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Amateurs ready for Rijeka

Published: Thursday 10 March 2005, 10.56CET
Teams from Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Romania will play in the Group 2 mini-tournament.
Published: Thursday 10 March 2005, 10.56CET

Amateurs ready for Rijeka

Teams from Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Romania will play in the Group 2 mini-tournament.

Teams from Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Romania will join hosts Rijeka Amateur in UEFA Regions' Cup Group 2.

Amateur titans
Host team Rijeka Amateur will be favourites to take the crown and win a place in the finals of UEFA's blue-riband event for amateur teams, which will be held in Malopolska. Poland, between 3 and 9 July this year, but they can expect some stiff competition.

Exhaustive search
Rijeka coach Marijan Brncic and his assistants Sergio Scoria and Robert Rupcic conducted an exhaustive search to come up with their 18-man squad for the finals and they are all eager to get involved. "Football competitions like this one are most welcome in Croatia," said local tournament director Boris Kajfes.

Croatian excellence
"Most of the football players in Croatia are amateurs so this UEFA project is a brilliant move," added Kajfes. Now those will have the opportunity to show their quality outside of their region. Reaching the finals would be great for increasing popularity of amateur football in Croatia."

Romanian contenders
Romanian contenders Dacia Amateur earned their place in the intermediary round mini-tournament after finishing as the best runners-up in the two preliminary round mini-tournaments with two wins in three games in Slovakia last September.

Changed squad
Only four of the 18 players who competed in that tournament will be travelling to Croatia, however, with the remainder having found new jobs abroad or having lost their amateur status after winning promotion to Romania's third division with their clubs.

Rebuilt side
Head coach Dan Friteanu, who is also assistant coach of the Romanian Under-21 team, has had to rebuild his side in a hurry calling on players from nine different clubs. Since 5 March, the team have braved snowy pitches to train together. "It's impossible to say what we'll do in Croatia," Friteanu told "But whenever you go to a competition, you must aim to win."

Team cohesion
Liechtenstein Amateur will have no problems in terms of team cohesion with all of their players coming from local side FC Schaan, who play in the amateur third division in Switzerland. Coach Roland Jäger was certainly looking forward to the tournament.

Schaan power
"All the players have been very positive about this competition, although we have a squad of only 15," said Jäger. Several players of his squad are not eligible, due to age restrictions and the fact that one, Herbert Bicker, is a former Liechtenstein international.

Poland calling
"To get to the finals in Poland in June would of course be a dream come true, but we will still do our best to represent our country in the best possible light," he added. "We are ambitious and we want to win each game, but we are also realistic."

Swiss contenders
Liechtenstein will face stern competition in the form of Nordwestschweiz, a team composed of players from the Swiss fourth division side SV Muttenz who have won 13 of their 14 league games this season and drawn the other one.

Additional motivation
Understandably, coach Gerhard Portmann believes his side can do well. "We always want to win and want to qualify for the final tournament," he said. "Representing Switzerland is an additional motivation, but we don't know how strong our opponents will be."

Opening games
They will find that out soon enough as they face Dacia in their opening game on Monday while Liechtenstein provide the first challenge for Rijeka. The four teams will all play each other once in the course of the week, with the top side in the group reaching the finals.

Last updated: 31/01/12 8.17CET

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