It's been an interested few days watching the TV and the web sites and following qualification for FIFA WORLD CUP 2014 with some suprising results and some horrific weather.
I started out following OCEANIA qualification with New Zealand fairly easily topping their group and the chance to play the fourth team in CONCACAF home and away in November for right to make it to Brazil. New Caledonia were the visitors at the new Forsyth Barr indoor stadium in Dunedin, South Island New Zealand. A small crowd of about 7,000 in a multi purpose stadium with a permanent roof built mainly for rugby union Otago and Highlanders, and a capacity of 30,000 or so. A roof made of a similar material to Allianz Arena in Munich.
Ricky Herbert's team won 2-1 with a late winning goal and having qualified, the All Whites made 11 changes to the starting line up for the second match against Solomon Islands at Lawson Tama Stadium in Honiara. A brace of goals by Blackburn Rovers' Tim Payne won the match 2-0.
Then looking at the time zone clock it was time to catch up on Asian qualification, with the big suprise in store for Japan who were beaten 2-1 in Jordan, while Australia are stuttering and could only tie 2-2 in Sydney to tiny Oman with a last minute goal from Tim Cahill. Four and a half spots in Brazil for Asia, with the top two in both groups A and B getting an automatic spot and a fifth team playing against the 5th team in South America. Uzbekistan lead Group A with 11 points, one more than Korea Republic who have a game in hand. Group B sees Japan ahead with 13 points followed by Jordan with 7 and the Aussies with 6 and a game in hand.
South America has it easy. Brazil qualify as hosts and the other nine countries have four automatic and one play-off chance. It looks like Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile at present with Venezuela and Uruguay battling for the wild card. Bolivia held Argentina in La Paz while Chile and Ecuador are coming on strong.
In CONCACAF we are down to the 6 team Hexagonal with three automatic and one play-off v New Zealand. Suprisingly teams have been beating each other and little Panama on top, but it is all very close. Everyone in the world probably saw the news clips of USA beating Costa Rica 1-0 in a snowstorm in mile high(1,750 metres) Denver. Ridiculous scenes and snowball fights in celebration. The Costa Ricans appeal was turned down by FIFA after they left it too late.
Four days later the Americans played in front of 110,000 fans at Estadio Azteca with only 400 visiting fans in the stands. 0-0 was the suprise result with EL TRI only picking up 3 points from their first three games. They struggled in the heat of San Pedro Sula against Honduras 2-2 and could only tie bottom place Jamaica at home 0-0. Meanwhile Panama won at home 2-0 to Honduras.
More later about Europe.