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Son after Spurs’ smashing equalizer: “Obiang’s goal was better”

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The festive season finished with a bang, well, bangs, as Pedro Obiang and Heung-Min Son smashed second half stunners in a 1-1 draw between West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley Stadium on Thursday.

[ MORE: Recap | Watch both goals ]

After saying Spurs were “upset and unlucky” to not leave the match. with all three points, Son turned his attention to the twin screamers.

From the BBC:

“Obiang’s goal was better – the strike was unbelievable. We have the best goalkeeper in the world and he can’t do nothing. It was a great strike. My goal is not important, a beautiful goal or a dirty goal, it doesn’t matter tonight.”

Spurs outshot West Ham 31-3, and Obiang’s goal was the Irons’ first on target effort of the night.

For the 24-year-old Son, one of the more under-appreciated and versatile attackers in a top league, it’s the seventh PL goal of the season. He scored 14 last season, a career-high.

PHOTO, VIDEO: Colombia’s Edwin Cardona accused of racist gesture

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Colombia’s Edwin Cardona is about to be in big trouble with FIFA.

Cardona, 24, seemed to make an eye-slit gesture during Colombia’s 2-1 defeat to South Korea in Suwon on Friday.

The racist act has infuriated fans in South Korea and Cardona can surely expect a lengthy ban.

Below is a look at the images which appears to show Cardona making the eye-slit gesture towards the South Korean players.

There is no way that Cardona will escape a ban and a hefty fan for his actions, and although the ban may not prevent him from playing at the World Cup in Russia next summer the Colombian FA should think very carefully about how severely they should punish him given the severity of his actions.

Colombia will play a friendly at China on Tuesday to round off their international action for 2017.

Brazil hammer Japan; Serbia, South Korea win

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There are plenty of friendlies taking place across the globe this week as teams step up their 2018 World Cup preparations.

Five teams who have already booked their spot at the tournament in Russia next summer were in action early on Friday with Brazil, Serbia and South Korea all grabbing wins.

Below is a roundup of the games which took place, with plenty of other international friendlies to come in the next few days.

Japan 1-3 Brazil

The Seleceao were purring in Lille, France as Neymar scored from the penalty spot early on (with the help of VAR giving a decision against Southampton and Japan defender Maya Yoshida) but the PSG star then missed a second spot kick in the first half. Not to worry as Marcelo smashed home to make it 2-0 and and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus finished off a flowing team move to make it 3-0 before half time. Japan pulled a goal back in the second half through Tomoaki Makino but Brazil dominated as they now face England at Wembley next Tuesday. Japan face Belgium in Brugge on Tuesday.

South Korea 2-1 Colombia

Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son scored twice for South Korea as they beat much-fancied Colombia in Suwon. Cristian Zapata pulled a goal back for a strong Los Cafeteros side who had James Rodriguez and Davinson Sanchez in the starting lineup, plus Carlos Bacca and Edwin Cardona jumped off the bench with Juan Cuadrado an unused sub. Colombia travel to Chongqing to face China on Tuesday.

China 0-2 Serbia

Torino’s Adem Ljajic opened the scoring for managerless Serbia in Guangzhou and Newcastle’s Aleksandar Mitrovic made it 2-0 in the second half. Serbia play against South Korea in Ulsan on Tuesday. Good preparations for Serbia ahead of their first appearance at a World Cup since 2010.

2018 World Cup Power Rankings — 10 months B.W.C.

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Can Germany become the first nation since Brazil (1958 and 1962) to repeat as World Cup winners? Can the Brazilians exorcise their demons of 7-1? Has the next wave of Spanish brilliance/impending dominance arrived?

Will Italy contend again after failing to advance from the group stage two tournaments in a row? Can one of the up-and-comers — Belgium, Colombia, Portugal or England — make good on years (decades, in England’s case) of promise and potential? What are the U.S. national team’s chances, assuming they manage to qualify?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s 2018 World Cup coverage | USMNT | Premier League ]

These are just a handful of the questions at the forefront of so many folks’ minds, as we now sit just over 10 months from the start of the 2018 World Cup. Beginning today (10 months B.W.C.), and following every international break leading up to next summer’s tournament in Russia, the PST staff will be keeping tabs on these stories, and more, in our World Cup Power Rankings.

According to our esteemed panelists — Joe Prince-Wright, Nicholas Mendola, Kyle Bonn, Matt Reed, Dan Karell and yours truly — there are five or six sides with a genuine shot at being crowned world champions in July. As always, if you disagree with the final results, feel free to shout at all of the above, except me, on Twitter (links above).

Team Points Best Worst
Germany 116 1 3
Brazil 115 1 2
France 106 2 4
Spain 105 1 5
Belgium 91 4 10
Colombia 84 6 9
Italy 75 5 16
Portugal 72 5 16
Uruguay 71 7 11
Switzerland 61 9 13
Mexico 54 10 16
England 52 9 15
Nigeria 33 12 NR
Chile 33 7 NR
Costa Rica 23 14 NR
Japan 20 9 NR
Ivory Coast 16 14 NR
Peru 16 13 NR
Poland 12 12 NR
South Korea 9 16 NR

As you’ve probably already noticed, the USMNT didn’t make the final top-20 list. Here’s everyone’s thoughts on the USMNT, and where they slot in among 2018 hopefuls:

JPW: USA rank — 30th. The last international break summed up just how much work needs to be done between now and next summer if the USMNT qualifies for the World Cup. Getting out of the group stage would seem like a big achievement as things stand.

NM: USA rank — 25th. The U.S. entered September ranked 30th in ELO, and 26th by FIFA, though not every team in front of them will be going to Russia, either. If I project a 32-team field, placing the U.S. with a seeded team, a European team, and probably an African side or South American side (The U.S. has been in a pot with Asian sides the last two draws), it’s not good. In most scenarios, barring hosts Russia being in the U.S. group, I’d expect this current bunch to fail to reach the group stage. Of the teams who may make the field, I’d put U.S. hopes ahead of most of the Asian sides, one or two European sides, and another couple of African qualifiers.

KB: The United States is currently ranked 26th in FIFA, and that’s with a Gold Cup win that included a number of B squads. I would not put this current US team anywhere near the Top 20 until it shows it can win consistently against even mid-level sides like Honduras or Panama.

AE: USA rank — 22nd. Once you move past the top five or so sides — you know, the ones that actually have a chance of winning the World Cup — everyone is fatally flawed in any number of ways. The USMNT is no different than the rest of these, but with one favorable exception: 14 of the 23 players on the most recent roster have World Cup experience, with the majority of those having been to multiple finals tournaments. If/when they qualify, they’ll leapfrog a half-dozen other sides without that experience, making them a fringe Round of 16 side, if they get there.

MR: USA rank — 25th. Let’s face it. It’s been a difficult week for the USMNT, and while the squad is still very much in the running for a trip to Russia next summer Bruce Arena and Co. are crawling into the World Cup at this point. Solely judging this team off of what I believe they can be versus what they are right now, I’d say the U.S. can and should be a top 20 team heading into 2018, however, watching these last two matches have reiterated several of my previous concerns, especially in the central midfield. I’d put the U.S. somewhere around 25 in the field of 32 World Cup teams, assuming a bid to Russia is in the cards.

DK: USA rank — 19th. I had the USA in No. 19 because I actually am taking a more positive look at the draw in Honduras. The USA lost this game in the last World Cup cycle under Klinsmann and coming back on the road in the Honduran heat in a World Cup qualifier with everything on the line takes guts and determination. Just as the fortunes turned with the famed “snow game” in Denver against Costa Rica, perhaps this could be a moment like that for this USMNT team that basically needs to win out to ensure safe passage to the World Cup

And then there were 8: South Korea, Saudi Arabia qualify for World Cup

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Saudi Arabia and South Korea have joined Iran and Japan in the Asian Football Confederation’s delegation to Russia, leaving Syria and Australia to duel for the intercontinental playoff spot and six other nations on the outside of football’s biggest tournament.

[ MORE: New Zealand advances to playoff ]

Lowly Thailand finished with two points but ultimately stands as Australia’s automatic qualifying spoiler, while UAE, Qatar, China, and Iraq were eliminated before the start of play. Uzbekistan also misses out after failing to pass Syria or South Korea.

Uzbekistan 0-0 South Korea

Neither side won over the course of their final three qualifiers, costing the hosts a place in Russia. South Korea was able to advance with the point, and the Taegeuk Warriors will play in their ninth-straight World Cup.

Saudi Arabia 1-0 Japan

Fahad Al-Muwallad’s 63rd minute goal helped the Green Falcons to their first World Cup since 2006.

Australia 2-1 Thailand

The Socceroos could not make up two goals of difference on Saudi Arabia, and will face Syria for the chance to play CONCACAF’s fourth-place team in the interconfederation playoff. Thailand’s goal differential of minus-18 have Australia hope, even on the road, but tournament leading scorer Tomi Juric and Hertha Berlin’s Mathew Leckie were the only goal scorers for the Socceroos.

Iran 2-2 Syria

A win against already-qualified Iran would’ve put Syria into the World Cup ahead of South Korea, and the visitors had a 1-0 lead early only to need a stoppage time goal from Al Ahli striker Omar Al Somah to move ahead of Uzbekistan for third place in Group B.