22nd March 2013
World Cup Qualifier
Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle
San Marino 0-8 England
Let’s just say that San Marino were lucky that England didn’t score more than eight. To say that this could easily have been ten or more is quite an understatement. Thankfully for San Marino, England had half an eye on the job they need to do in Montenegro on Tuesday; various changes through the second half to rest players for that game easing things off somewhat.
Not even on this occasion could we even cling on to the faint hope of holding out for 30 or more minutes and frustrating the opposition; a twelfth minute own goal from Alessandro Della Valle starting off the scoreboard operator’s busy night. But also not even the normal late collapse as tiredness set in. The collapse had come long before that and England, even though they needed a good goal difference boost, were more than happy with their lot to not need a late push for more.
It was 5-0 by half-time, and all hopes of anything positive were already gone. This now makes it 58 qualifying matches in succession that San Marino have lost – surely a record. But this match was never for altering that record, but some sign of being able to stem the tide would have been encouraging.
Of course there were plenty of the “They shouldn’t be allowed to play in the World Cup” comments, which is harsh in the extreme. Ok so they can’t be competitive against the likes of England but have just as much right to enter a World Cup as anyone else.
What I can see less of an argument against though is the call for the smaller nations in Europe to have to pre-qualify through a preliminary round. It would avoid the kind of totally inept showing that San Marino sadly put on this Friday, but would also mean that the smaller nations have a chance to play a few competitive matches against teams closer to their level, and dare I say it, occasionally win some games.
The weakest would fail to progress to play the big nations, but the opportunity would be there for some to make it through. Other confederations work this way, I fail to see why Europe can’t.
Anyway, back to Friday. Match highlights can be seen here…
In the night’s other Group H matches, Poland lost 1-3 at home to Ukraine and Montenegro grabbed an important late winner in Chisinau to beat Moldova and remain top of the group ahead of England. San Marino are last…
Next up is a trip away to Poland on Tuesday. A slightly reduced goals against total than against England wouldn’t go amiss.
|1.||Montenegro||Pl. 5||Pts. 13|