‘Homeless’ Somalia shock Zimbabwe for first World Cup victory

Zimbabwe, at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, above, was defeated 1 – 0 by Somalia in Djibouti. (AFP Photo)
Updated 05 September 2019

‘Homeless’ Somalia shock Zimbabwe for first World Cup victory

  • Unable to play at home because of the unstable security situation in the east African country, the Somalis moved the first round first leg to Djibouti
  • The Ocean Stars shrugged off the disadvantage to win the match four minutes from time when Ali soared to head home a perfectly weighted cross

JOHANNESBURG: A late Anwar Sid Ali goal enabled Somalia to shock Zimbabwe 1-0 Thursday and achieve their first World Cup qualifying victory.
Unable to play at home because of the unstable security situation in the east African country, the Somalis moved the first round first leg to Djibouti.
The Ocean Stars shrugged off the disadvantage to win the match four minutes from time when Ali soared to head a perfectly weighted cross into the corner of the net.
Zimbabwe, who competed at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations three months ago, host the return match in Harare Tuesday.
This is the sixth appearance of the Somalis in World Cup qualifying and they have been able to play at home only once, in a 1982 eliminator.
The best results they managed before facing Zimbabwe were three draws. They lost eight other qualifiers, including five-goal hidings from Ghana and Ethiopia.
Somalia are ranked 202 of 211 football nations — 90 places below Zimbabwe in the latest world rankings.
Sudan and Rwanda achieved comfortable away victories in other first legs, virtually guaranteeing progress to the second qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Ramadan Agab scored a hat-trick to give Sudan a 3-1 victory in neighboring Chad, only the third away win for the Jediane Falcons in 32 World Cup qualifiers.
He completed his treble midway through the second half in N’Djamena before Chadian Ezechiel N’Douassel converted a penalty.
Rwanda cruised to a 3-0 victory over the Seychelles in Victoria with two goals within four minutes during the opening half setting them up to succeed.
Muhadjir Hakizimana and Yannick Mukunzi netted for the Rwandan Wasps before half-time and Maddie Kagere added a third goal nine minutes from time.
On Friday, former World Cup qualifiers Angola and Togo start their campaigns. Comoros host the Togolese in Moroni and the Gambia have home advantage over the Angolans in Bakau.


Tottenham look to seize on Chelsea’s Premier League slump

Updated 21 February 2020

Tottenham look to seize on Chelsea’s Premier League slump

LONDON: Jose Mourinho had almost reached the end of his lament about the current situation facing his weary Tottenham players when he turned his attention to their next Premier League game against a team he knows so well.

“The Chelsea players were watching this game on TV,” Mourinho said after Tottenham’s 1-0 home loss to Leipzig in the Champions League, “with nice sparkling water, with lemons and biscuits, enjoying the game.”

If only the outlook at Chelsea were so rosy.

Indeed, recent results suggest the predicament of Mourinho’s old club is more concerning than Tottenham’s.

Chelsea, somehow, find themselves still holding onto fourth place in the league heading into Saturday’s London derby against their nearest rivals in the race for Champions League qualification. That’s despite collecting only 15 points from its last 14 games, a dire run stretching back to the end of November.

At that time, Chelsea were on a six-match winning streak — its best since the team’s title-winning season of 2016-17 — and wasn’t too far behind Liverpool, the current runaway leader. Youngsters like Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori were regular starters, given their opportunity by an up-and-coming manager in Frank Lampard who is eager to promote youth. US winger Christian Pulisic was in his best form since his move from
Borussia Dortmund.

Fast forward three months and injuries are starting to bite, the kids are starting to feel the pace in a grueling season, and Lampard — a bright, eloquent and engaging manager — has been grumbling about the club’s failure to add numbers to the squad in January and his players’
wastefulness in front of goal.

“I must sound like a broken record,” a clearly frustrated Lampard said after seeing Chelsea get picked off in a 2-0 home loss to Manchester United on Monday.

Lampard’s main gripe is the team’s inability to finish off chances, which has become more pronounced with Abraham — a scorer of 13 league goals this season — currently out injured.

With Callum Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic also missing against United, Lampard played a front three of Willian, Michy Batshuayi and Pedro Rodriguez — a throwback to a few years ago and an era Chelsea fans probably thought they’d seen the back of.

Key midfielder N’Golo Kante joined Abraham on the injury list after going off early against United, while Lampard is still playing 38-year-old Willy Caballero in goal after dropping Kepa Arrizabalaga — signed in 2018 as the world’s most expensive goalkeeper.

It’s an uncertain period for Lampard, who is still a rookie in managerial terms, and Chelsea’s recent slump has seen as many as seven teams move within seven points or closer in the standings.

In that three-month period, Tottenham have won 29 points — a haul second only to Liverpool. That coincided exactly with Mourinho taking over as manager from Mauricio Pochettino.

The issue, now, is whether Spurs can keep it up, and Mourinho clearly has his doubts. With attackers Son Heung-min and Harry Kane out potentially for the rest of the season, Mourinho likened his team to someone “going to fight with a gun without bullets.”

Amid a hectic schedule that has seen his team play two FA Cup replays since the turn of the year, Mourinho said he has been forced to start with the same group of players for matches every three of four days. Erik Lamela and Tanguy Ndombele came off the bench against Leipzig having barely trained.

“I try to manage the pieces that we had,” he said.

Throw in the fact that Tottenham has a tight turnaround after the Leipzig match — Wednesday night to Saturday lunchtime — and Mourinho will feel he has genuine cause for grievance.

Yet, he is managing to scramble together results and a win at Stamford Bridge, where he previously enjoyed two separate trophy-winning spells as coach and was once revered, would see Tottenham climb above Chelsea.

Outmanoeuvring Mourinho, his former coach, in a 2-0 win at Tottenham in December was one of the few bright spots for Lampard in recent months. 

Doing so again would give him and Chelsea some much-needed breathing space in what is suddenly a bunched chase for Champions League qualification.