F91 Dudelange are hoping the arrival of former France striker Tony Vairelles will boost their chances of winning a fifth straight league title in Luxembourg, although the competition looks particularly strong this year.
Dudelange underlined their credentials with a 4-0 win against traditional giants AS Jeunesse Esch – winners of a record 27 league titles – in their opening game. "I didn't expect to win by such a significant margin," admitted French coach Michel Leflochmoan, who is in his fourth season in charge. Leflochmoan is not expecting an easy ride, however, warning: "A lot of the other teams have strengthened their squads considerably and the fight for the title will be exciting until the very end."
Those words appeared to have carried some substance after Dudelange dropped points in the second game, drawing 1-1 at FC RM Hamm Benfica. They returned to winning ways against US Rumelange, Vairelles scoring the decisive goal in a 3-2 triumph. The signing of the former RC Lens striker from Tours FC represents quite a coup for the seven-time champions, although even with the wily 36-year-old leading their line they find themselves third after three games.
FC Racing Union Luxemburg look like the biggest threat Dudelange's supremacy. Runners-up last season, albeit 21 points adrift, Racing Union won widespread praise for their attractive style and have reinforced their squad intelligently. A stunning 9-0 success in their opening match against FC Avenir Beggen preceded two more victories, leaving them top of the table above FC Differdange 03 on goal difference. Differdange's one hundred per cent start has been more unexpected, although the arrival of former Luxembourg Under-21 coach Roland Schaack, who took charge in the summer, is seen as a shrewd appointment.
Meanwhile, CS Grevenmacher coach Claude Osweiler has laid down a firm goal after steering his side to cup success last season. "We want to qualify for Europe again," declared Osweiler, whsoe team bowed out of this season's UEFA Cup in the first qualifying round with an 8-3 aggregate defeat by FH Hafnarfjördur. Sixth last term, Grevenmacher are fifth after three matches this time round. One club with more modest ambitions are newly-promoted FC Sporting Steinfort, who will focus purely on keeping their top-flight status. "We'll only play eight teams who are of a similar level to us," commented their coach Waldemar Korycki, who has nevertheless been buoyed by Steinfort's two victories in their first three matches.
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