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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Open Thread – World Cup and Euro ’12 Qualifying, MLS and Friendlies, But Weekend’s Best Could Be Out Of Africa

Written by on October 7, 2011 | 22 Comments »
Posted in General

It has the makings of a strange weekend. It is as if the party really got going and suddenly the power got cut.

The domestic European leagues are in full swing, the battle for places in MLS play-offs is down to the last few games, CONCACAF Champions League group play has only one round left and the UEFA Champions League has already completed match-day 1 and 2.

Now we have the vast majority of games being played today with the traditional Saturday schedule being limited to one Euro ’12 qualifier (Liechtenstein v Scotland), a USA v Honduras friendly and a couple of MLS games (New England Revolution vs San Jose Earthquakes and Seattle Sounders v Philadelphia Union).

What’s more of the four MLS teams in action only one – the Philadelphia Union – is still fighting to decide its play off fate. New England and San Jose are out and Seattle is definitely through.

The most interesting action is likely to be around the final round of qualifying for the African Cup of Nations. There are a number of countries with “reputations” who are on the verge of being knocked out while a host of smaller countries are poised to qualify. The BBC had a good article yesterday on the last weekend of qualifying.

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22 responses to “Open Thread – World Cup and Euro ’12 Qualifying, MLS and Friendlies, But Weekend’s Best Could Be Out Of Africa”

  1. CACuzcatlan says:

    With RSL slumping, is the title down to LA and Seattle? Can you see anyone stopping them from winning the Western Conference and taking the MLS Cup?

  2. Gus Keri says:

    In Europe today:

    4 teams can clinch their places in next year finals.

    – England needs a point away to Montenegro. England can’t afford to lose. if they lose and Montenegro beat Switzerland away on Tuesday, they will find themsleves in second palce.

    – Croatia needs to beat Greece away to qualify. Very tough.

    – France needs to beat Albania at home and hope that Bosnia loses to Luxembourg at home. Dream on!

    – Russia needs a win away to Slovakia and Irelnad not beating Andora away to qualify today. Not a chance!

    In brief, only England has real chance of qualifying today and even this is going to be really tough for the Capello’s men. Game at 3:00 pm ET

  3. Gus Keri says:

    Euro 2012:

    Montenegro – England: 2-2

    England bacame the 5th team to qualify to the finals.

    They joined Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Italy and the two hosts: Ukraine and Poland.

    Something strange happened at the end of the game.
    After England scored two goals, Montenegro fought hard to get back and scored their tying goal at the 91st minute.

    Instead of riding the momentum that was switching toward them and try to get the winner which will put them in good position to win the group, they looked more than satisfied with the draw that gauranteed them the runner up position at the expense of Switzerland.

    England should send a “thank you” card to their brothers from Wales. Wales who looked very bad early in the campainge losing their first 5 games, came back strong to beat the two England challengers, Montenegro and Switzerland.

    These last results made the decision of UEFA to rank Wales in the 6th pot for the world cup draw even more strange. I can feel Bobby’s pain.

    Germany, Spain and Netherlands continued their perfect records combining for 25 wins with no draws or losses.

    The other qualifers, England and Italy are undefeated. Good omen for Greece which is undefeated too. They will need only a draw away to Georgia to win the group.

  4. Gus Keri says:

    Euro 2012:

    Other notes:

    Slovakia, the world cup finalist, which started the campaign strongly by beating Russia and Macedonia, was eliminated today after they lost at home to Russia.
    Russia is in the driver seat. They have the better head to head results against both Ireland and Armenia. One point at home to Andora is all they need. What is the odd?
    Ireland is hosting Armenia with one point lead.

    —-

    Turkey also succumbed at home to Germany to concede the second spot to Belgium. But the cause has not been lost yet.
    One point difference with one game left. Head to head result is in favor of Turkey. Belgium to visit Germany and Turkey to host Azerbaijan.

    —-

    France and Bosnia meet in a decider, in Paris, after both won today. France lead with 1 point. Both are guaranteed at least a play off round appearance.

    —-

    Porugal and Denamrk meet in Denmark in the final game with both on 16 points. A draw means Portugal qulaify on head to head. Denamrk needs a win.
    It is almost impossible for Norway to move on. They need to beat Syprus and hope for Denamark win with a huge goal diff to reach the second spot. they can’t win the group.

    —-

    Sweden and Montenegro are guaranteed a runner up positions.

    Other teams that are fighting for a runner up spot are:
    (Scotland or Czech Rep)
    (Serbia or Estonia)

  5. Gus Keri says:

    Euro 2012:

    One more point:

    The automatic runner-up ticket will go to Sweden if they beat Netherlands in the final game of the group.
    If they don’t, it will by between them and the runner up of group H (Portugal or Denamrk). It might be decided on goal diff.

  6. Boris says:

    Not sure what to say about Croatia except that Bilic needs to go as I have been saying for years now. With all the talent they have, they should not be losing to a side like Greece. They should still make it via playoffs but with the way Bilic is putting the squad together (why is Pletikosa the starting keeper?) nothing will surprise me.

  7. Gus Keri says:

    ACN 2012 updates:

    Nigeria – Guinea: 2-2

    Guinea qualified as a group winner
    Nigeria was eliminated and joined Egypt and Cameroon as surprise teams not to make it to the fianls

    Nigeria was in a very peculiar situation. They were leading the game with 2-1, needing one goal to win the group but also a 2-1 win will put them in a strong position, ahead of Sudan, on the runner up table.
    In other words, they could have qualified if result ended 2-1. But all were lost when they conceded a goal in extra time and exited the competition.

    Zambia – Libya: 0-0

    Both teams qualified to the finals.
    Zambia as the group winner and Libya as one of the two best runner ups.

    Sudan – Ghana: 0-2

    Ghana qualifed as a group winner
    Sudan is in a strong position to qualify as the other best runner up.

    Still to come:
    the fate of Tunisia, South Africa and Angola will be decided in the next two hours. They are facing elimination.
    Will they join the big guns of Africa on the ouside looking in?

  8. Ed Gomes says:

    England’s #1, Hart, says; “I saw it all. It was pretty pathetic. It was supposedly a kick but it was pathetic. It was the most pathetic sending-off I’ve seen in my life.”
    Really?
    Let’s see, Rooney cleary kicked the player. He was nowhere near the ball, and intent was there. Please keep in mind that I’m a Man United fan. Rooney has kept his cool in check this season, and hasn’t commited that stupid foul. Well, he did here, and frankly I’m happy it’s come while wearing an England kit instead of Man United’s.
    As for Hart, he should be more concerned about a defense that let “powerhouse” Montenegro score 2 goals. They’ve score a total of 7 goals, with two of them coming against the Brits. Amazingly they drew 0-0 at Wembley.
    Gary Cahill is a wanted player? Maybe he and underwhelming Terry need to become more familiar with each other.
    Hart had one more comment that was precious;
    He said: “We are over the moon. It was a case of ‘job done.’ We have got England as a nation to a major tournament next summer.”
    This whole squad has been underwhelming. The 17 goals are deceiving since 7 of them came against pitiful Bulgaria. I get the “Job Done” comment, but “over the moon” is a bit much.

    Call me crazy, but Portugal’s 5-3 win verse Iceland left a lot to be desired. And this was when Inceland’s third came at the very end of the match. Portugal has a lot of work left to do, and the defense is in complete disaray. Carvalho walked out on the squad, after Bento threw around his ego. A lot arguing over who ultimately was wrong. It’s come back to bite Bento due to all the injuries to the backline.
    His squad selection also left a lot to be desired due to the amount of players chosen that haven’t had regular playing time with their club teams. Players that not only saw the field, but started as well. A lot of head shaking coming out of Portugal. I’ve never liked Bento, and ultimately he will prove to be the wrong choice (the FPF, Portuguese FA, is even more pathetic) But as long as he wins, all is forgotten.

    For me the most surprising thing about the Euro Qualifiers is how close the races are for 2nd place in the groups. All the usual suspects might still qualify, but there are plenty of surprise teams that are in the drivers seat in qualifying.

  9. Gus Keri says:

    I am impressed with the fact that Capello kept Lampard out of the starting line up ispite of his hattrick in the weekend.

    It’s time that Capello free himself from the pressure to use certain players based on reputation or the FA’s opinion.

    Also, does any one know if Rooney’s father made any money betting on his son being sent off in the game?

  10. Gus Keri says:

    ACN 2012:

    Guinea Bissau – Angola: 0-2
    Uganda – Kenya: 0-0

    Angola qualified as a group winner
    Uganda was eliminated.
    Sudan still leads in the runner up race

  11. Gus Keri says:

    ACN 2012:

    Tunisia – Togo: 2-0
    Chad – Malawi: 2-2

    Another dramatic ending.
    Tunisia qualified. Malawi eliminated.

    Malawi was leading 2-1 and in good position to qualify on better head to head result with Tunisia, but the minnow Chad scored in the dying seconds to tie the score and give Tunisia the ticket to the finals.

  12. Gus Keri says:

    Today is a perfect day to tell some people to “swallow their words” and focus on the job at hand instead of blabbering.

    Here is what happened:

    Group A:

    Liberia – Mali: 1-2
    Cape Verde – Zimbabwe: 2-1

    Mali qualifed.

    Zimbabwe’s coach claimed that the Mali’s game will be fixed to make sure Mali qualify and his team eliminated.
    He forgot that, first, he needs to beat Cape Verde to have any chance at qualifying.
    At the end, Zimbabwe ended up in third and out. Also Cape Verde was eliminated.

    Group G:

    South Africa – Sierra Leone: 0-0
    Egypt – Niger: 3-0

    Niger qualified. South Africa joined Egypt on the out.

    South Africa’s coach also criticized Egypt becuase they used the U-23 team to finish the qualification after they were eliminated. He claimed it was not fair to his team and might favor his opponents.

    He, abviously, forgot that he needed to focus on beating Sierra Leone at home first, before criticizing Egypt, who did their job by beating the group leaders. At the end, they exited on head to head results.

  13. Gus Keri says:

    ACN 2012:

    List of qualifers so far:

    Gabon (co-host)
    Equatorial Guinea (co-host)
    Ivory Coast
    Ghana
    Tunisia
    Angola
    Senegal
    Botswana
    Mali
    Guinea
    Zambia
    Burkina Faso
    Niger
    Libya (one of the two runner up tickets)

    Two more spot still avialable

    1- The group D winner (Morocco, Central African Republic, Algeria and Tanzania) to be decided tomorrow.
    2- Either Sudan or the runner up of group D (as the other runner up ticket)

  14. Gus Keri says:

    ACN 2012:

    Few websites claimed that Sudan has already qualified as the second runner up.

    This is totally wrong.

    There are few possibilities where we can see the top two teams from group D qualified and Sudan eliminated.
    It has to be based on both Morocco and Central Africa winning by various combinations of goal diff. First place and last place teams might change drastically.

    For example: if Morocco beat Tanzania 1-0 and Central Africa beat Algeria 3-0, both of Morocco and Central africa will qualify.
    (1- Central Africa 2- Morocco 3- Tanzania 4- Algeria)

    Another example: If Central Africa wins 1-0 and Morocco wins 6-0. Both will qualify.
    (1- Morocco 2- Central Africa 3- Algeria 4- Tanzania)

  15. Gus – thanks for the ACN updates and insight. Much appreciated.

    Libya the current version of Iraq from 2004 Olympics? Perhaps an even greater achievement given that Iraq had some football pedigree.

  16. Soccerlogical says:

    Would love to see Montenegro qualify and surprise a few sides in 2012! Jovetic and Vucinic are as good a strike partnership as any.

    FRA vs B&H should be a cracker as the likes of Pjanic, Dzeko, Misimovic and Ibisevic will go balls to wall…pardon my French (OMEN?).

    PS Should Scotland face Ireland in a playoff match… will SRE podcast disband?
    I blame Sepp and Yoko!!!!

  17. Gus Keri says:

    Bobby:

    You’re welcome

    Don’t forget that Iraq defied all odd by winning the Asian cup 2007.

    Libya went unbeaten in the qualification, 3 wins and 3 draws, although they played 5 of their matches outside Libya.

    But I think this is the year that the Ivory Coast will get their act together and win it. they have a perfect record so far with 5 wins.
    They are the only convincing side of the top African guns.

  18. Gus Keri says:

    Eoin:

    Mathematically, Portugal can be caught by Norway if they lose to Denmark and Norway win and both with huge margin.

    The first tie-breaker is head to head (they both won 1-0 at home), then overall goal diff, then overall goal scored.

    It’s almost impossible, though.

  19. Gus Keri says:

    After the farce of celebrating “non-qualification”, South Africa’s coach Pitso Mosimane said:

    “Africa is a jungle, my friend. The European and South American formats are so much better because everything is running smoothly, but it’s very difficult to play in Africa.”

    He again “eats his words”.

    It’s exactly the same system used by the Euro 2012 qualification.

    Do your homework, Mr Mosimane.

  20. J Rob says:

    Love this stat from Opta Stats twitter-feed:

    “Igor Shitov of Belarus has made more tackles than any other player in Euro 2012 Qualifying. Steaming”

  21. Gus Keri says:

    ACN 2012:

    Today, the last two spots were decided. Morocco and Sudan completed the list, and another big team, Algeria, failed to qualify.

    Here are the qualifiers according to their locations:

    North Africa (4): Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Sudan
    West Africa (7): Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, Niger
    Central Africa (2): Gabon (co-host), Equatorial Guinea (co-host)
    Southern Africa (3): Angola, Zambia, Botswana
    East Africa (0)

    The best results were achieved by the Western African countries. Not only there are 7 teams among the 16 finalists, but 5 of them had the best qualifying records:
    Ivory coast is the only team with a perfect record (6 wins), followed by Ghana and Senegal (5 wins and 1 draws) then Guinea (4 wins and 2 draws) and Burkina Faso (3 wins and 1 draw)

    The other undefeated teams are Libya and Malawi.
    Libya is the only undefeated North African team (3 wins and 3 draws)
    Malawi is the only undefeated team not to qulaify. (2 wins and 6 draws)

    5 of the top 10 African teams according to last FIFA ranking were eliminated: Egypt (2), Nigeria (6), Algeria (7), Cameroon (8), South Africa (9).

  22. Gbenga says:

    Excellent analysis and break down Gus… There was confusion on the Nigerian bench when it was leading 2-1. Some official on the bench said Nigeria needed a third goal which prompted head coach, Samson Siasia to take out Joel Obi of Inter Milan and put another striker in and went for an all out attack. It turned out to be false in the end because Ghana was already leading Sudan 2-0 which meant all Nigeria needed was a win… Very sad how things turned out in the end… Total breakdown of communications across the board. Nobody bothered to break down the CAF rules… Utter disgrace…

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