World Cup Sides Tumble in Day of Upsets


On a packed day of international friendlies, more than half of the nations preparing to do battle in this summer’s World Cup continued their preparation wit friendly games. And some of them got right good clubbings, astonishingly – several to countries that failed to make South Africa.

For your convenience, we have decided to divide today’s results up into three categories, those where a World Cup side faced a non-qualifier, those between two qualifiers and those with none involved.

Starting with the surprises, Greece’s preparations for the finals took a knock with a home defeat by Senegal at the Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki in Piraeus. This may be particularly troubling for Otto Rehhagel’s men as they have another African side, Nigeria in their group. There was not such good news for Africa in Sarajevo, where strongly fancied Ghana went down 2-1 to Bosnia-Herzegovina after Inter’s Sully Muntari had put them ahead.

Slovakia became the third World Cup side to lose to non-qualifying opposition with a dire 0-1 home defeat to an average Norwegian side. Rosenborg’s Morten
Moldskred, a recent scorer against Sounders FC, netted the winner.

On a dismal night for qualifiers, Honduras lost 2-0 in Turkey, and Denmark 2-1 in Austria. Arsenal’s Nicklas Bendtner scored for the Danes in the first half. Six additional qualifiers lost to other nations who will be there in the summer to complete quite an extraordinary night of failure for this summer’s attractions.

In the big games, Spain showed off their realistic World Cup credentials with a 0-2 win in Paris over France. David Villa and Sergio Ramos scored first half goals in a result that will attract the attention of the entire football world. Argentina also secured a success, with a 0-1 win in Germany, the best result for a side playing outside their own continent. 65,152 watched in horror in Munich as Gonzalo Higuaín stroked the ball into an empty net past Leverkusen’s René Adler, who had foolishly come haring out of his penalty box.

Qualifiers who fared better were England who came from behind to beat African champions Egypt 3-1, on a night where the home crowd booed John Terry and South Korea who beat Ivory Coast 0-2 in London on a very poor night for African sides. Other than Senegal, four of them lost and no other side won. Portugal beat China 2-0 in Coimbra and Slovenia overcame Qatar comfortably 4-1.

In the matches between two qualifiers, the Netherlands beat USA 2-1 on a memorable night for Jonathan Bornstein, who gave away a needless penalty and deflected Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s shot past Tim Howard for Holland’s second goal. Carlos Bocanegra scored a late consolation to put a rosier complexion on a valuable learning outing for Sam’s Army.

Perhaps the second best result for a side playing off their own continent came in St Gallen where Uruguay trailed to a Gökhan Inler penalty, but came back to beat Switzerland 1-3. France and Mexico should take note. Uruguay may be the strongest side in that Group A.

USA’s Group C opponents Algeria lost 0-3 at home to Serbia in Algiers, perhaps the third most impressive result for a side on another continent. Serbia beat France in their qualifying group, but have been drawn in a very tough group with Ghana, Australia and Germany. At this point though, it would be hard to discount the Serbs. Germany has never failed to pass through the opening stages. Could this be the first?

Italy and Cameroon failed to produce a goal in Monaco. Hosts South Africa could only draw 1-1 with Namibia in Johannesburg.

In the games not involving any qualifiers, by far the most important result was Scotland’s 1-0 win over the Czech Republic in Craig Levein’s first match in charge. How relieved the world must be that the Scottish resurgence came too late to qualify!

Matches Between a Qualifying Country and Non-qualifier

Greece 0 : 2 Senegal
Bosnia Herzegovina 2 : 1 Ghana
Slovakia 0 : 1 Norway
Turkey 2 : 0 Honduras
South Africa 1 : 1 Namibia
Austria 2 : 1 Denmark
Slovenia 4 : 1 Qatar
England 3 : 1 Egypt
Portugal 2 : 0 China PR

Matches Between Two Qualifying Countries

Côte d’Ivoire 0 : 2 Korea Republic
Algeria 0 : 3 Serbia
Switzerland 1 : 3 Uruguay
Netherlands 2 : 1 United States
Germany 0 : 1 Argentina
Italy 0 : 0 Cameroon
France 0 : 2 Spain

Other International Friendlies

Macedonia FYR 2 : 1 Montenegro
Georgia 2 : 1 Estonia
Cyprus 0 : 0 Iceland
Angola 1 : 1 Latvia
Moldova 1 : 0 Kazakhstan
Malta 1 : 2 Finland
Hungary 1 : 1 Russia
Romania 0 : 2 Israel
Luxembourg 1 : 2 Azerbaijan
Poland 2 : 0 Bulgaria
Albania 1 : 0 Northern Ireland
Wales 0 : 1 Sweden
Belgium 0 : 1 Croatia
Scotland 1 : 0 Czech Republic

Full World Cup Draw


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1 Comment

  1. malcontentjake on

    its tempting to look for meaning in these results but we have seen many times in the past where what happens in the run-up to the World Cup seems completely irrelevant to what happens in the tournament itself