Monthly Archives: October 2013

A European Nations’ League?

UEFA

It emerged recently that a suggestion made at UEFA’s latest summit meeting was to replace international friendly dates with a European Nations’ League, perhaps made up of nine division of six, with promotion and relegation.

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2013/oct/10/uefa-internationals-nations-league-friendlies

This seems great for the top nations, with a regular supply of enticing fixtures, but seems rather less alluring to the middle ranked nations.  Playing the other mid ranked teams for the prospect of climbing from Division 4 to Division 4 isn’t the stuff of dreams. But if these compeitive fixtures are to replace many of the meaningless friendlies, then that is all to the good in my opinion. Continue reading

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World Cup Qualifier: San Marino 0-8 Ukraine

15thOctober 2013
World Cup Qualifier
Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino (Att. 1,268)

San Marino 0-8 Ukraine

SanMarino0-8Ukraine2

Well at least it wasn’t nine again.  That’s about all I can say about that.  What was nine however, was the number of players San Marino had left on the pitch by the end – red cards for Mirko Palazzi and Alessandro Della Valle.

Both of those players also gave away penalties, Della Valle in the first half to allow Ukraine to open the scoring after 13 minutes, and Palazzi in the second, for which he earned his marching orders with over half an hour still to go.  Della Valle’s red card came in the final minute for a second yellow in the aftermath of Ukraine’s 8th goal.

Marko Devic scored a hat-trick for Ukraine, but the win still wasn’t enough for Ukraine to take the top spot in the group and automatic qualification, thanks to England’s 2-0 win over Poland, but they head into the play offs with plenty of shooting practice under their belts.

As for San Marino, they of course showed only glimpses of endeavour.  On one occasion having gone a goal behind they did send several players up field for an attacking free kick.  What happened?  Ukraine cleared the free kick, broke quickly into the sparsely populated San Marino half and promptly scored their second, while the San Marino defence tried to hurry back and re-organise.

Even when they try and score it just results in another goal against.

SanMarino0-8UkraineSo the end of another campaign sees San Marino with another 10 straight defeats to their name, and a minus 53 goal difference to boot.  They did of course manage one goal against Poland recently, but other than that it was a total blank all round.

Where do they go from here?  Well the facile answer is that they go into a European Championship qualifying campaign and do it all over again.  But more than that, surely they need some other focus for their footballing ambitions?  Being humped on a regular basis can’t be fun.  What is to be lost by some of Europe’s true minnows arranging a few friendly fixtures against each other to at least have the opportunity to play some more attacking football once in a while?  And perhaps there would even be the chance of a victory every now and then.  Otherwise, just what is the point?

I’m not saying this trying to suggest that San Marino shouldn’t be taking part.  Quite the opposite in fact.  They, and all other nations, should be encouraged to compete as best they can in World Cup and European Championships alike.  But in addition to that an opportunity to try and win a few other games might be a worthwhile exercise, not only for trying to climb off the foot of the world rankings.

San Marino face difficulties that our other basement boys, Bhutan and Turks & Caicos Islands, don’t have, namely never competitively facing opposition that is not far above their standard and therefore potentially beatable.  They will always be in a different group from all other minnows and facing far bigger teams.  Defeat will follow defeat.

Similarly tiny Gibraltar will be on the UEFA scene shortly.  Surely a challenge match between San Marino and Gibraltar is the stuff of dreams for champions of the underdog?  I can only dream.

Final Group H Standings:

1. England Pl. 10 Pts. 22
2. Ukraine 10 21
3. Montenegro 10 15
4. Poland 10 13
5. Moldova 10 11
6. San Marino 10 0

World Cup Qualifier: Moldova 3-0 San Marino

11t October 2013
World Cup Qualifier
Zimbru Stadium, Chisinau, Moldova (Att. 5,000)

Moldova 3-0 San Marino

Moldova3-0SanMarino

San Marino didn’t do too badly in Chisinau on Friday, lasting at 0-0 until beyond half-time.  Unfortunately a repeat of last month’s goal scoring heroics wasn’t to be, and ten minutes into the second half Moldova finally got their breakthrough.

Viorel Frunza beat Aldo Simoncini, who was restored to the team between the San Marino posts, after good work from Alexandru Antoniuc.  Eugeniu Sidorenco added a second after another goal mouth scramble, before banging home the third himself a minute from time.

Moldova played patiently throughout, presumably feeling that the breakthrough would eventually come. A policy that was clearly based on fact. This win broke Moldova’s run of four matches without a win. We eon’t go into how many matches San Marino now are without a win…

So all in all not a bad showing from San Marino; a goalless first half, and keeping the score to two before the final minute.  No goals scored though, for shame.

Group H now looks like this…

1. England Pl. 9 Pts. 19
2. Ukraine 9 18
3. Montenegro 9 15
4. Poland 9 13
5. Moldova 9 8
6. San Marino 9 0

All that remains now is for San Marino to act as sacrificial lambs to the slaughter against Ukraine on Tuesday night.  Ukraine will of course need a win to try and steal top spot from England, who face Poland on the same night.

Can San Marino avoid another 9 goal humping?  Let’s hope so.

End of the World – October 2013

End

San Marino’s final two fixtures in this World Cup campaign take place in the coming days, with a visit to the next worst team in the group, Moldova, on Friday followed by a home match with Ukraine next week.

Coming on the back of a goal scoring performance last time out against Poland, San Marino will be looking to repeat the unlikely feat in Chisinau.  Surely they can’t bang in another one can they?

They’ve not managed to breach the Moldovan net in four previous meetings so hopes aren’t high, but Moldova are rather inept themselves so let’s not rule out all hope. This fixture marks the fourth October in succession that this fixture has been played. Something of a record surely, but it hasn’t been a hapyp fixture for San Marino. Continue reading