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Sports in brief - 2012-09-20

  • 2012-09-19

The opening two rounds of qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup have gone as expected for the three Baltic nations, which is to say, not particularly well. Lithuania is the only country to have thus far claimed a point, following their 1-1 draw at home on Sept. 7 against more fancied opponent Slovakia. However, the going was tougher on the road four days later in Greece with the Lithuanians conceding a goal in each half. Their Group G rival, Latvia, was having even less luck. Going up 1-0 from the penalty spot at home to Greece on Sept. 7, the hosts blundered any chances they had of gaining a point, allowing Greece to equalize before producing a comedy of errors that saw the Greeks walk away with three points. On Sept. 11, Latvia was again in front early playing away to Bosnia-Herzegovina, but by the time the full time hooter sounded, the visitors had been soundly beaten, 4-1. In Group D, Estonia is yet to register a goal, whilst conceding five. Losing their opening game at home to Romania 2-0, the news was not any better when the Blueshirts took to the road on Sept. 11, losing out to Turkey 3-0. Action continues on Oct. 12 when Lithuania and Latvia travel away to play Liechtenstein and Slovakia respectively, whilst Estonia host Hungary.

Following the announcement on Sept. 15 of the immediate lockout of the National Hockey League (NHL) in North America, Latvian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) team Dinamo Riga pounced quickly, immediately signing the services of Latvian national Kaspars Daugavins. With the lockout already looking ominous, Daugavins spent the off-season training in Riga with Pekka Rautakallio’s team and is expected to ease straight into the lineup. It had been hoped that the 24-year-old would be available for his new team in their 2-1 win over Amur at home on Monday. However, it is now official that that the left wing will debut against Atlant in Moscow on Sept. 21. Daugavins has played 66 NHL games in two seasons for the Ottawa Senators. Last season he picked up 11 points in 65 appearances. Daugavins also has 32 Latvian caps. Dinamo Riga has had a mixed start to the KHL season with a three-win, three-loss record. However, with two of those victories coming back-to-back in their previous two games, signs are good looking ahead to October.

Latvia will join Lithuania in Slovenia at Eurobasket 2013 after successfully navigating their way through the qualification round to finish Group D in third place with a five-win, three-loss record, making them one of the best four third-placed teams. However, their ticket could not be booked until the final night of qualification, on Sept. 11, when Ainars Bagatskis’ young troops had to beat Romania on the road, 85-77, to stay as one of the best-finishing third-place teams. The news, however, was not as good for Estonia who narrowly missed out on advancing from Group A. Stunning basketball powerhouse Serbia 88-81 at home on Sept. 8, an improbable berth in Slovenia looked likely. Going into the last night of qualifying, Estonia needed to beat Iceland, and Israel had to get up over Serbia, both realistic outcomes. Estonia kept their end of the deal, disposing of the lowly Icelanders 80-58. However, the Israelites were unable to help out, taking a sound beating from Serbia 83-67, restricting Estonia to fourth in their group. Lithuania had already qualified on account of a top-six finish at the 2011 Eurobasket in Lithuania.