Earlier this summer when watching the England cricket team kick around a soccer ball, Roy Hodgson joked that some of the players might make the roster for England’s EURO qualifier against San Marino.
San Marino is traditionally a punching bag in EURO qualifying, as the tiny nation in the north of Italy has only won one match in it’s history, a 1-0 triumph over Liechtenstein in 2001. The country’s overall record is one win, four draws, and 124 losses, with a -530 goal differential.
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England currently sits atop Group E with six wins through six matches, while San Marino is at the bottom of the group with one point and a -19 goal differential.
Ahead of their qualifying match today, San Marino’s manager Pierangelo Manzaroli said he felt Hodgson disrespected his side with his comments, saying he should treat the European minnows the same as any other side.
I know Roy Hodgson well. He’s a very good person and well educated. But when we are in front of the media, with this exposure, you have to be careful what you say.
We are much smaller than England but we deserve respect like any country. I think it was a bit too much, too heavy, with what he said. It was very strong. Bad.”
Hodgson was clearly joking when he said England’s cricketers could play against San Marino, but he may not have been far off in his observations. San Marino’s side has only two full-time footballers, as the rest of the team is made up of laborers, office workers, and students.
San Marino will look to keep the scoreline respectable today, which they did in the first meeting when England won 5-0. A scoreless draw against Estonia earned San Marino it’s first ever point in EURO qualifying, snapping a 59-match winless streak.