Confederations Cup Semi-Finalists Decided
New Zealand football fans will not be relishing the wooden spoon their national team is bringing home from the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia. The side managed just one goal in three matches, and were beaten 2-0 by hosts Russia in the opening match in St Petersburg, 2-1 by Mexico in Sochi, and 4-0 by Portugal back in St Petersburg.
In Group B, Cameroon also failed to win a match, but they at least salvaged a 1-1 draw against Australia, going down 2-0 to Chile and 3-1 to Germany. That also leaves the African side with one point and a better goal difference, so the Kiwi team is the undisputed wooden-spooner.
Australia did slightly better than their trans-Tasman neighbours, although they also suffered an opening defeat, losing 3-2 to Germany in Sochi. However, the Socceroos got a 1-1 draw against Cameroon in their next match in St Petersburg, before heroically holding out for another 1-1 draw against Chile in Moscow on Sunday.
Australia finished third in Group B, with 2 points. They will now have to compete in the fourth round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in October and November, if they hope to make next year’s tournament. Australia qualify via the AFC confederation, whereas New Zealand is still going the OFC route. They face Solomon Islands in the finals of the OFC qualifiers in September.
As host of both the 2017 Confederations Cup and the 2018 World Cup, Russia qualified for both tournaments automatically. Their three-point third place in Group A after they lost 2-1 to Mexico in Kazan on Saturday, however, ensures that they will spend the rest of this year’s Confederations Cup as hosts and spectators, but not contenders.
Semi-Finals on Wednesday and Thursday
The first Confederations Cup semi-final is scheduled for Wednesday night in Kazan. Portugal, finishing top of Group A on goal difference, despite sharing a two-win, one-draw record with Mexico, will play Chile, who finished second in Group B. The Cameroon victory was the only win for the South American side, but 1-1 draws against both Australia and Germany were enough to see them through.
Mexico play their semi on Thursday night in Sochi. The North American side drew 2-2 with Portugal, but beat both Russia and New Zealand 2-1. They will face off against Germany in Sochi’s Olympic Stadium.
The winners of the semi-finals will play Sunday’s final in St Petersburg, while the losers meet for the third-place playoff in Moscow.
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