Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Bottom Five: San Marino

All the glamour goes to Spain, Holland, Brazil, etc., and rightfully so. But what about life at the bottom of the world rankings? In a five-part series, Staff Writer Chris Lillstrung looks at the five international soccer teams at the bottom of the FIFA rankings.


Manager: Giampaolo Mazza
Notable players abroad: GK Aldo Simoncini (Bellaria Igea, Italy); F Andy Selva (Hellas Verona, Italy)
What’s so bad?: On April 18, 2004, San Marino won a friendly, 1-0, over another really small country in Liechentenstein. It’s San Marino’s only win. EVER. Probably the country’s biggest result came in 1993, when it tied Turkey in a World Cup qualifier. Selva is the only player in the nation’s history to score more than one goal. He has eight in his international career. In 2010 World Cup qualifying in Europe, San Marino lost all 10 of its matches by a goal differential of 47-1. None of that is good for business.
What’s good: Not a whole lot obviously, but the one bright spot is the emergence of the 24-year-old Simoncini in goal. It’s a rough spot to put any goalkeeper in, but he has drawn praise for keeping scorelines from getting in the 20s, which is a plus for this nation. In a recent Euro 2012 qualifier against Sweden, San Marino played a man up for an hour and STILL lost, 6-0, with just 29 percent possession (video of which can be found here). But Simoncini kept it from being much worse. Beyond that, there appears to be a new generation of young players coming along who all ply their trade in Italy. That’s a plus for this tiny landlocked nation of just 30,000. That and a lovely view of the Apennines.


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