Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 7th 2015 Contents A46
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, September 7, 2015
CAPE TOWN---Ivory Coast
felt Yaya Toure s absence as it
began its African title defense
with a 0-0 draw against Sierra
Leone in neutral Nigeria yes-
Without captain Toure and
other star players, the Ivorians
were uninspiring in their first
qualifier for the 2017 African
Cup of Nations, and their first
game under new coach Michel
Toure was missing after ask-
ing for time off from the
national team while he con-
siders his international future.
Striker Wilfried Bony and mid-
fielders Cheick Tiote and Max
Gradel also didn t play in the
Group I game.
Also, top-ranked African
team Algeria won 3-1 in
Lesotho to lead Group J with
two wins from two.
Bassem Morsi scored a hat
trick for Egypt in a 5-1 ham-
mering of Chad. That put
Egypt ahead of Nigeria in
Group G and kept the record
seven-time African champion
on course to qualify for the
Cup of Nations for the first
time since its last title in 2010.
Ivory Coast was starting its
qualifying campaign later than
other teams after being drawn
in the same group as 2017
tournament host Gabon, and
playing the Gabonese in a non-
competitive match in the first
round in June.
Gervinho lined up against
Sierra Leone in Port Harcourt
in southern Nigeria, with the
Sierra Leoneans still not able
to play at home because of
Ebola. The forward couldn t
help produce a victory for the
Ivorians, though, and the
defending African champion
trails group leader Sudan.
The 13 group winners and
the two best second-placed
teams will qualify for the tour-
There could be a long-await-
ed return for Africa s most
decorated team. Morsi scored
the first two goals and the last
for Egypt in N Djamena, and
Mohamed Salah and Mahmoud
Kahraba also netted as the
Egyptians followed up a 3-0
win over Tanzania with anoth-
er impressive showing.
Cameroon also has two wins
from two in Group M but nei-
ther of them were convincing.
The Cameroonians edged
Gambia 1-0 on Sunday through
Vincent Aboubakar s 65th-
minute strike. Aboubakar was
also the savior in a last-minute
1-0 win over Mauritania in the
Angola and Mali top groups
B and C respectively after Sun-
day s qualifiers, while Swazi-
land drew 2-2 at home with
Malawi to follow up its stun-
ning away win in Guinea in the
The Swazis lead Group L
ahead of Zimbabwe on goals
scored and now have maybe
their best chance ever of qual-
ifying for a major tournament
for the first time.
chances of qualifying for the
2016 European Championship
slipped further away yesterday
as the team that finished third
at last year s World Cup
crashed to a 3-0 defeat in
The resounding victory
meant that Turkey overtook the
Dutch in the race for third place
in qualifying Group A. The
Netherlands trails Turkey by
two points, with two games left
"We no longer have our fate
in our own hands," coach
Danny Blind told Dutch broad-
The Czech Republic beat
Latvia 2-1 to go top of the
group and guarantee qualifica-
tion, though Iceland could
regain top spot and win its first
ever European Championship
qualification when it played
last-placed Kazakhstan later
"We advanced because we
collected points on a regular
basis," Czech goalkeeper Petr
Cech said. "The team proved
it is hungry for success."
The two teams in each group
qualify automatically, along
with the best third-place team.
The eight other sides to finish
third then go to a playoff round.
The tournament in France
looks a long way off for the
Netherlands, European cham-
pion in 1988.
Oguzhan Ozyakup put Turkey
1-0 up in the eighth minute,
running onto a defense-split-
ting pass from Arda Turan and
deftly chipping the ball over
The Netherlands almost
handed Turkey its second.
Daley Blind failed to control a
26th-minute throw in, and was
then muscled off the ball by
Turan, whose shot Cillessen
should have saved.
"If you give away goals so
easily, you sell yourself short,"
Blind s father and coach said.
Burak Yilmaz completed the
Dutch humiliation by scoring
a late third for the hosts, firing
through the legs of defender
The Netherlands was without
injured captain Arjen Robben
and Blind gave Ajax defender
Riedewald his international
debut to replace Bruno Martins
Indi, who was suspended after
being sent off last Thursday in
his team s 1-0 defeat to Ice-
On the rare occasions that
the Dutch did threaten Turkey s
defense, the team s finishing
let it down.
Right winger Luciano Nars-
ingh shot straight at goalkeeper
Volkan Babacan in the 14th
with Memphis Depay and Wes-
ley Sneijder both free in front
of goal. Davy Klaassen twice
failed to get headers on target
after good crosses by Depay
and substitute Georginio Wij-
naldum headed another Depay
cross wide when all alone in
front of goal five minutes into
the second half.
"This whole qualification
campaign has been incredibly
difficult," Van Persie said. "We
still have a chance, but it is no
longer in our hands and that
Wales made to wait
before sealing spot
CARDIFF---Wales will have to wait a little
while longer to seal qualification for its first
major tournament in 58 years.
A victory over Israel yesterday would have
guaranteed Wales an automatic spot at next
year s European Championship, but the match
finished 0-0 at Cardiff City Stadium.
The unbeaten Welsh remain top of Group B
and will still qualify with two games to spare
if second-place Belgium fails to beat Cyprus
away later Sunday.
Otherwise, a draw against Bosnia-Herze-
govina away or last-place Andorra at home
will see Wales reach a first major tournament
since the 1958 World Cup.
"We wanted to get it done and dusted today,"
Wales captain Ashley Williams said. "But we
have two more games and it s still on us."
Except for one late shot that was saved, Real
Madrid star Gareth Bale was kept quiet by a
defensively minded Israel, which is third in the
The top two qualify and third place guarantees
at least a playoff berth.
For a country that has squandered a number
of great chances to end its wait for a major
tournament --- notably in 1985, 1993 and 2003
--- this will go down as another missed oppor-
tunity for Wales with the frustration evident
There was almost late drama when Wales
substitute Simon Church headed the ball into
the net with seconds left in stoppage time, but
it was ruled out for offside.
Two years ago, the Football Association of
Wales was giving away tickets for national-
team matches. But the Welsh public has recon-
nected with the football team during its rise to
No. 9 in the world rankings under manager
Chris Coleman and the Cardiff City Stadium
was sold out and rocking for the country s
biggest match in a decade.
And home fans should have been celebrating
early on, with midfielders Aaron Ramsey and
Andy Ramsey squandering decent chances.
Bale sent a free kick over and was denied by
goalkeeper Ofir Marciano in the second half,
with Israel staying compact and rarely throwing
"Frustrating day for us," Coleman said. "We
had enough chances to win it."
In Sunday s other match, Bosnia-Herzegovina
hosts Andorra and needs a win to stand a
chance of a top-two finish.
Palestinians ready to
host World Cup qualifier
RAMALLAH---Palestinians are preparing
to host their first ever World Cup qualifier
tomorrow when their team takes on the
United Arab Emirates in the first in a
series of high-profile matches in the West
Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Foot-
ball Association, described the match in
Group A of the Asian Zone qualifiers for
the 2018 World Cup as "historic."
Rajoub said other home matches would
be played in the weeks ahead.
Upcoming fixtures include home World
Cup qualifiers against Saudi Arabia in Octo-
ber and Malaysia in November.
Earlier this year, the Palestinians called
on FIFA to expel Israel from the qualifying
tournament, saying restrictions on player
movement were hurting the sport. Israel
said the restrictions are security measures.
The Palestinians withdrew their petition
at the last moment.
Dutch in danger of missing Euro 2016
Ivory Coast starts title
defence with draw
Yaya Toure's absence from Ivory Coast as it began its African title defence against Sierra Leone in
neutral Nigeria, yesterday, was obvious.
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