Coach Sébastien Allieri said it was "incredibly important" for Racing FC Union Luxembourg to get some positive results when the season resumes on 1 March after falling well short of their targets for the autumn campaign.
Out of the running
Luxembourg's top clubs emerge from the winter break to play a round of cup fixtures on 21 February, with the league's eleven-week hibernation ending on 1 March. F91 Dudelange are only seven points clear of second-placed FC Differdange 03 – a modest margin for Michel Leflochmoan's side – but Racing are seventh in the table, and well out of the running.
The side formed in 2005 with the merger of CA Spora Luxembourg, FC Union Luxembourg and CS Alliance 01 were second at this stage last season. They finished as runners-up to earn a place in the UEFA Cup first qualifying round where they lost 10-1 on aggregate to Kalmar FF. Nonetheless, with their attractive style of football, they were billed as Dudelange's main 2008/09 rivals.
However, while Racing thrashed FC Avenir Beggen 9-0 in their opening league fixture, the unexpected departure of coach Alvaro Cruz back in September knocked the club off balance. Former youth coach Allieri is now hoping for a flying start to the spring, saying: "It is incredibly important for us psychologically to get some positive results."
Racing have already given the 30-year-old their backing, handing him a contract until the end of the 2009/10 season. It is now hoped that with an influx of players from the youth ranks, the club can mount an assault for a European place before the end of the campaign, though any thoughts of the title have long since gone out the window.
Meanwhile, the January transfer window brought two interesting moves. First, two-times capped Luxembourg striker Stefano Bensi left US Rumelange for Belgian second division side KMSK Deinze, while international team-mate Stéphane Gillet departed AS Jeunesse Esch for promoted FC Sporting Steinfort, citing irreconcilable differences. The 31-year-old goalkeeper is now gearing up for a relegation battle, with his side 13th in the 14-team table.
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