With a population of just 1.3 million, Estonia is one of
Europe's smaller nations, but the Baltic state has shown often
enough that their national team is not to be underestimated. The
latest visitors to leave Tallinn with a bloody nose were Canada,
defeated 2-0 in the Estonian capital at the end of March.
The task facing head coach Tarmo Ruutli is to maximise the potential of his strictly limited playing resources. One of the chief assets available to the coach since he took the reins last year is 30-year-old striker Andres Oper, on the books at Dutch top flight outfit Roda Kerkrade and Estonia's all-time top scorer with 33 goals in 108 internationals.
The burly hitman duly contributed a goal to his country's most recent competitive victory, a 2-0 away win against Andorra in mid-November last year, although the UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying success was ultimately to no avail as the Estonians finished second from bottom of their group behind FYR Macedonia, Israel, England and EURO contenders Russia and Croatia. Aside from two wins against Andorra, Estonia's only other point came from a 1-1 away draw with FYR Macedonia.
That was a meagre return compared to the 17 points amassed by the men from the Baltic in qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™, where the highlights of a creditable group campaign against Portugal, Slovakia, Russia, Latvia, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg were a 2-2 away draw and 2-1 home win against neighbouring Latvia, and a home draw with the Russians.
Big guns await
Estonia, yet to qualify for the finals of a major tournament, certainly face a stern test in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ after landing in Group 5 with Spain, Turkey, Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina and Armenia. However, if the side captained by keeper Mart Poom of English club Watford can recapture the form they showed in qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a surprise or two may yet be in store.
Apart from the 2-0 victory against Canada, recent results include a defeat by the same score in Poland and a respectable scoreless draw away to Uzbekistan. That result, against the current surprise package in Asian qualifying for the 2010 finals, was a real morale-booster for the Eastern Europeans ahead of their own qualifying efforts.
Estonia have lined up a raft of friendlies in late May and early June this year. Georgia visit Tallinn on 27 May, before a double-header against Latvia and Lithuania in Riga on 30 and 31 May. Finally, the Faroe Islands are the visitors to Tallinn in early June.
The rush of matches some three weeks from now provides a fine opportunity for the Estonians to add to their current total of 267 ranking points, as 115th place in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking could yet prove a mere transit point on a steady upward journey.
Calculation of points for a single match
P = M x I x T x C
M: points for Match result
Teams gain 3 points for a victory, 1 point for a draw and 0 points for a defeat. In a penalty shoot-out, the winning team gains 2 points and the losing team gains 1 point.
I: Importance of match
Friendly match (including small competitions): I = 1.0
FIFA World Cup™ qualifier or confederation-level qualifier: I = 2.5
Confederation-level final competition or FIFA Confederations Cup: I = 3.0
FIFA World Cup™ final competition: I = 4.0
T: strength of opposing Team
The strength of the opponents is based on the formula: 200 – the ranking position of the opponents.As an exception to this formula, the team at the top of the ranking is always assigned the value 200 and the teams ranked 150th and below are assigned a minimum value of 50. The ranking position is taken from the opponents’ ranking in the most recently published FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking.
C: strength of Confederation
When calculating matches between teams from different confederations, the mean value of the confederations to which the two competing teams belong is used. The strength of a confederation is calculated on the basis of the number of victories by that confederation at the last three FIFA World Cup™ competitions (see following page). Their values are as follows:
|Points Last Month|
|LIE - EST||0:3||3||1||50||1||150|
|EST - AZE||2:1||3||1||112||1||336|
|Points outside Ranking calculation|
|EST - ALB||0:0||1||1||103||1||103|