Teeratep Winothai had headed in Thailand's fourth in between.

Thailand - 4 (Sarat Yooyen 8, Korawit Namwiset 47, Chanathip Songkrasin 61, Teeratep Winothai 75)

Dominica - 2 (Julian Wade 72,87)

[Thailand win 7-3 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Akkachai Sumrea (Thailand, M/AM RL - Bangkok United)

Edited by CFuller

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I believe that São Tomé & Príncipe had shocked a Central Asian team. What would be the next for all minnows like Timor-Leste? I like Kyrgyzstan and Thailand getting advanced, but Laos and Vietnam, let's see. I'm eyeing for a Cambodian win too because Southeast Asia may rule the world soon. I will also wait to see the Philippines facing the neighbors or a former Spanish colony in the next round.

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Ouch. A 3-0 loss isn't great for India at all. :( All is not lost, though - they might just come back in the second leg.

Fingers crossed, but we may also need some internal rebellion or match fixing...Surely The Russian federation is trying to foil this tournament.....(though there is no obvious reason for choosing this match, but why not hope?)

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I believe that São Tomé & Príncipe had shocked a Central Asian team. What would be the next for all minnows like Timor-Leste? I like Kyrgyzstan and Thailand getting advanced, but Laos and Vietnam, let's see. I'm eyeing for a Cambodian win too because Southeast Asia may rule the world soon. I will also wait to see the Philippines facing the neighbors or a former Spanish colony in the next round.

I'm a little surprised that São Tomé & Príncipe are still standing, although to be fair, Afghanistan were perhaps among the weaker teams they could've faced in Round 1.

That victory for East Timor (or Timor-Leste, if you prefer) was quite simply amazing. I didn't give them a hope in hell's chance of knocking out New Zealand, but now they're through to face Namibia. If they can beat the All Whites, they could easily threaten Namibia.

You're half-right about the Philippines' potential Round 2 opponents. Malaysia are neighbours, but Guinea-Bissau was actually a Portuguese colony. You might have got them confused with Equatorial Guinea, which was a Spanish colony.

Fingers crossed, but we may also need some internal rebellion or match fixing...Surely The Russian federation is trying to foil this tournament.....(though there is no obvious reason for choosing this match, but why not hope?)

Russian cheating, eh? Hmm...

Maybe India have brought in some Russian (ahem) doctors to help them with their (ahem) fitness and (ahem) any heart problems before the second leg. :D

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Round 1, Leg 2 Results

9 September 2015

Liechtenstein vs Tahiti - at Rheinpark Stadion, Vaduz

Tahiti's second leg didn't start too well for them. Striker Raïmana Li Fung Kuee needed treatment on a knock after just two minutes, while Liechtenstein duo Simon Kühne and Niklas Kieber both hit the woodwork early on. Kieber would go one better in the 14th minute, finding the net from 25 yards out after a one-two with Diego Ciccone. Tahiti were now two goals down on aggregate, and things were looking bleak for them... until their left-winger Alvin Tehau's 32nd-minute corner was turned in by home defender Pascal Foser. After that glimmer of hope, Toa Aito returned for the second half feeling reinvigorated. They survived a number of Liechtenstein attacks before, in the 67th minute, Li Fung Kuee drew then level on aggregate. A penalty shoot-out now looked likely unless there was another goal in the closing stages. Liechtenstein captain Michele Polverino went close with a volley on 82 minutes... but seven minutes later, Lorenzo Tehau headed in his brother Alvin's corner to give Tahiti the win! The Blues-Reds of Liechtenstein were red in the face and feeling very, very blue.

Liechtenstein - 1 (Niklas Kieber 14)

Tahiti - 3 (Pascal Foser og32, Raïmana Li Fung Kuee 67, Lorenzo Tehau 89)

[Tahiti win 4-3 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Alvin Tehau (Tahiti, AM L/ST C - AS Tefana Faa'a)

 

Guinea-Bissau vs Malaysia - at Estádio 24 de Setembro, Bissau

Abel Camará sent Guinea-Bissau in front after just six minutes, thanks to some shaky Malaysian defending. R Gopinathan's tackle on home right-back Ibraima knocked the ball back towards Camará, who was left with an easy close-range finish. Malaysia almost had another defensive calamity after 15 minutes. Full-back Matthew Davies almost Zezinho's corner behind into his own net before goalkeeper Khairul Fahmie Che Mat got down to retrieve the ball in the nick of time. Another Zezinho corner would lead to disaster for Malaysia, though, after 43 minutes. Camará was shoved by Muhd Shahrom Abdul Kalam as both men went after the delivery. The referee pointed to the penalty spot, from which Sami made it 2-0 to Guinea-Bissau. The Djurtus could have run wild after that, but they were very professional in the second half and simply finished the job off. Malaysia hardly got a sniff at goal as their campaign ended with a whimper.

Guinea-Bissau - 2 (Abel Camará 6, Sami pen43)

Malaysia - 0

[Guinea-Bissau win 4-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sami (Guinea-Bissau, AM RL - Akhisar Belediyespor)

 

Kazakhstan vs Martinique - at Astana Arena, Astana

Both goalkeepers were tested in the early stages. Martinique custodian Steeve Elana held onto a fifth-minute strike from Bauyrzhan Islamkhan, and a minute after that, Kazakh keeper Stas Pokatilov safely gathered Harry Novillo's long-range attempt. That latter effort was one of Martinique's better chances in what would be a frustrating game for them. Lone frontman Geoffrey Malfleury was largely isolated from his team as Kazakhstan took the game to Martinique, determined not to let them fight back from behind. Les Matinino didn't handle the situation particularly well, as they conceded 21 fouls in all. Surprisingly, they only received one yellow card - for centre-back Belony Dumas in the 71st minute. Kazakhstan couldn't find a way through their defence in this second leg, but the Hawks' three goals from the earlier fixture were enough to see them swoop into the next round.

Kazakhstan - 0

Martinique - 0

[Kazakhstan win 3-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Dmitrii Shonko (Kazakhstan, D/WB/M L - FK Astana)

 

Mauritania vs Comoros - at Stade National, Nouakchott

Comoros threatened to lose their cool on a number of occasions early on in Mauritania. The visitors had four players, including captain Nadjim Abdou, booked within the opening 18 minutes. Mauritania seemed much cooler on the surface, although their shooting in the first half didn't reflect that, as skipper Moussa Baghayoko struck the post from a great position in the 30th minute. They would have rather better luck after the break. Despite gashing his head earlier in the match, right-winger Adama Ba provided Dominique da Silva with an excellent cross that the striker powerfully put away after 58 minutes. That goal virtually ended Les Coelecantes' hopes. They were put out of their misery with four minutes to go, as da Silva scored again, from Mamadou Wadé's left-wing delivery. Mauritania were safely through, even though they had to finish a man light after Baghayoko strained his calf just before that second goal.

Mauritania - 2 (Dominique da Silva 58,86)

Comoros - 0

[Mauritania win 4-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Dominique da Silva (Mauritania, ST C/AM R - Al-Urooba)

 

Malta vs Chinese Taipei - at Ta' Qali, Mdina

The second leg more than made up for a tepid first leg. The Maltese Falcons made a flying start, with André Schembri slipping in the opening goal after a little over three minutes. They swooped again in the 23rd minute, with Clayton Failla easily succeeding in driving a Zach Muscat cross into the net. Chinese Taipei got a goal back six minutes later through Turkish-born striker Onur Dogan, but they still looked vulnerable without their suspended star full-back Xavier Chen. They also failed to seriously trouble Andrew Hogg in the Maltese goal following Dogan's strike. The sun set on their hopes after 74 minutes, when Muscat capped off a wonderful display with a sublime shot from just behind the corner of the penalty area. Malta could now look ahead to a Round 2 tie against Antigua & Barbuda.

Malta - 3 (André Schembri 4, Clayton Failla 23, Zach Muscat 74)

Chinese Taipei - 1 (Onur Dogan 29)

[Malta win 3-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Zach Muscat (Malta, D RC/DM C - Akragas)

 

Vietnam vs Laos - at My Dinh, Ha Noi

Local rivalries were renewed in the Vietnamese capital, where Billy Ketkeo almost gave Laos a shock lead after just five minutes. After that, however, it was very much all Vietnam. Striker Samson Kayode Olaleye was a constant danger to the Thim Xad in the first half, while Vietnam made good use of some more foreign connections in the second period. After 67 minutes, Jeferson - a left-back who started life in Rio de Janeiro - curled a 30-yard stunner past Laotian keeper Sourasay Keosouvandeng from out wide. The Golden Stars' right-back also made his mark after 81 minutes. Ruslan Kuang, who was born in Bulgaria to a Vietnamese dad, threw the ball to forward Le Van Thang, who took the ball from deep in Laos' half to the penalty area, where he smashed it into the net. 2-0 to the hosts, and it was now all over for Laos.

Vietnam - 2 (Jeferson 67, Le Van Thang 81)

Laos - 0

[Vietnam win 5-3 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ruslan Kuang (Vietnam, D/WB R - Botev Vratsa)

 

Bermuda vs Andorra - at National Sports Centre Stadium, Hamilton

The first half was a tale of two very different Bermudan penalties. The Gombey Warriors' first spot-kick was awarded after just 32 seconds, when Andorra defender Ildefons Lima tripped Rai Simons. Jonté Smith took it... but the young attacking midfielder fired it straight at goalkeeper José Antonio Gomes. When Simons was tripped in the area again - this time by Márcio Vieira - in the 28th minute, he decided that he would take the next penalty himself. It was a smart move from the Chesterfield teenager, who easily found the net from 12 yards. Vieira was one of four Andorrans to be booked in the first half, and one might have thought that the Tricolors were looking off-colour. Gabriel Riera made Andorra's doubters think again on 48 minutes, when his strike put the result back in some doubt. Then Simons drove in his second goal of the night after 78 minutes, all but securing the Gombey Warriors' place in the next stage. Nakia Smith removed any lingering doubts ten minutes later by giving Bermuda a 3-1 win on the night, and a 5-2 victory on aggregate.

Bermuda - 3 (Rai Simons pen28,78, Nakia Smith 88)

Andorra - 1 (Gabriel Riera 48)

[Bermuda win 5-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Rai Simons (Bermuda, AM R/ST C - Chesterfield)

 

Burundi vs Pakistan - at Stade Prince Louis Rwagasore, Bujumbura

Although Ndabashinze Dugary missed an early opportunity to improve on their 2-0 aggregate lead from the first leg, it wouldn't be long before Burundi did go 3-0 up. It was in the 17th minute that Laudy Mavugo slipped the ball past Pakistani goalkeeper Jaffar Khan, who would have a very busy day at the office. Although Khan did make some impressive saves, he didn't exactly cover himself in glory when Dugary beat him on 37 minutes. Burundi's goalkeeper Janvier Ndikumana also had a moment he would rather forget six minutes later. Ndikumana appeared to have kept out a shot from Muhammad Essa, only to be beaten by the follow-up. The Pak Shaheens' unlikely comeback from four goals down continued on 58 minutes with a goal for Kaleemullah... but they would only get halfway towards their target. Dugary's low strike in the 85th minute finally finished off Pakistan, who had centre-back Samar Ishaq sent off for two bookable offences in injury time for good measure.

Burundi - 3 (Laudy Mavugo 17, Ndabashinze Dugary 37,85)

Pakistan - 2 (Muhammad Essa 43, Kaleemullah 58)

[Burundi win 5-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ndabashinze Dugary (Burundi, AM/M R - La Louvière Centre)

 

Hong Kong vs New Caledonia - at Hong Kong Stadium, So Kon Po

Hong Kong got the second leg's opening goal on six minutes. Leung Chun Pong's strike was spilled by New Caledonia keeper Didier Dahote to the feet of Jack Sealy, whose follow-up sealed his place on the scoresheet. However, the other English-born defender in Hong Kong's defence would cost them the lead just a minute later. Andy Russell tripped up Georges Gope-Fenepej in the penalty area, and New Caledonia's frontman duly levelled from the spot. Russell would not be Hong Kong's scapegoat for very long, mind. They were back ahead on 14 minutes, with Alexander Akande striking after Dahote had parried Sandro's point-blank attempt. Despite Les Cagous' best efforts, Hong Kong would remain 2-1 up - and on course for a penalty shoot-out - until the game was decided with ten minutes remaining. When Dahote failed to secure another shot from Sandro, Ghanaian-born striker Godfred popped up to slide in the clincher for Hong Kong. Godfred really was a godsend as far as the hosts were concerned.

Hong Kong - 3 (Jack Sealy 6, Alexander Akande 14, Godfred 80)

New Caledonia - 1 (Georges Gope-Fenepej pen7)

[Hong Kong win 4-3 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Leung Chun Pong (Hong Kong, M CR - South China)

 

Liberia vs Guadeloupe - at Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex, Monrovia

Guadeloupe took another step towards Round 2 when they struck first after 16 minutes. Liberian goalkeeper Saylee Swen's save from Ludovic Sylvestre only sent the ball as far as Livio Nabab, who nabbed the opener. Guadeloupe's 37-year-old keeper Franck Grandel then stopped an attempt from William Jebor in the 21st minute. Seven minutes after that, Sylvestre made it 2-0 to the visitors on the night, and 4-0 on aggregate. Grandel did brilliantly to prevent Liberia from making any dents in their lead until the 63rd minute, when the old-stager let his guard slip. Grandel was caught out by a George Gebro shot that had rebounded off Gwada Boys midfielder Kevin Edwing Malpon, and an unconvincing save opened the door for Seku Conneh to take a goal back for Liberia. Alas, that would be the only crumb of comfort the hosts would get. The Lone Stars would still have had no chance of getting back into the game if if they could've brought on George Weah - their lone superstar of yesteryear - or even just Christopher Wreh.

Liberia - 1 (Seku Conneh 63)

Guadeloupe - 2 (Livio Nabab 16, Ludovic Sylvestre 28)

[Guadeloupe win 4-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sekou Oliseh (Liberia, AM/M R - Al-Gharrafa)

 

Lesotho vs Chad - at Setsotho Stadium, Maseru

Lesotho were always going to find it tough to recover from losing the first leg 4-1, and so it proved. Midfielder Mabuti Potloane troubled Chad goalkeeper Moumine Kassouré with a couple of shots in the first half, but Lesotho otherwise provided very little attacking threat. Chad, too, were far from their best, and seemingly determined to take as few risks as possible. Striker Karl Max was so disappointing that he might as well have temporarily changed his name to Karl Min, although Azrack Mahamet did put in another consistently strong performance from right-back. After an uninspiring goalless draw, Les Sao moved safely through to Round 2.

Lesotho - 0

Chad - 0

[Chad win 4-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Litsepe Maraba (Lesotho, M C - Matlama)

 

Nicaragua vs Yemen - at Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez, Managua

Yemen made an encouraging start, as Fuad Al-Omaisi and Abdullah Anaam both had efforts saved by Nicaragua keeper Denis Espinoza in the first eight minutes. In the remaining 82 minutes, the men in red were... well, not quite so red-hot. Goalkeeping captain Salem Saeed struggled to hold onto a fierce strike from Eulises Pavón in the 30th minute. The rebound fell to midfielder Melardo Martinez, who fired La Azul y Blanco into the lead, albeit with a little help from Saeed's not-so-safe hands. Yemen had an hour to try and fight back, but the best effort they could muster was from Al-Omaisi in the 37th minute. Espinoza palmed the shot away, and he would be a virtual spectator for the second half as Yemen melted in the Central American heat. Nicaragua closed out a narrow victory to seal a Round 2 meeting with Madagascar.

Nicaragua - 1 (Melardo Martinez 30)

Yemen - 0

[Nicaragua win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Wahid Al-Khyat (Yemen, DM/M C - Al-Watani)

 

India vs Central African Republic - at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi

A controversial decision went against India after 90 seconds, when defensive midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh was accused of tripping Hilaire Momi in the penalty area. Indian protests fell on deaf ears, while Calvin shut out the home fans' jeers as he comfortably drove in the Central African Republic's penalty. Jeje provided the people of New Delhi with a bit more joy when he levelled in the fifth minute, only for the Blue Tigers to be struck down again in the tenth. Poor goalkeeping from Gurpeet Singh Sadhu saw Habib Habibou take advantage and put CAR on the road to Round 2. A lacklustre Indian team couldn't recover from going 5-1 down on aggregate, not even with time on their side. What should've been an enthralling match came to an anti-climax, particularly when a shoulder injury for defender Harmanjot Singh Khabra reduced India to ten men for the final eight minutes.

India - 1 (Jeje 5)

Central African Republic - 2 (Calvin pen3, Habib Habibou 10)

[Central African Republic win 5-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Geoffrey Lembot (Central African Republic, GK - Auxerre)

 

Swaziland vs Cambodia - at Somhlolo National Stadium, Lobamba

Cambodia keeper Simon Tracol came to his team's rescue in the 16th minute, denying Siboniso Maseko what looked like an almost certain goal. However, Swaziland did score ten minutes later. Wonder Nkhleko lived up to his name with a superb weighted free-kick to Mzwandile Ndzimandze, who did the rest. Sihlangu Semnikati then started to shield their lead after Ndzimandze missed a few opportunities to increase it. Swaziland looked fairly secure until the 70th minute, when a Cambodian counter-attack resulted in an equaliser for Khoun Laboravy. Four minutes later, the Angkor Warriors hit their opponents on the break again. Khoun drove an incisive pass ahead of Keo Sokpheng, who skilfully chipped goalkeeper Mphikeleli Dlamini and sent the visiting fans into ecstasy! A nervous final quarter-hour followed before Cambodia could start celebrating an excellent victory against seeded opposition!

Swaziland - 1 (Mzwandile Ndzimandze 26)

Cambodia - 2 (Khoun Laboravy 70, Keo Sokpheng 74)

[Cambodia win 3-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Keo Sokpheng (Cambodia, ST C - Phnom Penh Crown)

 

Barbados vs Brunei - at Waterford National Stadium, Bridgetown

Barbados may have won their away leg 7-0, but they showed Brunei no mercy on home soil. After a few unsuccessful attempts at goal, the Bajan Tridents stung the Wasps in the 22nd minute through left-back Teriq Highland. Barbados would score twice more in the next ten minutes through a couple of Nick Blackman penalties. Brunei were now in real danger of losing their cool completely, although they did recompose and get one goal back in the 33rd minute. Captain Mohd Mardi Bujang's latest assist for Mohd Hardi Bujang would be the last hurrah for Brunei's twins at this year's World Championship. The last hour or so was almost a non-spectacle, as Barbados continued to control the match effortlessly and Brunei counted down the minutes until their misery was finally brought to an end.

Barbados - 3 (Teriq Highland 22, Nick Blackman pen25,pen32)

Brunei - 1 (Mohd Hardi Bujang 33)

[Barbados win 10-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sebastian Hunte (Barbados, DM/M/AM C - Paradise SC)

 

North Korea vs Fiji - at May Day Stadium, Pyongyang

North Korea were expected to deliver a strong performance in Pyongyang after losing the first leg heavily. Their players - Pak Kwang-Ryong and Kim Kyong-Il in particular - responded by hitting Fiji with all sorts of shots. The Chollima had 25 in total, but only a fifth of those led to saves from Fijian goalkeeper Radike Ulaiasi Seruvatu. Indeed, it was only thanks to Seruvatu that North Korea scored at all. In injury time, Seruvatu spilt Choe Chol-Man's cross over his goal line to gift North Korea a 1-0 win that sent them into the next round... or so the government-controlled media would have you believe. In truth, Fiji's 4-1 home win meant that, despite being completely overwhelmed on Korean soil, they would be going into Round 2 instead.

North Korea - 1 (Radike Ulaiasi Seruvatu og90)

Fiji - 0

[Fiji win 4-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Nam Song-Chol (North Korea, D LC/SW - April 25)

Edited by CFuller

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Chris, I'm not sure which is the greater achievement. The detail and narrative of this story, which is top notch as always......or managing to do what FIFA have yet to achieve and find a valid use for the FIFA World Rankings!

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Russian cheating, eh? Hmm...

Maybe India have brought in some Russian (ahem) doctors to help them with their (ahem) fitness and (ahem) any heart problems before the second leg. :D

Nothing against Russia, but if they were willing to stage an unofficial world cup, they might have...But did not, at least till now.

I will continue following this story, though.

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Chris, I'm not sure which is the greater achievement. The detail and narrative of this story, which is top notch as always......or managing to do what FIFA have yet to achieve and find a valid use for the FIFA World Rankings!

It's only taken 23 years to find a use for them! :lol:

Nothing against Russia, but if they were willing to stage an unofficial world cup, they might have...But did not, at least till now.

I will continue following this story, though.

I'm sure you're disappointed that India and the other subcontinent teams have gone now, but there are plenty of stories still waiting to develop.

With regards to Russia, watch this space...

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Round 2 Preview

Round 2 saw the entrance of international football's middling nations - those sides ranked between 97th and 128th in the world. They would face off against the 32 survivors on Round 1, who were about to find that the World Championship would only get tougher from here.

 

East Timor were the talk of the tournament after sensationally knocking out New Zealand on away goals. Their reward was a showdown with Namibia, who would be particularly determined to avoid an upset. Lying in wait for the victors in Round 3 would be South Africa - the Namibians' bigger and meaner neighbours.

 

Oceanic side Fiji had also caused a major surprise against North Korea in Round 1. They would take on St Vincent & The Grenadines, while Tahiti - the only other OFC side still standing - hoped to continue their fine run at Canada's expense.

 

Two ex-Soviet nations - Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan - went head-to-head in one of the round's more mouth-watering ties. Another part of the old USSR - Georgia - would play the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia in an all-European affair.

 

There were two African 'derbies' in the form of Mauritania vs Zimbabwe, and Tanzania vs Botswana. Curaçao against Belize was the first tie in this season's World Championship to feature a pair of CONCACAF members.

 

Four Gulf states entered the fray at this stage. Bahrain and Kuwait would both face Caribbean opponents in the shape of Barbados and Guyana respectively, while Oman's first opponents were Kazakhstan.

 

As for Qatar, they would start their World Championship journey against one of the stories of the tournament. French Guiana were one of only a couple new FIFA members who had successfully negotiated the opening two rounds. They shared that achievement with Guadeloupe, who had to overcome Malawi if they were to reach Round 3.

 

São Tomé & Príncipe had entertained onlookers with a free-scoring run to Round 2, but few gave them much chance of getting past Cuba.

 

Kenya entered the fray knowing that victory over Grenada would earn them a tasy Round 3 meeting with bitter rivals Uganda.

 

One other tie that was perhaps worthy of comment involved Mozambique - the highest-ranked seed in this round. Their first - and possibly last - opponents in this season's World Championship were Luxembourg.

 

ROUND 2, LEG 1: 9 October 2015

Bermuda                              vs      Lebanon                             
French Guiana                        vs      Qatar                               
Fiji                                 vs      St Vincent & The Grenadines         
East Timor                           vs      Namibia                             
Grenada                              vs      Kenya                               
Guinea-Bissau                        vs      Philippines                         
Kyrgyzstan                           vs      Guatemala                           
Luxembourg                           vs      Mozambique                          
Malta                                vs      Antigua & Barbuda                   
Mauritania                           vs      Zimbabwe                            
Nicaragua                            vs      Madagascar                          
São Tomé & Príncipe                  vs      Cuba                                
Tahiti                               vs      Canada                              
Tajikistan                           vs      Palestine                           
The Gambia                           vs      Moldova                             
Turkmenistan                         vs      Azerbaijan                          

ROUND 2, LEG 1: 10 October 2015

Barbados                             vs      Bahrain                             
Burundi                              vs      Syria                               
Cambodia                             vs      Sierra Leone                        
Central African Republic             vs      St Kitts & Nevis                    
Chad                                 vs      Lithuania                           
Curaçao                              vs      Belize                              
Georgia                              vs      Macedonia                           
Guadeloupe                           vs      Malawi                              
Guyana                               vs      Kuwait                              
Hong Kong                            vs      Niger                               
Indonesia                            vs      Ethiopia                            
Kazakhstan                           vs      Oman                                
Myanmar                              vs      Dominican Republic                  
Tanzania                             vs      Botswana                            
Thailand                             vs      St Lucia                            
Vietnam                              vs      Belarus                             

ROUND 2, LEG 2: 13 October 2015

Antigua & Barbuda                    vs      Malta                               
Azerbaijan                           vs      Turkmenistan                        
Canada                               vs      Tahiti                               
Cuba                                 vs      São Tomé & Príncipe                 
Guatemala                            vs      Kyrgyzstan                          
Kenya                                vs      Grenada                              
Lebanon                              vs      Bermuda                             
Madagascar                           vs      Nicaragua                           
Moldova                              vs      The Gambia                           
Mozambique                           vs      Luxembourg                          
Namibia                              vs      East Timor                          
Palestine                            vs      Tajikistan                          
Philippines                          vs      Guinea-Bissau                       
Qatar                                vs      French Guiana                       
St Vincent & The Grenadines          vs      Fiji                                
Zimbabwe                             vs      Mauritania                          

ROUND 2, LEG 2: 14 October 2015

Bahrain                              vs      Barbados                            
Belarus                              vs      Vietnam                             
Belize                               vs      Curaçao                             
Botswana                             vs      Tanzania                            
Dominican Republic                   vs      Myanmar                             
Ethiopia                             vs      Indonesia                           
Kuwait                               vs      Guyana                              
Lithuania                            vs      Chad                                
Macedonia                            vs      Georgia                             
Malawi                               vs      Guadeloupe                          
Niger                                vs      Hong Kong                           
Oman                                 vs      Kazakhstan                          
Sierra Leone                         vs      Cambodia                            
St Kitts & Nevis                     vs      Central African Republic            
St Lucia                             vs      Thailand                            
Syria                                vs      Burundi                             

Edited by CFuller

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Round 2, Leg 1 Results

9 October 2015

Luxembourg vs Mozambique - at Stade Josy Barthel, Luxembourg

38-year-old Dário had chances to put Mozambique ahead within the first five minutes, but his failure to take them would prove costly. After 23 minutes, it was Luxembourg who took the lead through Maurice Deville's header from David Caiado's cross. Six minutes later, though, Os Mambos did have a reason to celebrate. Dário proved that age was just a number when he ran onto Mozambique captain Domingues' cross and fired home the equaliser. The veteran forward could've scored again in the 33rd minute, but the post came to Luxembourg's rescue. Then, in the 60th minute, Deville dealt the visitors a cruel blow by thrashing in Laurent Jans' through-ball and making it 2-1 to the Red Lions. That was how the scoreline stayed, and with Mozambique only hitting the target with a quarter of their shots, it was clear that Os Mambos would have to brush up on their shooting before the return fixture.

Luxembourg - 2 (Maurice Deville 23,60)

Mozambique - 1 (Dário 29)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Maurice Deville (Luxembourg, AM/ST C - Kaiserslautern)

 

Malta vs Antigua & Barbuda - at Ta' Qali, Mdina

Antigua & Barbuda's defence could only hold out for five minutes before they were beaten in somewhat bizarre fashion. Zach Muscat lobbed the ball over the backline to Malta team-mate Clayton Failla, whose shot was parried back to the far post by goalkeeper Brentton Muhammed before eventually crossing the line. That was not a great moment for Muhammed, although he did redeem himself somewhat by stopping André Schembri and then Luke Gambin from doubling Malta's lead later in the first half. The second period saw more wasted opportunities for the Falcons, as well as the visitors. Frontmen Josh Parker and Dexter Blackstock were both very disappointing for Antigua & Barbuda, as they each had just a single shot on target. Malta keeper Andrew Hogg comfortably kept a clean sheet as his team held on for the win.

Malta - 1 (Clayton Failla 5)

Antigua & Barbuda - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Andrew Cohen (Malta, M/AM C - Hibernians)

 

São Tomé & Príncipe vs Cuba - at Estádio 12 de Julho, São Tomé

São Tomé & Príncipe were one of the surprise packages of the World Championship thus far, and they made another bright start here. Marcos Barbeiro slipped Luís Leal's first-time pass beyond the rushing Cuban keeper Odelín Molina to make it 1-0 to the underdogs after just 14 minutes. Cuba unsuccessfully claimed for a penalty seven minutes later after accusing Seleção full-back Jordão Diogo of fouling their skipper Maikel Reyes. El Leones del Caribe felt even more disgruntled in the 29th minute, when left-back Abel Martínez's game was ended by a sprained ankle. Although Cuba twice tested São Tomé & Príncipe goalkeeper Dungue Rosário late in the first half, they couldn't get anywhere near the target after the interval. São Tomé & Príncipe had won an astonishing fifth game on the trot, and the fairytale looked set to continue!

São Tomé & Príncipe - 1 (Marcos Barbeiro 14)

Cuba - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Marcos Barbeiro (São Tomé & Príncipe, AM CR - Marítimo)

 

Mauritania vs Zimbabwe - at Stade National, Nouakchott

Zimbabwe captain Izunna Uzochukwu gave an indication of what was to come from his team in the second minute, when his long-range shot was caught by Souleymane Diallo. The Mauritania goalkeeper would go on to have a very busy day, as he was forced into making a number of saves from Zimbabwe's attackers. He also survived a major scare in the 30th minute, when Marvelous Nakamba's header rattled his goal frame. Diallo's luck would hold out until the 59th minute, when Knowledge Musona beat him at his near post. Two minutes after that, Cuthbert Malajila provided another close-range finish for Zimbabwe, who were now 2-0 up. Mauritania twice threatened to pull a goal back within the next three minutes, but Adama Ba was denied by Warriors keeper Washington Arubi, and Kévin Malcuit by the woodwork. A miserable evening for Les Mourabitones ended with Musona increasing Zimbabwe's advantage to 3-0 in the final minute of normal time.

Mauritania - 0

Zimbabwe - 3 (Knowledge Musona 59,90, Cuthbert Malajila 61)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Knowledge Musona (Zimbabwe, M/AM R - KV Oostende)

 

Grenada vs Kenya - at National Cricket Stadium, St George's

Grenada goalkeeper Shemel Louison had to be alert right from the off, as he saved a long-range striker from McDonald Mariga in the first minute. Alas, he could only parry the ball to Allan Wanga, who gave Kenya a very early lead. That would be the only goal of the first half, though Mariga's brother Victor Wanyama did smash the woodwork in the 20th minute. Kenya resumed the goalscoring in the 52nd minute, with Wanga tucking away Ayub Masika's centre from the byline. Grenada got a goal back on 70 minutes, with Kharlton Belmar driving in the rebound after Kenyan goalkeeper Arnold Origi had turned Jamal Charles' shot against his post. Wanyama then restored the Harambee Stars' two-goal lead three minutes later with a blistering free-kick. Although Belmar did spice up the action with a second Spice Boys goal on 86 minutes, Dennis Oliech had the final word four minutes later for Kenya, who ran out 4-2 winners.

Grenada - 2 (Kharlton Belmar 70,86)

Kenya - 4 (Allan Wanga 1,52, Victor Wanyama 73, Dennis Oliech 90)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ayub Masika (Kenya, AM/D/WB R - Lierse)

 

East Timor vs Namibia - at National Stadium, Dili

Sadly, the magnitude of their shock win a month earlier affected East Timor in the first leg of their Round 2 tie. Midfielder Paulo Martins gave away a penalty on 16 minutes after he pushed Jerome Louis, who would go on to give Namibia the lead from the spot. Namibia would run the show from that point on. Louis had his next shot saved by Emerson in the 19th minute, while Namibia midfielder Brian Gurirab was unlucky on a number of occasions not to double their lead. East Timor couldn't pose any sort of threat to the Brave Warriors and went down 1-0, although onlookers already knew that it was still too early to write off O Sol Nascente.

East Timor - 0

Namibia - 1 (Jerome Louis pen16)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Chris Katjiukua (Namibia, D R - Ajax Cape Town)

 

Kyrgyzstan vs Guatemala - at Stadion im Dolena Omurzakova, Bishkek

A brilliant fingertip save by Kyrgyzstan goalkeeper Pavel Matyash was all that denied Marco Pappa an early opener for Guatemala after three minutes. Matyash saved further attempts from Pappa and Jehú Chiapas later in the first 20 minutes and would be kept busy throughout the match. While Los Chapines were kept off the scoreboard by some solid keeping, Kyrgyzstan's failure to score was almost solely down to them. Their midfield struggled to get a foothold in the game, and when they did create chances for striker Ahletdin Israilov, they largely went to waste. Unsurprisingly, this ended as a 0-0 draw that wouldn't live long in the memory.

Kyrgyzstan - 0

Guatemala - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jhonathan López (Guatemala, AM/WB R - CD Marquense)

 

The Gambia vs Moldova - at Stade Brikama, Banjul

Moldova winger Nicolae Josan was inches away from firing his team into the lead in the 9th minute. Another nine minutes passed, and then the score was 1-0... to The Gambia. Mustapha Jarju curled a magnificent free-kick past the Moldovan wall and goalkeeper Stanislav Namaşco to kick off the scoring. Though Namaşco did well later on to stop Modou Barrow or Ebrima Sohna from making further inroads before half-time, he would concede again seven minutes after the break. Another free-kick caught their defence out when Kristian Brix's delivery fell perfectly for Tijan Jaiteh, who volleyed it in superbly. The Gambia would go on to win 2-0, thanks in no small part to some Moldovan indiscipline that saw the visitors concede 20 fouls.

The Gambia - 2 (Mustapha Jarju 18, Tijan Jaiteh 52)

Moldova - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Mustapha Jarju (The Gambia, M/ST/AM C - KSK Hasselt)

 

Fiji vs St Vincent & The Grenadines - at National Stadium, Suva

St Vincent & The Grenadines strikers Myron Samuel and Cornelis Stewart each provided early threats to Fijian goalkeeper Beniaminio Mateinaqara, who just about did enough to stave them off. Although St Vincent couldn't break the deadlock in the first period, they tried again in the second - with a bit more success. Left wing-back Jolanshoy McDowall's cross into the box was spilled by Mateinaqara to Samuel, whose simple finish finally made it 1-0. Fiji responded brightly, although Roy Krishna's 57th-minute header couldn't quite beat Dwayne Sandy in the visiting goal. By the 82nd minute, Vincy Heat were red-hot. Azinho Solomon came off the bench to drive in a superb McDowall free-kick and seal a 2-0 first-leg win for St Vincent. However, goalkeeper Sandy would have to miss the second leg after straining his wrist late on.

Fiji - 0

St Vincent & The Grenadines - 2 (Myron Samuel 56, Azinho Solomon 82)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jolanshoy McDowall (St Vincent & The Grenadines, D/WB/M/AM L - Avenues United)

 

French Guiana vs Qatar - at Stade de Baduel, Cayenne

It'd been plain sailing for French Guiana in the World Championship thus far, but in Qatar, they appeared to have finally found their match. Al-Annabi - and their raft of naturalised players - were never in any real danger of losing this first leg. Indeed, the likes of Sebastián Soria and captain Mohammed Razak were unlucky not to score in the first half, as French Guiana goalkeeper Simon Lugier was in inspired form. Qatar's long-awaited moment of glory would come after 71 minutes, when Razak headed in a superb floated cross from Hamid Ismaeil. Had Lugier not saved from Rodrigo Tabata in the 87th minute, Qatar might well have finished 2-0 up. Nevertheless, a 1-0 lead was still a good one for the men in maroon ahead of their home leg.

French Guiana - 0

Qatar - 1 (Mohammed Razak 71)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Hamid Ismaeil (Qatar, D/M/AM R - Al-Rayyan)

 

Bermuda vs Lebanon - at National Sports Centre Stadium, Hamilton

Lebanon frontman Jerónimo Amione rued his luck in the 24th minute, when his header from Soony Saad's deep cross clipped the bar and went behind. Meanwhile, Bermuda striker Nahki Wells was back from injury... and by the 37th minute, he was back in the goals. However, his opening strike for the Gombay Warriors would be cancelled out just two minutes later by a Lebanon header, scored by Mohammad Haidar. Amione then struck just before half-time to give the Cedars a 2-1 half-time lead. Ten minutes into the second half, Bermuda were back level, with Wells scoring again from an incisive breakaway. Again, though, Wells would only have a couple of minutes to savour the moment before Lebanon hit back. Attacking midfielder Abbas Atwi, also known as Onika, put the Cedars back in front in the 57th minute - and this time, Lebanon did not look back. Saad grabbed the visitors' fourth goal in scrappy fashion on 69 minutes to leave them a clear advantage after the first leg.

Bermuda - 2 (Nahki Wells 37,55)

Lebanon - 4 (Mohammad Haidar 39, Jerónimo Amione 42, Abbas Atwi 57, Soony Saad 69)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Nahki Wells (Bermuda, ST C - Huddersfield Town)

 

Nicaragua vs Madagascar - at Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez, Managua

As you'll probably suspect, Madagascar's team contained some players with very long names. Among them was defensive midfielder Jean-Stephan Raheriharimanana, who - sensibly - preferred to be known only as Dada. He was very much 'the daddy' in the 35th minute, when his powerful strike from a deflected Andria corner gave Madagascar the opener. Nicaragua's only shot at an equaliser before half-time was fired wide by Samuel Wilson on 44 minutes. Wilson fared slightly better in the 77th minute, when his shot was parried by Pascal Honoré. By then, though, La Azul y Blanco were already 2-0 down, Lalaina Nomenjanahary having doubled the visitors' lead a minute earlier. Barea, as the Malagasy national team is nicknamed, would finish with a third goal, scored by centre-half Thierry Ratsimbazafy after 87 minutes.

Nicaragua - 0

Madagascar - 3 (Dada 35, Lalaina Nomenjanahary 76, Thierry Ratsimbazafy 87)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Lalaina Nomenjanahary (Madagascar, AM/D/WB/M L - Lens)

 

Tajikistan vs Palestine - at Central, Dushanbe

Quick Palestinian winger Ali Khatib exploited a sluggish Tajikistani defence in the 14th minute, when he ran onto an Imad Khalili cross and met it with a superb close-range half-volley. Khatib's next shot - set up by a Jaka Ihbeisheh free-kick in the 25th minute - rattled off the crossbar before bouncing back into play. That close shave scared Tajikistan into life, and they were much more dangerous going forward after the first half-hour. Palestine keeper Ramzi Saleh was stretched twice just before half-time, first by a shot from Davronjon Tuhtasunov, and then a cross from Rahmatullo Fuzaylov. The Persian Lions looked even more menacing in the 82nd minute. Having survived a few more scares earlier in the first half, Tajikistan got themselves level through Fuzaylov's excellent delivery to Qomil Saidov, who finished at the far post. Palestine were left wondering if they'd missed a massive trick.

Tajikistan - 1 (Qomil Saidov 82)

Palestine - 1 (Ali Khatib 14)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Rahmatullo Fuzaylov (Tajikistan, D/WB R - CSKA-Pomir Dushanbe)

 

Turkmenistan vs Azerbaijan - at Olimpiya Stadiony, Aşgabat

These two ex-Soviet rivals went at each other hammer-and-tongs - or, more specifically, hammer-and-sickles - throughout the whole 90 minutes. Turkmenistan had the best scoring chance of the first half when Wladimir Bayramow slid Dawid Sarkisow's cross against the post in the 31st minute. They certainly appeared to have the upper hand... until right-winger Artur Geworkyan suffered a serious season-threatening hip injury in the 53rd minute. Azerbaijan had even more reason to be encouraged when their right-winger Tugrul Erat went down under a penalty-area challenge from Şöhrat Söyünow in the 71st minute. Substitute Cavid Imamverdiyev took the penalty... and he powered it into the cop corner for 1-0. Turkmenistan struck back within two minutes through Mämmedaly Garadanow, only to fall apart completely in the final 10 minutes. Imamverdiyev calmly slotted in a second goal for Azerbaijan on 81 minutes, and Córdoba midfielder Eddy secured the win six minutes later.

Turkmenistan - 1 (Mämmedaly Garadanow 73)

Azerbaijan - 3 (Cavid Imamverdiyev pen71,81, Eddy 87)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Tugrul Erat (Azerbaijan, M/AM/D/WB R - Fortuna Düsseldorf)

 

Guinea-Bissau vs Philippines - at Estádio 24 de Setembro, Bissau

For a very long time, it looked like this match would finish in an insipid goalless draw. Guinea-Bissau were taking the game to a mediocre-looking Philippines team, but their attack appeared to lack a cutting edge. Then came the 74th minute. After intercepting a Filipino offensive, the Djurtus countered through a Mamadu cross that Sami drove home at the back post. About a minute later, Philippines midfielder Bernat Alomar attempted to equalise from long-range, only for Jonas Mendes to make a superb catch. That was just the Azkals' second shot on target, and these street dogs' barks were proving to be worse than their bite. The opposite was true of Djurtus striker Amido Baldé in injury time, when his finish from another sublime Mamadu cross gave Guinea-Bissau's wild dogs a 2-0 lead in the battle of the canines.

Guinea-Bissau - 2 (Sami 74, Amido Baldé 90)

Philippines - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Mamadu (Guinea-Bissau, D L - Portimonense)

 

Tahiti vs Canada - at Stade Olympique, Papeete

Tahiti and Canada were oceans apart in all sorts of ways, and that was very much the case on the football field as well. In the 23rd minute, veteran forward Oliver Occéan exchanged passes with his younger strike partner Lucas Cavallini before the latter tucked Canada's first goal into the bottom corner. Occéan had missed the target on three occasions before setting up goal, and he would send two more shots wide afterwards. The Norway-based 33-year-old finally hit the target in the 43rd minute, heading in a sublime cross from Burnley wideman Scott Arfield. Tahiti were struggling to keep their heads above water, although an unfortunate own goal from Canada defender Steven Vitória in the 65th minute gave them hope... briefly. Occéan pulled them back beneath the surface a minute later with his second and the Canucks' third goal. The final say in this first leg went to New England Revolution midfielder Gershon Koffie, who wrapped up a 4-1 win with four minutes left to play. Were Toa Aito now living on borrowed time?

Tahiti - 1 (Steven Vitória og65)

Canada - 4 (Lucas Cavallini 23, Oliver Occéan 43,66, Gershon Koffie 86)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Oliver Occéan (Canada, ST/AM C - Odds BK)

Edited by CFuller

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Really enjoying the match reports CFuller. Its really giving me the urge to do another story like this :D

Lets hope the European teams in this round do us proud

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Really enjoying the match reports CFuller. Its really giving me the urge to do another story like this :D

Lets hope the European teams in this round do us proud

You can never have enough Mark Wilson stories on FMS, so I look forward to seeing what you can come up with.

We're starting to see more and more of the European teams now, and it'll be interesting to see which of them come on strong and which of them falter.

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Round 2, Leg 1 Results

10 October 2015

Indonesia vs Ethiopia - at Gelora Bung Karno, Jakarta

The first half was fairly close, with Indonesia looking marginally more likely to score first. It came as a bit of a surprise, then, that they conceded a penalty just before half-time, when midfielder Ahmad Bustomi was accused of pushing Ethiopian captain Abebaw Butako. As the 44th minute got underway, left-back Amin Askar converted the penalty to send Ethiopia 1-0 up. Incredibly, Askar would create a second Ethiopian goal right at the end of the very same minute! Indonesia were left stunned again when Salahuddin Said's header from an Askar cross made it 2-0. To make things even worse for the Garuda, their main striker Greg Nwokolo broke his collarbone in an aerial collision with Ethiopia defender Biyadiglign Elias just before the hour mark. Butako piled on the misery for Indonesia in the 79th minute by giving the Walias a 3-0 advantage. Although Patrick Wanggai scored for the hosts later on, the Garuda would still be faced with an improbable task in the second leg.

Indonesia - 1 (Patrick Wanggai 87)

Ethiopia - 3 (Amin Askar pen44, Salahuddin Said 44, Abebaw Butako 79)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Amin Askar (Ethiopia, M/AM R - Sanliurfaspor)

 

Guadeloupe vs Malawi - at Stade René Serge Nabajoth, Les Abymes

Despite having centre-back Cédric Avinel and winger Claudio Beauvue booked early on, Guadeloupe made the brighter start and took the lead on 13 minutes. After Brice Jovial's long-range strike was blocked Malawi winger Micium Mhone, the ball rebounded to Ludovic Sylvestre, whose follow-up shot went in off the bar. Avinel would also hit the Malawi crossbar from an Elliot Grandin free-kick in the 34th minute, although the woodwork saved the visitors on that occasion. As Guadeloupe turned up the heat on the Flames, goalkeeper Richard Chipuwa wilted in the 48th minute, spilling a Loïc Nestor cross that Jovial subsequently finished off. Malawi then put together a few attacks of their own before Luka Milanzi got them back in contention in the 80th minute. Seven minutes later, though, Les Gwada Boys doused the phoenix-like Flames of revival. Malawi defender Limbikani Mzava was alleged to have caught Beauvue with a high boot, and Grandin stepped forward to seal a 3-1 home win from the spot.

Guadeloupe - 3 (Ludovic Sylvestre 13, Brice Jovial 48, Elliot Grandin pen88)

Malawi - 1 (Luka Milanzi 80)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Loïc Nestor (Guadeloupe, D RC/WB R - Valenciennes)

 

Burundi vs Syria - at Stade Prince Louis Rwagasore, Bujumbura

One of the tournament's most extraordinary matches so far began with a blistering start from Burundi. Syria's defence was caught out in the 8th minute by Ndabashinze Dugary's cross to Saidi Ntibazonkiza, who opened the scoring. By the 10th minute, the Swallows were flying. Dugary continued his fine form with a second assist, this time for Laudy Mavugo, who drove the ball home from a tight angle. In the 24th minute, however, Syria's Eagles managed to clip the Swallows' wings. Omar Al-Soma's header from Fahd Youssef's free-kick signalled the start of what would be a sensational comeback. The second stage of Syria's resurgence came in the penultimate minute of the first half, as Mahmoud Al-Maowas smashed in a stunning 25-yarder. Two minutes into the second half, it was a case of mission complete for the visitors. The home fans could only look on grimly as Sanharib Malki scored from close range and put Syria in control. A narrow miss from Cédric Amissi in the 82nd minute would be as close as Burundi got to remedying the situation.

Burundi - 2 (Saidi Ntibazonkiza 8, Laudy Mavugo 10)

Syria - 3 (Omar Al-Soma 24, Mahmoud Al-Maowas 44, Sanharib Malki 47)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ndabashinze Dugary (Burundi, AM/M R - La Louvière Centre)

 

Barbados vs Bahrain - at Waterford National Stadium, Bridgetown

When Barbados failed to clear an Abdulla Omar cross out of their penalty box in the second minute, Jaycee John was free to fire Bahrain into the lead. That lead would only stay intact until the 18th minute, when the Bajan Tridents hit Bahrain on the counter. Tom Soares got past goalkeeper Sayed Mohammed Sayed Jaffar to knock Mario Harte's through-ball into the net and level the scores. The visitors would renew their attacking threat in the second half, and they were back in front by the 70th minute. Omar provided another sublime cross for Jaycee John to run towards and nod past Keasel Broome in the Barbadian goal. If the Caribbean side were to take their World Championship campaign any further, they would need to beat Bahrain on their own soil.

Barbados - 1 (Tom Soares 18)

Bahrain - 2 (Jaycee John 2,70)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Abdulla Omar (Bahrain, D/WB/M R - Al-Ettifaq)

 

Tanzania vs Botswana - at Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, Dar es Salaam

A few early misses from Abdi Kassam Sadallah suggested that Tanzania would pose seeded Botswana a real threat in this first leg. The truth was very different. On 23 minutes, Phenyo Mongala knocked a lovely ball to Moemedi Moatlhaping, who cut it into the far corner of the net for Botswana. Four minutes later, Thom Mpoto went close to equalising for Tanzania in a match that would soon be anything but. The visiting Zebras earned their stripes again in the 40th minute, when Mogakolodi Ngele finished a left-wing centre from Galabgwe Moyana. Botswana's next goal, in the 53rd minute, was sublimely struck into the far corner by Moyana. The Taifa Stars continued to struggle as strikers Mbwana Samatto and Thomas Ulimwengu tried and failed to get them back in the game. Ngele got a fourth goal for Botswana in the 87th minute to end Tanzania's afternoon from hell.

Tanzania - 0

Botswana - 4 (Moemedi Moatlhaping 23, Mogakolodi Ngele 41,87, Galabgwe Moyana 53)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Mogakolodi Ngele (Botswana, ST C - Mamelodi Sundowns)

 

Thailand vs St Lucia - at Rajamangala National Stadium, Bangkok

It was a case of persistence paying off for Thailand as they tried to take a first-leg lead against St Lucia. Forwards Chanathip Songkrasin and Teerasil Dangda were constantly thwarted by some solid defending from the St Lucians. Left-back Kurt Frederick and centre-half Sabbatus Hunte were particularly impressive, as they each made several potentially goal-saving interceptions. Alas, their brave efforts would be for zero reward. The War Elephants finally broke through their resistance with a last-minute counter-attack that saw Chanathip Songkrasin score from skipper Theerathon Boonmatan's cross and grab a hard-earned victory for Thailand.

Thailand - 1 (Chanathip Songkrasin 90)

St Lucia - 0

MAN OF THE MATCH: Theerathon Boonmatan (Thailand, D/WB L - Buriram United)

 

Myanmar vs Dominican Republic - at Bogyoke Aung San Stadium, Yangon

Dominican Republic could boast about having a Real Madrid striker in their team. That man was Mariano, who almost gave them the lead with a 20th-minute half-volley that was well caught by Myanmar goalie Thi Ha Si Thu. Mariano fared slightly better with his next real effort in the 33rd minute. His first-time shot may have been scuffed into the net off Burmese defender Aung Hein Kyaw, but it was a decent opening goal, nonetheless. It would also be the only goal of the first leg. The Dominican Republic defence, led by Freiburg centre-half Heinz Barmettler, would not be troubled a great deal, as the White Angels' shooting was disappointing at best and sinful at worst.

Myanmar - 0

Dominican Republic - 1 (Mariano 33)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Heinz Barmettler (Dominican Republic, D C - Freiburg)

 

Guyana vs Kuwait - at Cricket Ground, Georgetown

Ronson Williams was a busy man in the Guyana goal during the first half. Faisal Al-Habi, Hussain Fadel and Fahad Al-Hajri all went close to giving Kuwait the lead, with all being denied by some great keeping from Williams. Kuwait did at last break through in the 44th minute, when Saif Al-Hashan smashed a superb effort beyond the custodian's reach. Guyana replied in the 48th minute, as Cameron Jerome set up a cool finish for Jerome Thomas. That would be Thomas' last major contribution before he was forced off with a groin strain in the 62nd minute. Guyana would be trailing again by the 64th minute, as Bader Al-Motawa sent another powerful shot past Williams. The Golden Jaguars then showed real determination to battle back and grab a second equaliser just before full-time. Unsurprisingly, it was star striker Jerome who delighted the people of Georgetown with an impressive header that left this Round 2 tie very nicely poised.

Guyana - 2 (Jerome Thomas 48, Cameron Jerome 90)

Kuwait - 2 (Saif Al-Hashan 44, Bader Al-Motawa 64)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Faisal Al-Harbi (Kuwait, ST/AM C - Al-Jahra)

 

Hong Kong vs Niger - at Hong Kong Stadium, So Kon Po

Niger captain Maazou and his strike partner Daouda Kamilou were all over the Hong Kong defence in the first period. It took some strong goalkeeping from Yapp Hung Fai and some resilient defending to withstand the prolonged assaults and keep the scores level. However, Hong Kong couldn't maintain their resolve in the second half. Niger's substitute midfielder Abdoul Ousmane breached the backline in the 53rd minute with a sublime pass to Maazou, who opened the scoring. Three minutes later, a missed interception from Hong Kong defender Jean-Jacques Kilama allowed a crossfield ball from Mohamed Soumaïla to find Maazou and send him clean through. Maazou's second goal would prove to be the clincher. Although Hong Kong's Nigerian-born striker Alexander Akande scored against the Nigeriens in the 61st minute, there would be no stunning comeback from the hosts.

Hong Kong - 1 (Alexander Akande 61)

Niger - 2 (Maazou 53,56)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Maazou (Niger, ST C - Randers)

 

Central African Republic vs St Kitts & Nevis - at Stade Barthélemy Boganda, Bangui

Febian Brandy was the toast of St Kitts & Nevis after 12 minutes, when he drove in a Harry Panayiotou pass and gave his nation the lead. Three of the Kittian starting XI were born in England - Brandy, Panayiotou, and Romaine Sawyers, who was frustrated to see the former fire his through-ball over the bar on 15 minutes. Three minutes after that, St Kitts goalie Julani Archibald caught a promising effort from Central African captain Eloge Enza-Yamissi. When the Wild Beasts did strike back in the 37th minute, it was Eloge's younger brother Manassé Enza-Yamissi who claimed the equaliser. The second half would also be fairly close. Panayiotou had an effort pushed behind by CAR goalkeeper Geoffrey Lembet in the 58th minute, while Archibald saved from Eloge and Brice Zimbori later on. At full-time, with the scores still at 1-1, this tie remained too close to call.

Central African Republic - 1 (Manassé Enza-Yamissi 37)

St Kitts & Nevis - 1 (Febian Brandy 12)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Foxi (Central African Republic, AM LCR/ST C - Gaziantep Belediyespor)

 

Georgia vs Macedonia - at Mikheil Meskhi, Tbilisi

Macedonia's goalkeeper/captain Tome Pacovski made a fantastic acrobatic save on 21 minutes to tip over a powerful strike from Georgia winger Tornike Okriashvili. That would be the Georgians' best moment of the game, as their attacking threat was greatly reduced after Okriashvili damaged his foot later in the first half. Macedonia also had one of their players get injured before half-time, with winger Agim Ibraimi straining his groin. The Red Lynxes still had one game-changing attacking player who was fit and raring to go. That player was a certain Goran Pandev - once feared by defenders across Europe, and particularly in Serie A. Now aged 32 and still going strong at Genoa, Pandev showed signs of his old magic in the 61st minute, when he prodded a Krste Velkoski centre across the goal line. Macedonia led 1-0, and they would take that slender advantage into the second leg at home.

Georgia - 0

Macedonia - 1 (Goran Pandev 61)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jaba Kankava (Georgia, DM/M C - Stade Reims)

 

Kazakhstan vs Oman - at Astana Arena, Astana

The best-known player in Oman's squad was unquestionably Ali Al-Habsi - their long-time goalkeeper. When the Reading man crashed into his left-back Abdul Salam Al-Mukhaini in the 34th minute and broke his arm, things looked very bleak for the Middle Eastern side. The less-heralded Badar Juma had to take Al-Habsi's place in goal, but he proved his worth by saving from Tanat Nuserbaev five minutes later. Sadly, for Juma, his clean sheet was dirtied in the 63rd minute by an impressive low finish from Kazakhstan playmaker Bauyrzhan Islamkhan. The Hawks would be leading for only two minutes. Oman forward Abdulaziz Al-Muqbali dribbled past two Kazakh defenders before squaring the ball to Imad Al-Hoseni, whose goal would earn Oman a creditable away draw. However, they would be without another player - left-back Jamal Baksh - for the second leg after he strained his neck.

Kazakhstan - 1 (Bauyrzhan Islamkhan 63)

Oman - 1 (Imad Al-Hoseni 65)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Nurbol Zhumaskaliev (Kazakhstan, M/AM C - Tobol Kastanai)

 

Curaçao vs Belize - at Korsou, Noord Zapateer

The first minute hadn't even been completed when Curaçao won a penalty, thanks to Belize defender Trevor Lennen's careless trip on Papito Merencia. Quenten Martinus blasted in said penalty, and Curaçao were leading... until Harrison Róchez volleyed in Nahjib Guerra's free-kick for the Jaguars on 20 minutes. After drawing level, Belize had to survive a host of Curaçaoan chances, included a Jeremy de Nooijer header that Róchez nodded off the line just before the interval. de Nooijer was not best pleased with that, and Róchez would cause him more pain on 64 minutes, drawing a foul in the penalty area from the Levski Sofia midfielder. The visitors' penalty would have the same outcome as the hosts', as Ian Gaynair gave Belize a 2-1 lead that they would just about cling onto. Having missed bags of chances to put the game firmly in their favour, Curaçao lost their cool towards the end, with de Nooijer one of four players to see a yellow card in the final 30 minutes.

Curaçao - 1 (Quenten Martinus pen2)

Belize - 2 (Harrison Róchez 20, Ian Gaynair pen64)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jeremy de Nooijer (Curaçao, DM/M C - Levski Sofia)

 

Vietnam vs Belarus - at My Dinh, Ha Noi

Belarus would make their early dominance count by taking the lead after 20 minutes. Nikolay Signevich's shot from a brilliant Igor Shitov cross was parried by Vietnam goalkeeper Trinh Anh Duc, but Igor Stasevich finished the rebound to silence the home fans. The Golden Stars thanked their lucky stars that they didn't concede again in the first half, but fortune would not favour them in the second minute of the second period. Having won a penalty off Belarus midfielder Stanislav Dragun, Gonzalo stepped up confidently to take the spot-kick... and Sergey Veremko pushed it away. Vietnam would then have to withstand more Belarusian attacks to prevent things from getting worse still. Although centre-back Mai Tien Thanh picked up a calf strain in the 61st minute, the hosts emerged largely unscathed and weren't completely out of Round 3 contention by the time the final whistle blew.

Vietnam - 0

Belarus - 1 (Igor Stasevich 20)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Nikita Korzun (Belarus, DM/M C - Dynamo Kiev)

 

Cambodia vs Sierra Leone - at Stade National, Phnom Penh

A crazy first half began with two goals in the first 11 minutes from Sierra Leone. A powerful shot from Sheriff Suma was followed up within three minutes by an impressive header from Hull City defender Curtis Davies. Mohamed Bangura could've scored a third goal from the penalty spot on 26 minutes, but Cambodia keeper Simon Tracol made a fantastic save. Alusine Kamara, who had won that penalty after being fouled by Bin Thierry, would make it 3-0 to the Leone Stars in the 34th minute. Khim Borey replied with Cambodia's first goal a minute later, only for Ibrahim Kallay to restore the visitors' three-goal cushion shortly afterwards. The first half would finish with each team scoring again. Tith Dina bagged a scrappy second for the Angkor Warriors before Bangura made amends for his penalty miss with Sierra Leone's fifth. A superb free-kick by Chan Vathanaka in the 70th minute reduced the hosts' arrears to 5-3, but it was their opponents who would have the final say. Alhaji Kamara's finish in the 89th minute saw him become the sixth different scorer of Sierra Leone's six away goals, and the African side now looked almost certain to reach Round 3.

Cambodia - 3 (Khim Borey 35, Tith Dina 41, Chan Vathanaka 70)

Sierra Leone - 6 (Sheriff Suma 8, Curtis Davies 11, Alusine Kamara 34, Ibrahim Kallay 37, Mohamed Bangura 45, Alhaji Kamara 89)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Michael Lahoud (Sierra Leone, M RC/AM R - New York Cosmos)

 

Chad vs Lithuania - at Stade National, N'Djamena

Chad were flying in this competition, but reality finally hit home when they faced Lithuania. Saulius Mikoliunas got Lithuania up and running after 12 minutes, when his corner was headed in by Polish-based left-winger Fedor Tchernykh. As the men in yellow began to take control, Les Sao were put in real peril. Experienced Lithuanian winger Mikoliunas wreaked more havoc on 58 minutes, as his cross ricocheted off Chadian defender Kevin Nicaise and deflected into the net. Chad really struggled to come back from 2-0 down, although a high foul count didn't exactly help their cause. A third goal in the final minute certainly didn't hinder Lithuania's charge towards the next phase. Tautvydas Eliosius finished the game off after a wonderful assist by a Zalgiris Vilnius team-mate... yep, that man Mikoliunas again.

Chad - 0

Lithuania - 3 (Fedor Tchernykh 12, Kevin Nicaise og58, Tautvydas Eliosius 90)

MAN OF THE MATCH: Saulius Mikoliunas (Lithuania, AM/D/WB/M R - Zalgiris Vilnius)

Edited by CFuller

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Ohhhh Myanmar, my last hope of seeing a SAFF Neighbour progress seems faint now

Yes, I'll admit that it doesn't look good for them. :(

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Round 2, Leg 2 Results

13 October 2015

Mozambique vs Luxembourg - at Estádio Nacional do Zimpeto, Maputo

Maurice Deville may have scored both of Luxembourg's goals in the first leg, but his impact in the second would be negligible. Having strained his groin in only the fourth minute, Deville limped through most of the match before being subbed late on. He did, though, set up Luxembourg's only shot on target in this match after 13 minutes. Deville drove the ball ahead of David Caiado, who struck from 25 yards out but couldn't beat Ricardo Campos in the Mozambique goal. At the other end, Mozambique's shooting was largely wasteful. Though winger Domingues did test visiting goalkeeper Jonathan Joubert with a couple of close-range, Os Mambas were unable to get the goal they needed to save their World Championship skins. After a goalless second leg, it was Luxembourg who progressed to Round 3.

Mozambique - 0

Luxembourg - 0

[Luxembourg win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Maxime Chanot (Luxembourg, D RC - KV Kortrijk)

 

Antigua & Barbuda vs Malta - at Antigua Recreation Ground, Saint John's

Despite trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Antigua & Barbuda levelled the aggregate scores with the tournament's quickest goal to date. There were just 34 seconds between Antigua kicking off and Eugene Kirwan giving them the opening goal. Malta were denied an early response in the 11th minute, when André Schembri's header from Alex Muscat's cross grazed the bar. Schembri tried his luck again five minutes later, and this time, he was able to find the net from a left-wing delivery by Clayton Failla. Then, just before the half-hour, the Falcons took full control. Schembri drove in another excellent Muscat cross to leave Antigua & Barbuda needing three goals to stay in the tournament. The Benna Boys couldn't even get one. While Dexter Blackstock and Calaum Jahraldo-Martin had most of the hosts' chances, it was defender Quinton Griffith who had their best one when he hit the woodwork in injury time.

Antigua & Barbuda - 1 (Eugene Kirwan 1)

Malta - 2 (André Schembri 16,30)

[Malta win 3-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: André Schembri (Malta, ST C/AM LC - Omonoia Nicosia)

 

Cuba vs São Tomé & Príncipe - at Estadio Pedro Marrero, Havana

Both sides missed their fair share of chances in the first half, with Cuba knowing that one goal would at least take them into a penalty shoot-out. When Silva volleyed in a Joel Pires free-kick for São Tomé & Príncipe after 44 minutes, though, El Leones del Caribe found that they now had to score three to win. Liban Pérez could've got the first of them in the 57th minute, but Dungue Rosário made a secure catch for São Tomé & Príncipe. Cuba would have better luck five minutes later, as Aliannis Urgellés' cross sliced through the Seleção before being finished by Alberto Gómez. Aside from an Urgellés shot that was blocked by Aykemms in the 80th minute, Cuba would not get close to scoring again. Their winning streak may have come to an end, but the underdogs of São Tomé & Príncipe had made it through yet another round!

Cuba - 1 (Alberto Gómez 62)

São Tomé & Príncipe - 1 (Silva 44)

[são Tomé & Príncipe win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Aliannis Urgellés (Cuba, D RL/DM C - FC Guantánamo)

 

Zimbabwe vs Mauritania - at Rufaro Stadium, Harare

Mauritania may have been really up against it at 3-0 down from the first leg, but they did at least attempt a second-leg comeback. Oumar N'Diaye was inches away from heading in a corner from his captain Moussa Baghayoko in the 27th minute. More chances would come and go in the first half, with Adama Ba and Dominique da Silva each being denied by Zimbabwe goalkeeper George Chigova. The visitors' hopes were raised further when Zimbabwe striker Cuthbert Malajila twisted his knee in the 56th minute. Nine minutes after that, though, Mauritania were dealt a fatal blow. N'Diaye could only head Costa Nhamoinesu's cross as far as Willard Katsande, whose half-volley effectively put the Warriors into the next round. That would actually be Zimbabwe's only shot on target in the entire match. Despite giving their all, Mauritania only had an 80th-minute equaliser from Ely Cheick Voulany to show for their efforts.

Zimbabwe - 1 (Willard Katsande 65)

Mauritania - 1 (Ely Cheick Voulany 80)

[Zimbabwe win 4-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Willard Katsande (Zimbabwe, M RC - Kaizer Chiefs)

 

Kenya vs Grenada - at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani

Kenya started as they meant to go on by attacking the Grenada goal right from the word go. Spice Boys goalkeeper Shemel Louison put up a brave resistance, but he was beaten in the 22nd minute by Aboud Omar's rebound shot after he had parried Victor Wanyama's original effort. Kenya would continue to dominate, with Wanyama and McDonald Mariga each having a good number of shots from midfield. Patrick Oboya went very close to scoring the Harambee Stars' second goal on 73 minutes, only to clip the top of the bar. Only a combination of misfortune and the excellent Louison prevented Kenya from extending their 5-2 aggregate lead, but it didn't really matter, as they coasted through and the Spice Boys said goodbye.

Kenya - 1 (Aboud Omar 22)

Grenada - 0

[Kenya win 5-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Ayub Masika (Kenya, AM/D/WB R - Lierse)

 

Namibia vs East Timor - at Sam Nujoma Stadium, Windhoek

Eyebrows were raised when Diogo Rangel scored an impressive long-range strike for East Timor in the seventh minute. That levelled the aggregate scores and left some people wondering if the visitors could spring another World Championship surprise. Then Jerome Louis headed in Letu Shatimuene's corner to put Namibia back in the ascendancy after 27 minutes. East Timor were now really feeling the pressure, and that showed in their lack of discipline. Three players were booked in the second half, including defensive midfielder Rodrigo Silva, who picked up a second yellow card after upending Wycliff Kambonde on 59 minutes. Losing a player would prove terminal for East Timor. Larry Horaeb struck the post in the 83rd minute, but a clinical follow-up sent Namibia through 3-1 on aggregate. The sun had set on O Sol Nascente.

Namibia - 2 (Jerome Louis 27, Larry Horaeb 83)

East Timor - 1 (Diogo Rangel 7)

[Namibia win 3-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Larry Horaeb (Namibia, D R - unattached)

 

Guatemala vs Kyrgyzstan - at Estadio Mateo Flores, Ciudad de Guatemala

Kyrgyzstan had the better chances in the first half, with Ahletdin Israilov going particularly close for them on 18 minutes. However, it was Guatemala who broke the deadlock after 36 minutes. Midfielder Marlon Sequén's free-kick was finished by centre-back Carlos Castrillo, and it seemed that Los Chapines would be heading for Round 3. Kyrgyzstan would make them think again in the 60th minute. Vitalij Lux got behind the Guatemalan defence to latch onto an Israilov cross, and although Ricardo Jérez kept out his first shot, the second found the net. Guatemala then battled to try and regain the lead, but Kyrgyz captain Valeriy Kashuba made two excellent saves from substitutes José Contreras and Carlos Kamiani. Los Chapines' third sub - forward Kendal Herrarte - had to come off with a damaged heel in the 84th minute, and his exit would prove key. After holding on for the final few minutes, the White Falcons of Kyrgyzstan flew into the next round, courtesy of the away goals rule.

Guatemala - 1 (Carlos Castrillo 36)

Kyrgyzstan - 1 (Vitalij Lux 60)

[1-1 on aggregate, Kyrgyzstan win on away goals]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Marlon Sequén (Guatemala, M/AM C - CSD Municipal)

 

Moldova vs The Gambia - at Zimbru, Chişinău

The Gambia made the slightly stronger start in a match that would soon see tempers boil over. Moldova captain Alexandru Epureanu was booked in the 5th minute, and then again in the 41st minute following a trip on Modou Barrow. Moldova suffered without their defensive lynchpin, and Ebrima Sohna's 45th-minute goal put The Gambia on the brink of Round 3. The hosts now needed four second-half goals to progress, and they started with a scrappy strike from Igor Bugaiov in the 49th minute. The Gambia then sat back a bit more to try and stop Moldova from building up any more momentum. However, in the 72nd minute, is was their turn to lose a player to a red card. Sohna had already been booked in the first half, so when he tripped Bugaiov, he was almost immediately pointed to the tunnel. His dismissal would not prove costly for the Gambia, as although Gheorghe Ovseannicov won the game for Moldova in the 90th minute, it was too little too late as far as the tie was concerned.

Moldova - 2 (Igor Bugaiov 49, Gheorghe Ovseannicov 90)

The Gambia - 1 (Ebrima Sohna 45)

[The Gambia win 3-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Modou Barrow (The Gambia, AM R/ST C - Swansea City)

 

St Vincent & The Grenadines vs Fiji - at Arnos Vale Ground, Arnos Vale

Both goalkeepers were severely tested in the first half, but neither would be beaten until the 38th minute. Fiji custodian Radike Ulaiasi Seruvatu was unable to stop a Myron Samuel half-volley that put St Vincent & The Grenadines well in control of the tie. Maika Waqa put Fiji back in contention on 40 minutes by beating St Vincent keeper Winslow McDowald, who then had to try and save a penalty from Roy Krishna three minutes later. He couldn't, and the Bula Boys were potentially one goal away from taking the lead... until Samuel helped himself to another goal on the stroke of half-time. Vinny Heat would take that momentum into the second half, as Damal Francis netted within half a minute of the restart. St Vincent would all but wrap up the win on 55 minutes, with Cornelius Stewart scoring after a third assist from the outstanding Jolanshoy McDowall. There was no way back for Fiji after that.

St Vincent & The Grenadines - 4 (Myron Samuel 38,45, Damal Francis 46, Cornelius Stewart 55)

Fiji - 2 (Maika Waqa 40, Roy Krishna pen43)

[st Vincent & The Grenadines win 6-2 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jolanshoy McDowall (St Vincent & The Grenadines, D/WB/M/AM L - Avenues United)

 

Qatar vs French Guiana - at Khalifa International Stadium, Doha

French Guiana needed to beat Qatar away from home, but their hosts were determined not to let them get back in the tie. After putting their opponents under constant pressure in the first period, Qatar went ahead early in the second half. Uruguay-born striker Sebastián Soria scored 18 seconds into the period after his team-mate Mohammed Muntari had struck the post. Soria was denied a second goal in the 65th minute by French Guiana keeper Simon Lugier, who then made a follow-up save from Akram Afif. Soria did, though, secure his brace in the 76th minute with a little help from another South American import - Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo Tabata. Qatar were safely through to Round 3, while French Guiana were at journey's end.

Qatar - 2 (Sebastián Soria 46,76)

French Guiana - 0

[Qatar win 3-0 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Sebastián Soria (Qatar, ST C - Al-Rayyan)

 

Lebanon vs Bermuda - at Camille Chamoun Sports City Stadium, Beirut

Two decades on from Shaun Goater's heyday, Bermuda had another goalscoring machine in Nahki Wells. The Huddersfield Town man got his sixth goal of the tournament after 15 minutes... and it wouldn't be his last. Although Mohammad Haidar struck back for Lebanon in the 19th minute, Wells restored Bermuda's lead from a Reggie Lambe half-volley in the 33rd. Less than a minute after that, Jerónimo Amione got the Cedars back on terms. A clear pattern was developing, and that would continue in the second half. A superb free-kick from Jahnai Raynor allowed Wells to secure his hat-trick on 59 minutes, but then Lebanon claimed a third equaliser through Hassan Maatouk on 70. As the Gombay Warriors' hopes began to fade, Wells kept them alive with his fourth goal of the night - and his NINTH in total - after 79 minutes. Alas, that too would be cancelled out by the Cedars. Amione's second goal in the 85th minute secured Lebanon a 4-4 draw, and - more importantly - an 8-6 aggregate victory!

Lebanon - 4 (Mohammad Haidar 19, Jerónimo Amione 34,85, Hassan Maatouk 70)

Bermuda - 4 (Nahki Wells 15,33,59,79)

[Lebanon win 8-6 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Nahki Wells (Bermuda, ST C - Huddersfield Town)

 

Madagascar vs Nicaragua - at Stade Municipal de Mahamasina, Antananarivo

Madagascar were defending a three-goal lead, but when midfielder Anicet took leave of his senses in the second minute, a dramatic turnaround was on the cards. Anicet's two-footed lunge on Eulises Pavón, and his subsequent red card, gave fresh hope to the Nicaraguan visitors. Pavón had the audacity to try and beat Pascal Honoré from long range in the 22nd minute, but the Madagascar goalkeeper was having none of it. Honoré would also save an effort from midfielder Miguel Masis in the first half before Nicaragua's other middleman - Axel Villanueva - went close to beating him on 60 minutes. La Azul y Blanco would finally make the breakthrough after 74 minutes. Captain Juan Barrera's cross to the far post was finished by right-winger Marlon Medina - a half-time replacement for the injured Marco Mendez. Berrera then struck the post five minutes later, and Nicaragua would soon run out of time. Despite Anicet's early moment of madness, Madagascar had survived and were into the next round.

Madagascar - 0

Nicaragua - 1 (Marlon Medina 74)

[Madagascar win 3-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Axel Villanueva (Nicaragua, M/AM C - Walter Ferreti)

 

Palestine vs Tajikistan - at Faisal Al-Husseini International Stadium, Al-Ramm

Davronjon Tuhtasunov thought he'd given Tajikistan the lead in the second minute... but he was clearly offside when Farhod Vasiev found him on the edge of the six-yard box. Ten minutes later, it was Palestine who went in front. Imad Zatara got his head to Imad Khalili's corner, and the ball deflected in off Persian Lions wing-back Jahongir Jalilov's thigh. Palestine's confidence rose from there, and when Hilal Musa found the net from 30 yards out after 30 minutes, the home fans had every reason to get excited. Tuhtasunov and co were losing their way, and a Qomil Saidov shot that rattled the bar on 52 minutes proved to be Tajikistan's last chance to get back into the tie. When Brazilian-born striker Eder scored Palestine's third goal from Jonathan Cantillana's free-kick in the 55th minute, the Fedayeen effectively booked their spot in Round 3.

Palestine - 3 (Jahongir Jalilov og12, Hilal Musa 30, Eder 55)

Tajikistan - 0

[Palestine win 4-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Jonathan Cantillana (Palestine, M C - Al-Ahli Al-Khalil)

 

Azerbaijan vs Turkmenistan - at Olympic Stadium, Baku

After scoring two goals as a substitute in Turkmenistan, Cavid Imamverdiyev started up front for Azerbaijan back on home soil. The Neftçi Baku striker couldn't replicate his impact, as he mustered four shots at goal but only got one on target. Right-winger Tugrul Erat also had a number of shots for Azerbaijan before a foot injury led to his substitution at half-time. The Milli would constantly pressure their visitors' defence in this match, although they couldn't add to their 3-1 aggregate lead. They didn't really need to, as Turkmenistan's attackers saw very little action. Apart from a couple of Wladimir Bayramow shots that were saved by Azerbaijan captain Kamran Ağayev, Turkmenistan never looked like they could launch a fightback.

Azerbaijan - 0

Turkmenistan - 0

[Azerbaijan win 3-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Dimitrij Nazarov (Azerbaijan, AM/ST C - Karlsruhe)

 

Philippines vs Guinea-Bissau - at Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila

Philippines goalkeeper Roland Müller parried a hopeful strike from Guinea-Bissau midfielder Edelino Ié in the 16th minute. Müller wouldn't need to do much more in this second leg, as the Guinea-Bissau's other 13 shots at goal were all fired off target or blocked by Filipino defenders. The Djurtus took a more defensive approach in the second half, but with only a two-goal cushion, one goal for the Philippines would have raised serious questions. Sure enough, when Phil Younghusband drove in Iain Ramsay's cross on 66 minutes, the Azkals began to believe that they could bite Guinea-Bissau where it really hurt. Despite losing half their lead, the visitors remained happy to defend deep for the closing stages. The Philippines could not score again, so pragmatism paid off for Guinea-Bissau, who would play Sudan in Round 3.

Philippines - 1 (Phil Younghusband 66)

Guinea-Bissau - 0

[Guinea-Bissau win 2-1 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Stephan Schröck (Philippines, M/AM L - Ceres FC)

 

Canada vs Tahiti - at BMO Field, Toronto

Canada took a very large step towards Round 3 by scoring after three minutes. Although Tahiti goalkeeper Jimmy Tahutini managed to push Lucas Cavallini's shot against his post, the ball bounced back to Oliver Occéan, whose follow-up left Tahutini helpless. Steevy Chong responded with a Tahitian equaliser in the 7th minute, and a minute after that, Toa Aito had another reason to be optimistic. Centre-back Doneil Henry's professional foul on Lorenzo Tehau saw Canada go a man down... but then, in the 17th minute, they proved the old adage that it is generally harder to play against 10 men. Occéan provided a fine assist for Scott Arfield, who drove the ball home from an acute angle. Although Tze Yu Rainui scored a second leveller for Tahiti in a rainy Toronto just before half-time, time was running out for the Oceanian side. When Arfield set up Occéan's second goal on 53 minutes, Canada could relax somewhat. Despite a brave challenge from Tahiti, it was the Canucks who came out on top in this tie.

Canada - 3 (Oliver Occéan 3,53, Scott Arfield 17)

Tahiti - 2 (Steevy Chong 7, Tze Yu Rainui 45)

[Canada win 7-3 on aggregate]

MAN OF THE MATCH: Oliver Occéan (Canada, ST/AM C - Odds BK)

Edited by CFuller

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