Firm Favourites Emerge On Opening Weekend
Scoring 56 goals between the 3 of them, the devastating trio of Argentina, Portugal and Nigeria has set the bar for the rest of the nations in the opening weekend of group games in this year's AIA CF Nations Cup on Sunday at The Arena.
Argentina showed they were a force to be reckoned with, topping Group A easily after scoring 21 goals and conceding zilch. Their 9-0 drubbing of Russia remains the biggest scoreline in the tournament thus far. Egypt and Sweden tied on 4 points for second, but the former took the coveted second spot and automatic qualification to the knock out stages courtesy of a better goal difference.
Sweden were left to sweat on the performances in Group B before making it through as the better 3rd placed team, after Malaysia in Group B could only muster 3 points to Sweden's 5.
Wooden-spoonists Russia exited the tournament with only a single goal to their name.
Group B was a lot more competitive.
Serbia and Japan both finished the group unbeaten with 7 points apiece. The final game saw the 2 teams battling to a goalless stalemate, which led to Serbia finishing ahead of their Japanese counterparts thanks again to a superior goal difference.
Malaysia missed out on qualification despite a valiant final game against Uruguay, where they triumphed 6 goals to 3. Uruguay, fielding a young and energetic team, were let down by a leaky defence which saw 13 goals scored against them during their 3 defeats.
The combined Group C & D kicked off with a titanic clash between Portugal and Nigeria.
The teams displayed the flair and attacking verve expected by both sets of supporters, and the game ended in the most entertaining of nil nil games. The duo then proceeded to terrorize everyone else to finish in the top 2- Portugal top with 19 goals scored and Nigeria second with 16.
Zimbabwe pipped England to the final qualifying spot of the day, after the latter failed to hold off the rampant Portuguese and eventually missed out on qualification by a single goal.
Germany, who came into the tournament with some expectations, found it difficult to get out of the blocks and were sent packing earlier in the day without a goal to their name.
After a marathon 6 hour qualifying day, we witnessed some breath-taking attacking football, as well as a handful of upsets, just the way a cup tournament should be!
Let us see who these 8 teams are going to be pitted against when the second round of groups kick off in 7 days time!
A professional armchair football critic, Boonadine Limdane has been writing about football since forever! His eloquent use of emphatic phrases and his cunning linguistic abilities is the only thing that sets him apart from his footballing mates. Other than his absolute lack of ball-sense on the pitch.
When he is not tormenting readers with his grammar (or lack-thereof), he can be found playing a round of golf in Malaysia, another sport that he has reached new levels of terrible in.