The new Sammarinese season kicked off at the weekend with SP Tre Fiori coach Floriano Sperindio telling uefa.com "it will be tough" to take defend the title with standards improving year on year.
It took a penalty shoot-out for Tre Fiori to deny AC Juvenes/Dogana last season following a 0-0 draw in the play-off decider, and Sperindio does not expect things to be any easier this time around. "A lot of teams have signed good players from outside San Marino this summer," he told uefa.com. "I think the general standard of the league has improved, especially considering how teams like San Giovanni, Fiorentino and Pennarossa moved in the transfer market."
First things first
With that in mind Tre Fiori are making no promises this time around with Sperindio setting his side the initial task of finishing in the top three in their section to earn a place in the six-team end-of-season play-offs. "You can never predict what will happen in the play-offs at the beginning of the season," he explained. "Tre Fiori, Murata, Juvenes/Dogana and Virtus probably have a better chance to win the title than the rest but I would not rule out Pennarossa, who probably improved the most in the summer. Possible underdogs are Folgore, Cosmos and La Fiorita."
With the 2010/11 season likely to see a second Sammarinese side enter the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds alongside the winners of the Coppa Titanio – San Marino's national cup – the rewards for success will be greater than ever. "It's definitely extra motivation for all of us," Sperindio said. "We will work harder than usual even if the difference in terms of mentality and physical preparation is still huge with other leagues."
'Boost for everyone'
Juvenes/Dogana coach Alberto Manca agreed "Having another team from San Marino in Europe is a great boost for everyone," he told uefa.com. Juvenes/Dogana have played four finals in the last two years – two in the league and two in the Coppa Titano – and would like more this season. "We want to stay at the top even if we know it will be more difficult this term with teams like San Giovanni and Fiorentino who have became more competitive and other strong sides like Pennarossa and Virtus in competition," he said. "I think it will be very difficult this year".
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