With around 28,000 inhabitants, San Marino, an enclave in
northern Italy, is one of the smallest nations to take part in the
European Zone of qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South
The mini-state's national team have contested over 80 international matches since becoming a FIFA member in 1988 but have yet to taste victory. Indeed, anything other than defeat in an international match is welcomed as a resounding success.
What minor successes the San Marinese have enjoyed have come during FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The team earned a point against Turkey in March 1993 in San Marino's largest town, Serravalle, during qualifying for USA 1994. And in April 2001, during the qualifiers for Korea/Japan 2002, they celebrated their first away point after a 1-1 draw with Latvia, Nicola Albani scoring the historic goal that day.
During qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, San Marino lost all ten of their games, conceding 40 goals while scoring just two. Apart from Luxemburg they were the only team not to earn a single point in the European Zone.
Their most recent success came in a friendly in Liechtenstein, when goals from Bryan Gasperoni and Nicola Ciacci secured a 2-2 draw. However, during the qualifying stages of UEFA EURO 2008, they again lost all their games.
The South Africa 2010 preliminaries will provide another opportunity for this modest side to seek out their first victory. "It's what we've always dreamed of since joining FIFA and UEFA in 1988," said coach Giampaolo Mazza.