Japan had the chance to be the first team to qualify for the World Cup on Tuesday night. On paper it looked straight forward but it seems they underestimated a rejuvenated Jordan side and went down to a surprise defeat.
In all likelihood Japan will still become the first team to qualify but the result in Amman mixes up Group B and heaps extra pressure on 3rd place Australia.
The 2-1 win for Jordan was all the more remarkable considering the respective tie in Japan ended with a 6-0 hammering.
Japan had been in control of the match during the first half with only the crossbar denying them a lead. However in injury time Khalil Bani Attiah leaped above the defence to direct a header past the Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.
The “Blue Samurai” continued to dominate play in the 2nd half but were again caught on the counter with 60 minutes gone. Ahmed Hayel collected a loose ball and set off like Usain Bolt down the right hand side before cutting into the Japan box then passing the ball under Kawashima into the net. The crowd went wild while the Jordanian bench looked shocked.
The Japanese stepped up the pace in pursuit of a draw and managed to grab one back in the 69th minute through Manchester United’s, Shinji Kagawa. Then went on to concede a penalty 90 seconds later. Disaster looked imminent.
Japanese veteran, Yasuhito Endo took the spot kick but was denied by Amer Sabbah, sealing a vital 3 points.
In group B’s other match Australia narrowly avoided a shocking upset against Oman.Tim Cahill and a 25-yard strike by Brett Holman in the 85th minute salvages a poor home draw.
In Group A, Uzbekistan beat Lebanon 1 -0 at home to consolidate their position at the top while South Korea struggled to a 2-1 win over Oman in Seoul.
Competition should be fierce in the last matches of Asian qualification. With only the top two teams from each group guaranteeing qualification. The two 3rd place teams will then play-off, with the winner then playing-off against the 5th place team in the CONMEBOL table (currently a fight between Venezuela, Uruguay and Chile).
For those who missed it :
“Build a bonfire, build a bonfire
Put Rio on the top
Put Anton in the middle
Then burn the f****** lot”
Was the supposed chant by the England fans at the Montenegro match on Tuesday night.
It did not escape the attentions of Football anti-racism network Fare who duly reported the singing as having racial overtones.
Coupled with the sickening chants at the San Marino game it seems that English will have to accept that they, too, have a racist element in the hordes. It will be a bitter pill to swallow given that the FA and supporters have been tirelessly clapping themselves on the back and quickly pointing the finger at everyone from Spain to the Ukraine, of late.
This comes after a suspension for their former captain, John Terry and the “Kick it Out” campaign in ruin.
Oliver Holt in today’s Mirror hits the nail on the head:
There have been attempts to reproduce the beautiful game on the silver screen but none have come near to this scene (for British footballers of a certain age at least).
Taken from Ken Loach’s “Kes”, a film about a young boy and his pet Kestrel. The overbearing teacher is Brian Glover (Alien 3, American Werewolf in London).
If You have only one passion in life – football – and you Pursue it to the exclusion of everything else, it Becomes very dangerous. When you stop Doing This activity it is as though you are dying. The death of That activity is a death in itself.
“3 Millones” (3 million) is a documentary about a father and son that follow the Uruguayan national football team during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
It’s a refreshing look at the football matches, supporters and African hosts. The father is a famous singer and musician, Jaime Ross and his son, Yamandu is a photographer.
Both are passionate fans and this comes across brilliantly (although the match reports are very, very biased).
Comes with English subtitles on itunes.
ps.The population of Uruguay is 3 million
Holger Matamoros lashes home a 40 yard screamer against Universidad Catolica.
The current champs from Guayaquil have made am erratic start to this year’s campaign but kept up their winning streak against newly promoted Catotlica
It’s impossible for Scotland to make Brazil. In truth we have known for a long time, maybe as soon as the draw was made, but we didn’t think it would end so poorly.
Winless and gutless the Scottish national team lie rooted to the bottom of Group A. A tally of 2 points from 6 games is pitiful in the extreme. We now lie alongside San Marino, Liechtenstein and Malta as International minnows.
This is as rotten as it comes for a supporter: out of the reckoning before things have even started. The remaining ties are meaningless and we are now playing for pride.
Many supporters will feel helpless and unsure of where we are going to end up. International wilderness is a real possibility. In fact a probability if not an actual current reality.
It’s all got too much to bare.
In truth it has been a long descent. Alike a horse stuck in quicksand, slowly sinking to the bottom. There have been small moments of resistance and defiance along the way but these have only delayed the inevitable and no one is going haul us out.
Against Serbia tonight, the farmer finally came along and unloaded two shells into our skull. A mercy killing.
Gordon Strachan has inherited a nightmare: a squad devoid of any real class and lacking any semblance of confidence. His is a long term project. But I do feel he is the right man to take us forward. At least he has enthusiasm and ideas.
Strachan blooded Liam Bridcutt and George Boyd against Serbia and this is where any hope of revival exists. Fresh and young talent. But it will be a long road to recovery. I doubt on the strength of the last few matches that France 2016 is even realisable.
That’s enough. This is too depressing.
MEXICO 0 USA 0
Undefeated but without a win, Mexico lie 5th in the CONCACAF qualification table after three games and three draws. Although they are only 2 points from surprise leaders, Panama, two of their draws have come at the Azteca where victories are usually a certainty.
Last night saw the big grudge match against the USA. The regions “Big Two” regularly battle out Gold Cup finals and usually vie for top spot in qualification campaigns. For Mexicans, the sweetest of victories come against the “Gringos” so last night’s stalemate would have been particularly difficult to swallow.
In what was to become the USA’s first point since 1997 and 2nd point ever in Mexico, the Americans held out to record a significant draw. The result is even more impressive given Mexico’s record in home World Cup qualifiers as Won 68 Lost 1 and Drawn 6.
Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan was the USA’S best player and the main difference between the teams. It was a cagey affair with “El Tri” dominating possession without crating many clear cut chances.
The visitors rode their luck in 75 minutes when Maurice Edu crudely challenged Javier Aquino in the box, the referee waved play on seemingly unimpressed nor unaffected by the masses protesting.
Mexico have the players to qualify but must be wary of the resurgent Panamanians and Costa Ricans.
Elsewhere in the region Costa Rica beat Jamaica 2-0 courtesy of Michael Umana and Diego Calvo goals, to go 2nd in the table behind Panama. The Central American minnows are not renowned for their football but are impressing all with their fast and athletic performances.
Luis Tejada got Panama off to a perfect start in 2 minutes but it took a Blas Perez in 75 minutes to cement the victory.
Team GP W D L PTs
Panama 3 1 2 0 5
Costa Rica 3 1 1 1 4
United States 3 1 1 1 4
Honduras 3 1 1 1 4
Mexico 3 0 3 0 3
Jamaica 3 0 2 1 2
Only 3 teams directly qualify while 4th place moves into an inter-continental play-off. In reality the group is still very open but the emergence of Panama has raised some eyebrows.
As a Liverpool fan I tend to see the best in Luis Suarez and forgive him for his indiscretions. There is no doubt he has been vilified by a calumniatory, English press but he doesn’t do himself any favours.
Last night, again, he was attracting headlines for the wrong reasons. Playing for Uruguay against Chile in a World Cup qualifier, Suarez responded to defender Gonzalo Jara’s attentions by jabbing him on the chin. Granted, it wasn’t a punch worthy of the ring but it should have deserved a red card.
The decision did not change the match as Chile battled to a deserved 2 – 0 victory over an unsteady Uruguay. Esteban Paredes opened the scoring in the 11th minute after some awful Uruguayan defending. Both Matias Aguirregaray and Alvaro Pereiraha had chances to clear the danger but only proceeded to gift Paredes his chance 5 yards out.
Eduardo Vargas sealed the win with 12 minutes remaining after some more shambolic play at the back by Uruguay. Matias Fernandez found Mauricio Isla with a defence splitting ball, Isla’s shot was then saved by Fernando Muslera but Vargas snatched to score while the defenders floundered.
After last week’s home draw against Paraguay, “La Celeste” are fumbling at a vital point in qualification. The Copa America holders will have to reverse their slide down the table if they want to repeat their impressive display in South Africa. Similarly, Chile have been erratic and find themselves in a 4/5th place battle after a strong start to their qualification campaign.
In Puerto Ordaz. The in-form Colombians tumbled to a surprise defeat against Venezuela. Salomon Rondon grabbed an early lead in the 13th minute and that was enough to win the match. Falcoa had some late chances and was denied an equaliser by the woodwork.
Despite the hiccup, Colombia are still in a good position for qualification while Venezuela need to secure a few more wins to ensure attendance at their first ever World Cup.
P W D L Pts
Argentina 11 7 3 1 24
Ecuador 10 6 2 2 20
Colombia 10 6 1 3 19
Chile 11 5 0 6 15
Venezuela 11 4 3 4 15
Uruguay 11 3 4 4 13
Peru 10 3 2 5 11
Bolivia 11 2 3 6 9
Paraguay 11 2 2 7 8
Ecuador 4 Paraguay 1
Ecuador took a huge step towards qualification with a comfortable win over Paraguay. The win puts “La Tri” on 20 points thanks mainly to their home form in the Atahaulpa stadium.
Ecuador started with a full strength team that included Antonio Valencia, Cristain Benitez, Jefferson Montero and Filipe Caicedo. The only change from the usual 11 was the dropping of Luis Saritama for Pedro Quinonez. With a crammed home crowd behind them, Ecuador must have felt full of confidence but they didn’t reflect this on the pitch, early on.
Paraguay took the lead in the 15th minute through Luis Cabellero who shot low past Dominguez to silence the partisan hoards. It was a well taken goal but the defenders should have cleared the ball instead of dallying in the box.
The goal stung the Ecuadorians into action and they attacked Bolivia mercilessly, mainly down the flanks through the tricky Montero and Quinonez. Achilier saw his header hit the crossbar in the 24th minute then Valencia volleyed home 5 minutes later, only for it to be chalked off by the linesman. It was clear Paraguay were not going to hold out.
The equaliser was as inevitable as the scorer. Felipe Caicedo was brought back into the fold by Reinaldo Rueda for this campaign and he has repaid his coach with 5 goals at vital moments during these qualifiers. Just before half time he bustled his way past the Paraguayan defence to head in an Ayovi close from close range.
Ecuador started the 2nd half in similar fashion destroying the Paraguayans with their pace and long, deep cross field balls. In the 50th minute Quinonez dropped a splendid pass onto the feet of the onrushing Montero. The Morelia midfielder slipped past the left back then drove the ball into the net to take the lead.
Four minutes later Montero again was tormentor in chief dribbling past two defenders, cutting back then crossing for “Chucho” Benitez to head home for the third. Paraguay were being over-run by wave after wave of yellow shirts with only the woodwork saving them.
With 15 minutes Montero exchanged a one-two with Saritama and set-off on another mazy like run, snaking through the red and white jerseys with ease. Upon reaching the goal area is shot wrong footed the helpless Baretto and the ball trickled into the goal. It was fortunate but he had made his own luck.
Another home win sets Ecuador in an excellent 2nd position behind Argentina. Their next games are against Peru, away then Messi & Co in Quito. The Argentinians are notoriously weak at altitude so two draws are not overly optimistic. With Montero is this type of form another home win could seal a summer in Brazil.