It’s the game The FA were publicising as ‘the game you can’t afford to miss’: England v San Marino. Yes, the mighty San Marino. Okay, I’ll admit it was a play on words about their cheaper ticket prices, but it’s still a game The FA clearly feel has the potential to be a good one. This possibly has something to do with San Marino’s international record: played 112, won 1, drawn 4, lost 107, scored 19 and conceded an impressive 467. England are expected to put on a jolly good show. They’ll knock the ball around a bit, score 6 or more goals and then have a Nandos like all good professional footballers. All a piece of cake, except for the small matter of the San Marinians wanting to make the English lads work for that over priced spicy chicken. Here’s everything you need to know about the smallest country in UEFA.
Do I know any of their players?
No. No you do not. Their squad of 20 players contains only 2 who don’t play for a team in San Marino. One of those is unattached, the other plies his trade in the fourth division of Italian football. Only three members of the squad have ever scored an international goal, one of them being all time top scorer Andy Selva, who has eight. Selva is a club team mate of Damiano Vannucci at La Fiorita, who is the most capped player for his country with 66. And to think the people of England believe there’s an issue with developing talent.
That one win, tell me more?
28th April 2004, at home to Liechtenstein in a friendly in front of 700 fans. Andy Selva’s 5th minute goal was enough to secure a 1-0 victory for his country. The previous year the San Marinians had snatched a draw off the same opponent after being 2-0 down, again in a friendly. Their two competitive points came away at Latvia with a 1-1 draw in 2001 and, more impressively, a 0-0 at home to Turkey in 1993.
700 people at a home game, do they play at the back of the local pub?
Not quite. The Stadio Olimpicco is the national arena, holding a maximum capacity of 7,000 seated spectators. Think Carlisle away on a cold Tuesday night, then make that image 10 times worse. That’s the experience the Olimpicco is going to offer you. It’s also used by San Marino Calcio, a club side from San Marino who play in the Italian 3rd division. Unsurprisingly, they only have one San Marianian in their squad.
Do they have a manager or do they sort themselves out like a Sunday League side?
A manager. Giampaolo Mazza, an Italian with a history in the lower leagues of his country’s football set up, has been manager since 1998. He played for San Marino Calcio and even earned 5 caps for the national side in the early 1990s. More importantly though, he’s currently a PE teacher at a school near San Marino. I can’t imagine Uncle Roy putting on his jogging bottoms and teaching at a London Comprehensive.
Do they have a chance?
Well everything is possible in foo… No of course they don’t.