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FIFA WORLD CUP 2002 - REVIEW OF MATCHES IN FEBRUARY 2001
Reviewed by PETER GODFREY
There were 38 matches in all during February spread across four of the six Confederations, with two more AFC (Asian) countries moving into their Confederations second round.
Although ranked over 50 places below Kuwait and over 20 places below Singapore, it was Bahrain who caused the biggest surprise yet in this Confederation.
Having been beaten by Kuwait in their first match in Singapore, Bahrain then won their next four matches setting up a final showdown in Kuwait against the home nation who had been held to a one-all draw by Singapore.
In the final match of the Group, it was a 72nd minute penalty that put Bahrain through to the 2nd Round at the expense of the home team who must have been rueing their draw with Singapore.
Kyrgyzstan managed to get four points with a single goal win and a draw over Singapore who did not have a good competition.
All of the Group 10 AFC matches were played in Saudi Arabia, and it was the home side who moved smoothly through winning all of their six matches with an impressive tally of 30 goals for and none against.
Mongolia, who were taking part in their first World Cup, managed to get a single point following a two-all draw against Bangladesh.
The CAF (African) Confederation saw another nine matches being played in the five second round groups. There should have been ten matches but, after losing their first two matches in Group D, Congo decided to withdraw to concentrate on the African Nations Cup, a decision that cost them $500,000 in FIFA grants.
Group favourites Cameroon found it hard going at home to Zambia winning by a single first half goal that kept them top of Group A with four wins out of four matches. Surprise second round qualifiers Libya shared six goals with visitors Togo in the other match in this group.
Following major squabbles over where the match was to be held, Liberia also struggled in Group B winning by a single goal over visitors Sierra Leone, while Ghana suffered a shock defeat by the same score in Sudan.
It took an injury time goal to save Egypt's blushes when they were held to a one-all draw by Namibia in Group C. Morocco and Senegal also drew their match with neither side being able to find the net.
The only match in Group D saw Tunisia win by six goals to nil, the highest margin in this round of Confederation matches.
Both matches in Group E finished with the away side winning by two goals to one. All three goals came in the first half in Burkina Faso where visitors Zimbabwe went home with the points. South Africa maintained their 100% record with a win in Malawi.
After winning the Semi-Final play-off in January, Costa Rica played their first match in the final deciding CONCACAF group at home to Honduras and after going behind twice managed to get a 2 - 2 draw thanks to an injury time equaliser.
Trinidad & Tobago visited neighbours Jamaica but came away empty handed as the home side won by a single first half goal In the big match of the day United States played hosts to Mexico in Columbus, Ohio. Two goals were enough for the United States to go to the top of the table on goal difference.
There were also two UEFA Confederation matches this month with Portugal beating Andorra in Madeira by three goals to nil to take them four points clear in Group 2, and Belgium taking the expected points off visitors San Marino with a massive ten goals to one victory in Group 6 which saw them go ahead of Scotland on goal difference.
There are 72 World Cup qualifying matches taking place during March with 53 matches taking place over a four day period between 24th and 28th of the month, 43 of these are in the UEFA Confederation.
After a three month break, the second half of the South American (CONMEBOL) qualification matches start again with Argentina five points clear of Brazil and Paraguay.
March will also see all of Group 3 of the AFC Confederation being played.
Its all systems go as we head towards the end of November when we will know who joins the host countries and France in the finals that are now just 15 months away.