SP La Fiorita coach Alberto Manca had two dreams. The first became reality when he led his side to the Sammarinese title last month; now he hopes to fulfil the second at the expense of FC Levadia Tallinn in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round.
"I have always said that I had two objectives in my career as a coach," Manca told UEFA.com ahead of the games against the Estonian champions on 1 and 8 July. "I wanted to win the league title in San Marino and I did it. My next dream is to lead my side to a historic qualification for the second round of the UEFA Champions League. I have done 50% of my job, and hopefully the second part will not be a dream forever."
After leading La Fiorita to their first title in 24 years, Manca is fully aware that beating Levadia will be very difficult. "We were not lucky with the draw," he said. "Levadia were the team with the best UEFA coefficient among those we could have drawn. I have watched videos and they are very strong. They are all professional players and they are their domestic league is already up and running so they are in good form.
"It's not a secret that they are stronger than us, but there are big surprises in football from time to time, "he added. "We will try to defend well, to close down all the spaces. It would be great to follow the examples of Tre Fiori and Tre Penne, who have earned good results in Europe in the past." SP Tre Penne became the first club from San Marino to triumph in Europe last term when they defeated Armenian side FC Shirak 1-0 in their home fixture, bowing out 3-1 on aggregate.
Among those ready to make their UEFA Champions League debut is San Marino captain Andy Selva, his nation's all-time top scorer with eight international goals. "I look forward to this experience with great enthusiasm," the 38-year-old striker told UEFA.com. "It will be a very exciting tie for us and we hope to do well. Scoring a goal in this competition would be something special. I can obviously only do it with the support of my team-mates and I'm sure I will have that."
Selva was a key part of the La Fiorita team who won the league by defeating SS Folgore/Falciano 2-0 in the final round of fixtures. "We are proud to have written an important page in the club history by winning the title," the former Hellas Verona FC man continued. "We dream of writing another important chapter now, even if we know it is going to be difficult."