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ITV comments on San Marino 21:33 - Nov 15 with 2675 viewsZx1988

ITV team going big tonight on the "San Marino shouldn't even be allowed to enter the qualifiers" argument.

Can't agree with that at all. One of the joys/beauties of football is that it's a game for everyone. San Marino is a country with a national team and, regardless of their quality, they shouldn't be told that they're not good enough to play against certain sides.

Despite the scoreline, this is a night (alongside their trip to Wembley) that none of the Sammarinese players will ever forget, or would want to be deprived of.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 07:47 - Nov 16 with 1709 viewsOsborneOneNil

I hear ya. But not sure I agree.

Witham FC don’t get an annual game at Old Trafford as it’s a game for all. They have to work hard and earn that game by either moving through the league pyramid, or winning a fair few Cup games.

What is San Marino’s record, 1 win in 218 odd games? That tells you everything.
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ITV comments on San Marino on 08:01 - Nov 16 with 1673 viewsJon_456

I wasnt watching entirely but wasn't their point more that there should be some form of pre-qualifiers before entering the qualifiers, to save them getting battered every game?

Surely that would be better for them where they face teams with at least a slim chance of getting something from the game. As opposed to their objective being to keep the score in single figures.
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ITV comments on San Marino on 08:12 - Nov 16 with 1644 viewsChrisd

I can’t agree. I really can’t see the benefit of playing an international side and spanking them 10-0, how is that going to help San Marino’s development? The only way they will improve is playing sides of a similar standard and winning games consistently before progressing to that next level. That’s where the Nations Cup is so helpful for countries like San Marino as it matches them against countries of a similar standard or ranking. The game last night was utterly pointless for England too, what did we get out from that contest? Even blooding some of the youngsters like Smith Rowe, the match has no standing or impact, it simply was no benefit for either country IMO.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 08:18 - Nov 16 with 1619 viewsGuthrum

ITV comments on San Marino on 08:01 - Nov 16 by Jon_456

I wasnt watching entirely but wasn't their point more that there should be some form of pre-qualifiers before entering the qualifiers, to save them getting battered every game?

Surely that would be better for them where they face teams with at least a slim chance of getting something from the game. As opposed to their objective being to keep the score in single figures.


Hence the qualifiers and first couple of rounds of the FA Cup, the early rounds of the EFL Cup, etc.

But, presumably, FIFA don't think they could sell so many lucrative TV rights if the big teams weren't in there from the start.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 08:32 - Nov 16 with 1579 viewsGlasgowBlue

They should be in a minnows qualifying group. Along with the likes of Andorra, Luxembourg and Scotland.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 08:47 - Nov 16 with 1533 viewsHerbivore

ITV comments on San Marino on 08:01 - Nov 16 by Jon_456

I wasnt watching entirely but wasn't their point more that there should be some form of pre-qualifiers before entering the qualifiers, to save them getting battered every game?

Surely that would be better for them where they face teams with at least a slim chance of getting something from the game. As opposed to their objective being to keep the score in single figures.


The idea of pre-qualifying is good in principle but there's a few issues with it. Firstly, where do you fit it in the current international calendar? There's not much room to squeeze it in. Secondly, what then happens to the sides who don't qualify? They'll be sat around for 2 years with no matches and that really isn't going to help them to develop at all. Finally, who gets included in the minnows group? There's quite a lot of sides that have virtually zero chance of qualifying for major tournament and who get walloped consistently by the bigger nations, looking through qualifying currently there's up to a dozen sides you could make a case don't warrant going straight into qualifying.

Not dismissing the idea of pre-qualifying entirely but I'm not sure it would serve the apparently intended purpose of helping the lesser sides as most of them would end up only playing every 2 years and only ever against fellow lesser sides. International football is different from club football, we accept that in lots of other ways so perhaps we should just accept that one facet of international football is a big disparity between the best sides and the lesser side. And is it that different actually? Norwich are allowed to play in the Prem every other year after all.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 09:25 - Nov 16 with 1431 viewshatch

ITV comments on San Marino on 08:47 - Nov 16 by Herbivore

The idea of pre-qualifying is good in principle but there's a few issues with it. Firstly, where do you fit it in the current international calendar? There's not much room to squeeze it in. Secondly, what then happens to the sides who don't qualify? They'll be sat around for 2 years with no matches and that really isn't going to help them to develop at all. Finally, who gets included in the minnows group? There's quite a lot of sides that have virtually zero chance of qualifying for major tournament and who get walloped consistently by the bigger nations, looking through qualifying currently there's up to a dozen sides you could make a case don't warrant going straight into qualifying.

Not dismissing the idea of pre-qualifying entirely but I'm not sure it would serve the apparently intended purpose of helping the lesser sides as most of them would end up only playing every 2 years and only ever against fellow lesser sides. International football is different from club football, we accept that in lots of other ways so perhaps we should just accept that one facet of international football is a big disparity between the best sides and the lesser side. And is it that different actually? Norwich are allowed to play in the Prem every other year after all.


Chuck them in leagues with international development squads like we get forced to play U21s. Most countries would still be too strong for them but at least both sides get a little more out of it.
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ITV comments on San Marino on 09:40 - Nov 16 with 1377 viewsC_HealyIsAPleasure

ITV comments on San Marino on 08:12 - Nov 16 by Chrisd

I can’t agree. I really can’t see the benefit of playing an international side and spanking them 10-0, how is that going to help San Marino’s development? The only way they will improve is playing sides of a similar standard and winning games consistently before progressing to that next level. That’s where the Nations Cup is so helpful for countries like San Marino as it matches them against countries of a similar standard or ranking. The game last night was utterly pointless for England too, what did we get out from that contest? Even blooding some of the youngsters like Smith Rowe, the match has no standing or impact, it simply was no benefit for either country IMO.


Interesting that you mention Smith-Rowe there, as I’d imagine he certainly wouldn’t say the game had no standing or impact

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ITV comments on San Marino on 09:41 - Nov 16 with 1374 viewsC_HealyIsAPleasure

ITV comments on San Marino on 08:32 - Nov 16 by GlasgowBlue

They should be in a minnows qualifying group. Along with the likes of Andorra, Luxembourg and Scotland.


Better include Ireland too if Luxembourg are in there, seeing as they beat them in March and were level in qualifying up until Sunday

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ITV comments on San Marino on 09:47 - Nov 16 with 1371 viewsHerbivore

ITV comments on San Marino on 09:25 - Nov 16 by hatch

Chuck them in leagues with international development squads like we get forced to play U21s. Most countries would still be too strong for them but at least both sides get a little more out of it.


But then what if they actually win their group, do they then get to play in the u21 Euro finals? What if one of the Gibraltar CBs snaps a promising 18 year old in half and they're out for a year? I know we're being punished for being sh!t by playing kids teams, but we have the option of sticking out our own kids and frequently do so.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:06 - Nov 16 with 1317 viewsC_HealyIsAPleasure

ITV comments on San Marino on 08:01 - Nov 16 by Jon_456

I wasnt watching entirely but wasn't their point more that there should be some form of pre-qualifiers before entering the qualifiers, to save them getting battered every game?

Surely that would be better for them where they face teams with at least a slim chance of getting something from the game. As opposed to their objective being to keep the score in single figures.


15 years ago most people would have included Iceland in their list of minnows, they won only one game in qualifying (against Malta) and conceded more goals than all but 5 nations. Within 10 years they knocked England out of the Euros, so seems their development wasn’t stunted at all

EDIT: and 3 of those that conceded more were in larger groups so played 2 extra games
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 10:11]

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:21 - Nov 16 with 1281 viewsHerbivore

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:06 - Nov 16 by C_HealyIsAPleasure

15 years ago most people would have included Iceland in their list of minnows, they won only one game in qualifying (against Malta) and conceded more goals than all but 5 nations. Within 10 years they knocked England out of the Euros, so seems their development wasn’t stunted at all

EDIT: and 3 of those that conceded more were in larger groups so played 2 extra games
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 10:11]


Indeed. On the flip side, Bulgaria were World Cup semi finalists in the 90s and now there's an argument that they should be in the minnows league, they're getting spanked regularly. Fortunes of national sides tend to fluctuate.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:27 - Nov 16 with 1254 viewsStirlingArcher

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:06 - Nov 16 by C_HealyIsAPleasure

15 years ago most people would have included Iceland in their list of minnows, they won only one game in qualifying (against Malta) and conceded more goals than all but 5 nations. Within 10 years they knocked England out of the Euros, so seems their development wasn’t stunted at all

EDIT: and 3 of those that conceded more were in larger groups so played 2 extra games
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 10:11]


Iceland have a full team of professional players I believe by now.
San Marino famously were part time players.

maybe there could be a league for the non full time countries? then have one or two come through that way
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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:28 - Nov 16 with 1250 viewsitfcjoe

ITV comments on San Marino on 08:47 - Nov 16 by Herbivore

The idea of pre-qualifying is good in principle but there's a few issues with it. Firstly, where do you fit it in the current international calendar? There's not much room to squeeze it in. Secondly, what then happens to the sides who don't qualify? They'll be sat around for 2 years with no matches and that really isn't going to help them to develop at all. Finally, who gets included in the minnows group? There's quite a lot of sides that have virtually zero chance of qualifying for major tournament and who get walloped consistently by the bigger nations, looking through qualifying currently there's up to a dozen sides you could make a case don't warrant going straight into qualifying.

Not dismissing the idea of pre-qualifying entirely but I'm not sure it would serve the apparently intended purpose of helping the lesser sides as most of them would end up only playing every 2 years and only ever against fellow lesser sides. International football is different from club football, we accept that in lots of other ways so perhaps we should just accept that one facet of international football is a big disparity between the best sides and the lesser side. And is it that different actually? Norwich are allowed to play in the Prem every other year after all.


Surely if they don't get out of their pre quaklifying group they go back into effectively a nations league compeition to improve seedings etc for the next time round?

If we have 13 slots available then you really only want something like the best 24/26 in the group stages playing for them and it to be a smaller competition to get into this section of the draw.

In Africa as an e.g. the top 26 ranked teams have a bye whereas the bottom 26 teams have to play off against each other just to weed out the bottom teams and you end up with 10 groups of 4.

If these teams were getting any better then it woudn't be an issue, but they simply aren't ever going to be competitive. The current way isn't making them better.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:29 - Nov 16 with 1243 viewsChrisd

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:21 - Nov 16 by Herbivore

Indeed. On the flip side, Bulgaria were World Cup semi finalists in the 90s and now there's an argument that they should be in the minnows league, they're getting spanked regularly. Fortunes of national sides tend to fluctuate.


Bulgaria aren't a minnow, they just haven't got the best pool of players at the moment, San Marino's World Cup qualifying record since the 1994 qualifiers: played 64, Won 0, Drawn 2 and lost 64.......that's a minnow.
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 10:47]

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:34 - Nov 16 with 1211 viewsClapham_Junction

ITV comments on San Marino on 08:12 - Nov 16 by Chrisd

I can’t agree. I really can’t see the benefit of playing an international side and spanking them 10-0, how is that going to help San Marino’s development? The only way they will improve is playing sides of a similar standard and winning games consistently before progressing to that next level. That’s where the Nations Cup is so helpful for countries like San Marino as it matches them against countries of a similar standard or ranking. The game last night was utterly pointless for England too, what did we get out from that contest? Even blooding some of the youngsters like Smith Rowe, the match has no standing or impact, it simply was no benefit for either country IMO.


Personally I think the opposite; they won't improve if they're only playing other minnows.

Countries like the Faroes have massively improved since entering the qualifiers and regularly give larger countries a run for their money (the Faroes beat Greece home and away in a recent qualifying campaign), even if they still lose most games.

I'd hate to see UEFA go down the route of other confederations where the smaller countries do pre-qualifying and most never make it through to play the bigger teams.
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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:39 - Nov 16 with 1162 viewsC_HealyIsAPleasure

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:29 - Nov 16 by Chrisd

Bulgaria aren't a minnow, they just haven't got the best pool of players at the moment, San Marino's World Cup qualifying record since the 1994 qualifiers: played 64, Won 0, Drawn 2 and lost 64.......that's a minnow.
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 10:47]


So basically you want to kick out 2 or 3 countries?

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:47 - Nov 16 with 1143 viewsChrisd

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:34 - Nov 16 by Clapham_Junction

Personally I think the opposite; they won't improve if they're only playing other minnows.

Countries like the Faroes have massively improved since entering the qualifiers and regularly give larger countries a run for their money (the Faroes beat Greece home and away in a recent qualifying campaign), even if they still lose most games.

I'd hate to see UEFA go down the route of other confederations where the smaller countries do pre-qualifying and most never make it through to play the bigger teams.


I certainly understand that side of the argument, however they have gone over 25 years with next to no improvement in qualifying. It must be quite soul destroying putting on that San Marino shirt and you're up against England, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium or France and you know that you in for 90 minutes+ of a good hiding.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:47 - Nov 16 with 1140 viewsitfcjoe

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:34 - Nov 16 by Clapham_Junction

Personally I think the opposite; they won't improve if they're only playing other minnows.

Countries like the Faroes have massively improved since entering the qualifiers and regularly give larger countries a run for their money (the Faroes beat Greece home and away in a recent qualifying campaign), even if they still lose most games.

I'd hate to see UEFA go down the route of other confederations where the smaller countries do pre-qualifying and most never make it through to play the bigger teams.


I disagree with the first bit - surely playing teams on a similar level is better than playing teams where there is a total mismatch that the other team can basically score at will and all you do is stick 11 men behind the ball. What is that helping with?

The minnows who have improved have done so by investment in the grassroots, that's the only way teams with smaller talent pools can get better.

The fact that San Marino still have part time players 30 years after coming into UEFA competition would make you think that they simply aren't doing that at all, especially when all their players have eligibility for the Italian leagues with no hoops to jump through.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:53 - Nov 16 with 1109 viewsHerbivore

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:29 - Nov 16 by Chrisd

Bulgaria aren't a minnow, they just haven't got the best pool of players at the moment, San Marino's World Cup qualifying record since the 1994 qualifiers: played 64, Won 0, Drawn 2 and lost 64.......that's a minnow.
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 10:47]


So how do you intend to determine who goes into pre-qualifying if not on recent results? Or do you just pick the teams you consider minnows and boot them into pre-qualifying? The current system isn't perfect but I don't see anyone proposing anything that would be better.

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ITV comments on San Marino on 10:58 - Nov 16 with 1063 viewsVaughan8

I can see both arguments.

Why shouldn't they be in it. they are a european country and they must get a lot more money from playing these big teams? As said above, its players playing these big names which they wouldn't usually get to play.

However part of me thinks it would be better for these "lowly" countries to have a pre-qualifier (maybe in the summer) and top X go into the actual qualifiers and would cut group games by at least 2.
Wouldn't San Marino and the like benefit from playing teams of a similar standard? Might score a few goals, or keep some clean sheets and would that improve them? Losing 10-0 isn't helping anyone.

I'm guessing the latter can't be done which is why it hasn't.
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ITV comments on San Marino on 11:05 - Nov 16 with 1032 viewsClapham_Junction

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:47 - Nov 16 by itfcjoe

I disagree with the first bit - surely playing teams on a similar level is better than playing teams where there is a total mismatch that the other team can basically score at will and all you do is stick 11 men behind the ball. What is that helping with?

The minnows who have improved have done so by investment in the grassroots, that's the only way teams with smaller talent pools can get better.

The fact that San Marino still have part time players 30 years after coming into UEFA competition would make you think that they simply aren't doing that at all, especially when all their players have eligibility for the Italian leagues with no hoops to jump through.


Bar one or two, San Marino players will probably always be mostly part-time given the size of the country. I personally don't see the issue with this.

Regarding the first point, the number of real minnows that play like that (11 men behind the ball) is pretty small – Andorra and San Marino from recent memory, plus maybe Gibraltar, Liechtenstein and Malta (been a while since I've seen any of them play), so I can't really see much benefit from just kicking such a small number of teams out of the main qualifiers.
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ITV comments on San Marino on 11:08 - Nov 16 with 1023 viewsChrisd

ITV comments on San Marino on 10:53 - Nov 16 by Herbivore

So how do you intend to determine who goes into pre-qualifying if not on recent results? Or do you just pick the teams you consider minnows and boot them into pre-qualifying? The current system isn't perfect but I don't see anyone proposing anything that would be better.


It seems any country who have a recent poor record is classified as a minnow by you ie. Bulgaria, but I'm looking historically and over a long period of time. These smaller nations continue to struggle even to win a game in qualifying this really isn't helping their development and score-lines like last certainly don't help either. I don't know what the answer is really, but I do like the format of the Nations League and wonder if that could be expanded in some way?
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 11:09]

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ITV comments on San Marino on 11:18 - Nov 16 with 981 viewsHerbivore

ITV comments on San Marino on 11:08 - Nov 16 by Chrisd

It seems any country who have a recent poor record is classified as a minnow by you ie. Bulgaria, but I'm looking historically and over a long period of time. These smaller nations continue to struggle even to win a game in qualifying this really isn't helping their development and score-lines like last certainly don't help either. I don't know what the answer is really, but I do like the format of the Nations League and wonder if that could be expanded in some way?
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 11:09]


If you're not using recent results then it becomes somewhat arbitrary, doesn't it? For example, Glassers mentioned Luxembourg as a minnow but they are doing pretty well in qualifying currently. Would it be fair to them to consider them minnows because historically they've struggled whilst allowing worse teams to go straight through to qualifying because they are considered 'bigger'?

Personally I think the current system is probably the least bad option. It's not ideal but the logistics of having two tiers of qualifying look like a nightmare and I'm not sure it'd improve the situation of the lesser sides much at all. It might take a radical rethink of how qualifying works to accommodate a different system and is it really worth it to solve what isn't exactly a massive problem?
[Post edited 16 Nov 2021 11:20]

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ITV comments on San Marino on 11:23 - Nov 16 with 943 viewsitfcjoe

ITV comments on San Marino on 11:05 - Nov 16 by Clapham_Junction

Bar one or two, San Marino players will probably always be mostly part-time given the size of the country. I personally don't see the issue with this.

Regarding the first point, the number of real minnows that play like that (11 men behind the ball) is pretty small – Andorra and San Marino from recent memory, plus maybe Gibraltar, Liechtenstein and Malta (been a while since I've seen any of them play), so I can't really see much benefit from just kicking such a small number of teams out of the main qualifiers.


I just don't see any particular issue with only having the best of the teams in the main qualifying group, adding a level of competiton for the worse teams to qualify may help them improve when there is a big carrot at the end if they can beat someone half decent.

UEFA has to find a way of getting 55 countries down to 13 qualifiers - the way it is done is so convuluted with the play offs at the end, with Nations League feeding into it etc is just rubbish.

The Nations League is a much better competition, and has seen incredible scenes even in the Pot D matches where you see Gibraltar win their first ever games, and Malta and the Faroes battle it out for promotion. Football should be a meritocracy in this way.

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