San Marino has drawn two of its last three matches.
The history of San Marino football has had its proud moments.
It’s certainly a relatively short story.
Although the Football Association (FSC) was founded in 1931, San Marino did not become a member of Fifa and Uefa until 1988, and the first official match of the national team took place in November 1990.
Nestled in the hills overlooking the Italian Riviera, this small state of about 30,000 people has a tiny pool of potential players.
The FSGC has perhaps 1,800 registered players, including futsal, youth, women’s and men’s footballers, compared to the more than 14 million registered with the FA, the lefties they face in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley on Thursday.
To date, only 100 of the 450 players playing in the club’s 15 non-professional leagues have a San Marino passport and less than a handful play in the lower divisions of Italian professional football.
The result of all these pessimistic statistics is Fifa’s worst ranking in the world, an external link with Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands.
San Marino has one win and six draws in its last 31.
Football has always had a social aspect here, said Andy Selva, San Marino’s most popular player and top scorer with 73 appearances and eight goals, including the only goal in the country’s friendly win over Liechtenstein on February 28. April 2004. External reference
He believes that the public sees the national team as something to enjoy rather than something to live for, which has influenced the development of the team.
We lack the technical, tactical and managerial knowledge to improve the overall quality of our football, says Selva.
And while it’s not easy with limited resources, the FGCP has begun to fill those gaps with the appointment of Franco Varrella in January 2018.
Varrella is a manager who has traveled extensively in Italy. So how can he attempt the impossible and turn the small town of San Marino into a competitive force?
When you play against Germany or England, you may put on a different shirt.When you play against Germany or England, you may put on a different shirt.
Franco Varella has drawn two games and lost 20 of 22 in San Marino.
Although he was born just 20 km from Rimini, he is not expected in San Marino.
He has managed important clubs of Serie B, such as Brescia, Salernitana, Reggiana, Tristina and Ravenna, was assistant to Arrigo Sacchi during Euro 96 in England and is a teacher in Coverciano, the central training centre of Italy.
But he’s in San Marino, and there are signs of progress. San Marino have played 0-0 in each of their last two Nations League games against Gibraltar and Liechtenstein – a remarkable feat for a team that has lost just seven games and won one in the last 31 years.
I’ve been here almost four years now and things have changed for the better, he says with a smile.
Above all, we have brought with us a new sense of identity and belonging. We represent our country, which is small, but should be important to us.
Not so long ago in Germany, England or Spain you could change your shirt at half-time. That’s changed now. We give our best until the end, everything else can come after. In fact, the biggest improvement is in the mindset.
England last played San Marino in a Euro 2016 qualifier in 2015, a game the Three Lions won 6-0.
More importantly, mentality alone cannot close the gap with professional players who train several times a week on modern equipment and do not earn their living as electricians or mechanics.
We also meet more often at camps; it’s important to foster team spirit. This has allowed them to develop both technically and tactically, said Varrella, who uses his connections in Coverciano to teach his coaches.
He also insisted that San Marino’s junior teams use the same tactics as the senior team to create consistency.
I will coach the national team until the end of the World Cup qualifiers, he said.
But I’m going to be around for a while to finish this process. I’m sure that the new technical director Daniele Arrigoni [former coach of Palermo and Livorno], who has a lot of experience in Serie A and B, will help us a lot.
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David Gualtieri scored a memorable goal against England in 1994.
Davide Gualtieri is a familiar name to anyone who loves the San Marino game.
With a time of 6.3 seconds, he held the record for the fastest goal in a Fifa match for more than two decades.
On this day in 1994, England took on San Marino in Bologna, and immediately after the kickoff Stuart Pearce delivered a pass. The then 22-year-old striker surpassed David Seaman to shock a nation. England eventually won 7-1, but their mark was set.
Today I work in IT, FGCP is my client and I set up a Wi-Fi network for them at the Serravalle stadium, he says.
At the last European Under-21 Championships in Italy, he witnessed San Marino’s rise under Varrella and the benefits of the new Serravalle pitch, created thanks to UEFA investment.
The lawn now looks like a pool table, Gualtieri says.
We have received compliments from journalists, teams and authorities, which is a testament to the good work done in such a small country.
A second field is under construction, as well as a brand new soccer arena.
Serravalle is transformed into a beautiful sports complex that is essential for the development of our movement, adds the current coach of futsal San Giovanni.
It looks like they are doing San Marino a favor.
Yet there is still a long way to go. The infrastructure at the club level is not always in place, and there are no former players or coaches on the FCS board.
We are the only club in Europe to do so and that is more than a pity, complained Selva, who now leads Pennarossa in the regional competition.
We were able to help with proper planning and lay the groundwork for future success.
San Marino Calcio, in red, was disbanded two years ago.
Gualtieri also believes that something needs to change and a new perspective is needed, especially after the demise of the only club in the country to play in the Italian leagues two years ago, San Marino Calcio.
It’s hard for our local players to develop in such a competitive league, he said.
This makes them irrelevant. Sometimes it seems like they’re doing San Marino a favor when they get called up. That certainly wasn’t the case in my day.
Despite all this progress, it looks like it will be a long, slow road for the FSGC board and its man in Rimini.
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