Saturday, 16 July 2011

Former Red joins Jol's Revolution

A Former Liverpool player has become Fulham’s second signing of the close season. New manager Martin Jol followed up his acquisition of Hungarian goalkeeper Csaba Somogyi with the impressive capture of Norwegian left back John Arne Riise from Italian side Roma, for an undisclosed fee.

The 30-year-old international, capped 96 times by his country, played for Liverpool for 7 years between 2001 and 2008, making over 200 appearances for the Club. He also became renowned for his thunderous left foot and scored some memorable goals, generally from free kicks, during his first spell in England. He joins his younger brother Bjorn Helge Riise, who has been at Craven Cottage since 2009.

Fulham have already been in competitive action this season, opening their Europa League campaign against NSÍ Runavík of the Faroe Islands - a country that has been brought into the forefront of football news for a bizarre reason in the past week. A student from the Faroe Islands, Jakup Emil Hansen, contacted his country’s governing body to inform them that he had calculated that the national side should actually be ranked higher by FIFA than they actually were.

And it would seem that Hansen was indeed correct, as the Faroe’s FA then contacted FIFA with the information, who subsequently changed their rankings, moving the Faroe Islands above Wales - although both sides still share 114th spot.

But who IS this tiny country that has now overtaken one of Britain’s major footballing nations?  Well, the Faroe Islands are located in the North Sea, between Scotland and Iceland, and has a population of just 50,000 people. Although the country has been independent since 1948, it has only been a member of FIFA since 1988, and is widely known as one of the ‘minnows‘ of the international game.  From 119 international matches, the Faroes have lost an incredible 91 times, conceding 318 goals in the process.  They have totalled a mere 16 wins as a nation, and generally these rare victories have been against fellow minnows such as Luxembourg, Liechtenstein or Malta.

However, the Faroe Islands have now managed two very credible draws against Scotland, both in competitive matches.  In 1999 they scored an injury time equaliser to earn a shock 1-1 draw against Scotland, and they almost provided what would surely have been regarded as their biggest scalp three years later. In 2002 they lead 2-0 at home to the Scots in a Euro qualifying match, and were unfortunate to come away with only a single point after the Tartan Army battled back to draw the match 2-2.

The Faroe Islands currently sit bottom of their Euro 2012 qualifying group, which contains former World Cup winners Italy.

Laurie Dunsire

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