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England v Andorra World Cup qualifier – Ildefons Lima says small national teams play a ‘football that is more pure’

England v Andorra World Cup qualifier - Ildefons Lima says small national teams play a 'football that is more pure'

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As Andorra prepare to face England in the World Cup qualifiers at Wembley on Sunday, captain Ildefons Lima said that smaller national teams play a “football that’s more pure.”

Lima, who has over 130 caps for Andorra, hit out with comment in response to Gary Lineker who tweeted in March when England hammered San Marino 5-0: “Surely we’ve reached the stage where the lowest ranked nations should play amongst themselves to qualify for the right to play at this level. It’s become absurd.”

The Andorra international said in an interview with Goal: “If Lineker was born in Andorra, he could not play against big teams? Why? It’s a country like England is a country.

“It’s not a problem for a big team to play once a year against us. It’s like a pre-season game that you play sometimes. It’s not a problem for them… It’s good for football that there’s this type of football. It’s not the football of money, the number of Instagram followers you have, or anything like that. It’s a football that’s more pure. The England game is a big game, but for us, the game against San Marino is more important. It’s a chance for us to win a game.”

In 2017 Andorra caused a major upset when they beat Hungary 1-0 in the 2018 World Cup qualifying stages. In March, the latest round of World Cup qualifying, Lineker was proved wrong as Luxembourg went on to beat Ireland, and North Macedonia fought Germany to a 2-1 win. Ireland skipper Seamus Coleman labelled the defeat “embarrassing”.

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In the same interview, looking towards Sunday’s game, Lima, 41, admits a loss is likely: “The game against England will be a party for us. We are lucky to play in a stadium like Wembley against the England national team with an amazing atmosphere against these big players. It’s very good because small teams need to play competitive games.

“When you play against England, the normal result is that you lose, but when you play against San Marino or other small teams that are better than you, you can take points and become more competitive. Then when you play against big teams, they will even have to play better to beat you.”

He adds: “Twenty-five years ago, teams would play against Iceland expecting to win. Now they play against Iceland and they’re a very good team. Big teams have to play against small teams to know they are big. It’s not a big deal for big teams to play against national teams like us once a year because it’s good for football and the spirit of the game.”

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