Jumping the gun in football is never a good exercise. Especially when you have first to take on an over 2000km trip and clash twice with the current tableleader of the Kazakhstan Premium League (FK Aktobe).
However, the chance for another deep run in Europe is at hand. In next round, Kalju would face the winner of La Fiorita (SMR, beaten 8-0 on aggregate by Levadia last season) vs. Vaduz (LIE). A tasty chance to secure the third qualifying round which means both a chance to catch the play-offs train and a lot of UEFA money into the club’s counters.
Another stimulating factor comes from La Fiorita’s squad (if they were to beat Vaduz).
The San Marino club has announced two star signing: Adrian Ricchiuti and Damiano Tommasi.
For those not familiar with Italian football, Damiano Tommasi is the current president of the AssoCalciatori, the Italian footballers trade union. He has actually retired from professional football (he is 41) and plays in lower leagues with an amateur club. ‘I don’t have time for trainings, I just go for the games,’ explains Damiano, who won a ‘scudetto’ (Italian title –edit) with AS Roma in 2001 under Fabio Capello.
How did he decide to join La Fiorita and help them in the Europa League? ‘It was Andy Selva,’ reveals the former Hellas Verona’s defending midfielder quoting the name of the legendary San Marino player who missed the game in Tallinn for political reasons. ‘I knew Andy since Hellas Verona times, now he’s the San Marino football players trade union representative. We were just chatting about sport politics and then he suddenly asked me to join La Fiorita and help them in the European competition.’ After thinking about it for a bit, Damiano accepted and assured he will return to his old role in the midfield. ‘I hope I won’t be a burden for the team!’ jokes the curly-haired Verona-born former Italian Champion.
Ricchiuti’s career doesn’t count any Italian title, but the 36-year-old Argentine trequartista born in Lanus has been playing Serie A football in Sicily (Catania) and spent his career mostly among Serie B and Lega Pro sides.
His last club was AC Rimini.
His name became notorius to any Juventus fan as he was the first footballer to score a goal in Serie B against Juventus when the Italian giants were relegated in 2006 for the Calciopoli scandal that overwhelmed the club’s management.