How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love San Marino

TFN regular David Wild finds some solace in the the spirit of San Marino…

“Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting” – George Orwell – The Sporting Spirit, 1945

As England held their breath last week and the spheres of World Cup Qualification began to move in the favour of Heavyweights and Underdogs alike, another, less heralded game was being played out, miles away from the oceans of expectancy. Despite the lack of TV camera focus and fanfare this was a match that would answer another burning question in the footballing world.

Would this be San Marino’s worst round of major tournament qualifiers ever?

20:00 GMT- 15/10/13 – San Marino lined up against Ukraine having conceded an average of 5 goals per game in World Cup 2014 qualifying, roughly one goal every 1080 seconds. Euro 2012 tournament qualifiers had seen them concede 53 goals without reply, their worst figures to date. La Serenissima faced up this time against the impending yellow threat determined to stand strong.

They lasted 13 minutes before conceding, then shipped another 7 that night. As can be seen in the figures below, this meant that the worrying upward trend of goals conceded per game in tournament qualifiers continued to haunt the ‘whipping boys’ of European football. Continue reading

Foreign Talent Driving Ukrainian Resurgence

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The False Nine’s David Dodds takes a look at the burgeoning amount of foreign talent in the Ukrainian Premier League…

In recent years, Ukrainian teams have been able to entice some real quality from abroad. No one has benefited from foreign players more than Shakhtar Donetsk, who last season won the league for the third year in a row. Shakhtar were nowhere near as prominent in the old Soviet system as arch-rivals Dynamo Kiev, and spent much of the first decade in the new Ukrainian league playing second-fiddle to their auspicious rivals. Continue reading