Belfast Telegraph

San Marino legend Selva ruled out of Linfield duels

 

By John Flack

La Fiorita's chances of upstaging Linfield and landing a glamour Champions League second-round qualifying tie with Brendan Rodgers' Celtic have been dealt a huge blow.

San Marino footballing legend Andy Selva has been ruled out of the two-legged tussle with the Blues with an Achilles injury which could also see him sit out the home World Cup qualifying tie with Northern Ireland on September 1.

Selva is his country's all-time leading scorer, like Linfield manager David Healy, with eight goals in 73 international appearances to date and last season he helped La Fiorita to the Sammarinese title with six in 15 games.

The 41-year-old's achievement can be put into perspective by the fact that San Marino have scored only 13 times when he has been in the line-up.

Losing their captain and leading scorer is obviously a setback for La Fiorita. They have yet to win a tie in Europe in five previous attempts as they bid to break their duck against Linfield, with the first leg scheduled for Windsor Park on Wednesday night.

However, La Fiorita manager Nicola Berardi has allowed himself to dream. The 47-year-old said: "I love my club, it's been my club all my life. I played for La Fiorita and my father was a founder member in 1967.

"We are very much a family club and although my players are not professionals, they are very serious about the game.

"Playing in Europe always excites us but we know that Linfield are stronger than us but we will try to do the best we can.

"We have also thought about the prospect of playing Celtic and that would be incredible and very exciting for us all.

"First, though, we must concentrate on Linfield. We know our limits, but in football nothing is impossible."

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