Tag Archives: aldo simoncini

Worst in the World Tales: San Marino’s Escape

SanMarinoEstonia

The arrival of new coach Pierangelo Manzaroli must have been a breath of fresh air to the San Marino squad. After 16 years under the previous coach, a change of leader and a gentle change in outlook was surely a refreshing switch. Locked into their endless cycle of defeat, the arrival of a new coach who many of them had worked with successfully in the under-21 side, who famously beat Wales 2-1 in a European qualifier, would herald a renewed level of hope. Continue reading

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Worst in the World Hall of Fame – Aldo Simoncini

HOFWith the recent successful exploits of the San Marino team in grabbing a 0-0 draw with Estonia which saw them rise from the pits of global football despair known as the foot of the FIFA world rankings to the giddy heights of somewhere not far above the bottom, also known as joint 180th, it seemed appropriate to reward the most prominent hero of that achievement in a Hall of Fame.

The inaugural inductee into the newly formed World in the World Hall of Fame is the San Marino goalkeeper Aldo Simoncini, whose string of fine saves that had kept scores low in previous matches now saw San Marino claim a first ever competitive clean sheet.

Simoncini, a 28 year old semi professional who also moonlights as an accountant, has something of an interesting back story.  As a teenager he played for Modena in Italy’s Serie B, a level only the great Massimo Bonini once of Juventus has exceeded as a Sammarinese, and was highly rated.  But his dreams of making it into the professional ranks were ended by a terrible car accident after which he was unsure of even playing the game again, let alone climbing to higher levels.  At the time the doctors weren’t even sure he’d be able to walk normally again. Continue reading

European Championships: San Marino 0-0 Estonia

Saturday 15th November 2014
European Championship Qualifying Group E
Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino

San Marino 0-0 Estonia

a0995-san-marino-draw-against-estoniaOh my!  They’ve only gone and done it!  After thirteen and a half long years without a competitive point in either World Cup or European Championship qualifying, San Marino secured a stunning 0-0 draw against Estonia.  And stunning is the word, with Aldo Simoncini in goal earning the greatest of plaudits for his string of fine saves throughout, but with San Marino managing to provide something of a threat going forwards at times too, albeit an occasional and limited one.

Sadly only 759 lucky souls were in attendance to witness history being made, compared to the 5,700 who attended the 4-0 defeat to Switzerland last month.  But those who stayed away missed the gaining of San Marino’s first ever European Championship point coming at the 60th attempt; their only two previous competitive non defeats coming in World Cup qualification.  It is also just over a decade since they last tasted anything other than defeat in what is to date their only ever victory;  a 1-0 friendly win over Liechtenstein in April 2004. Continue reading

Match Report: European Championship: San Marino 0-4 Switzerland

Tuesday 14th October 2014
European Championships Qualifying Group E
Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino

San Marino 0-4 Switzerland

SanMarino0-4SwizterlandA strong first half from the Swiss set them on their way to a predictably comfortable win in Serravalle over the Sammarinese boys in blue, who were missing top goal scorer Andy Selva to injury, replaced by Mattia Stefanelli. 

The win provided Switzerland with their belated first points of the group.  Coming into this game, Switzerland had suffered defeats to England, 2-0 at home, and Slovenia, 1-0 away.

But this was always going to be an easier task and two goals from Haris Seferovic in the opening 24 minutes meant that any fears of a shock result were well and truly dismissed early on.  A third was added before half an hour was up through Blerim Dzemaili and a fourth in the second half from Xherdan Shaqiri to garner Switzerland’s first points and drag them clear of San Marino at the bottom – a situation that was never likely to last for long. Continue reading

Euro 2016: England 5-0 San Marino

Thursday 9th October 2014
European Championships Qualifying Group E
Wembley Stadium, London, England

England 5-0 San Marino

England-v-San-MarinoSan Marino suffered a 5-0 defeat at Wembley that actually saw a little more progressive play from the boys in blue than had been the case in their previous recent matches with England.  While not threatening very often or very convincingly, they did at least have a couple of efforts on goal and looked to get forward when the opportunity arose.  It didn’t arise often of course; there were repeated occasions when there was simply no out ball.  But it was noticeable to me that under coach Pierangelo Manzeroli that San Marino are willing to try a little more than simply to frustrate.

Manzeroli has had a little but of success (it’s all relative of course…) with the under-21 side, including a victory of Wales not so long ago, and it is encouraging what he is looking to implement with the senior side. Continue reading

Euro 2016: San Marino 0-2 Lithuania

Monday 8th September 2014
European Championships Qualifying Group E
Stadio Olimpico, Serravalle, San Marino

San Marino 0-2 Lithuania

SanMarino0-2Lithuania

San Marino’s Euro 2016 campaign got under way last week in Serravalle with a promising if ultimately futile performance from the boys in blue.

Two first half goals were sufficient to take the points for the Baltic nation, but the narrowness of the scoreline come full time with provide some small crumbs of comfort for San Marino.  It was a bad start however, as Lithuania took the lead after just four minutes when Mindaugas Kalonas was put clear on the right hand side and crossed for Deivydas Matulevicius to prod home into an unguarded net. Continue reading

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

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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