Ten things you need to know about Moldova
Minnows Moldova, ranked 141st in the FIFA rankings, are first up in qualifying for England as the Three Lions look to book a safe passage to World Cup 2014.
Unsurprisingly, Roy Hodgson’s men are expected to be victorious in Chisinau – with odds of 2/7 showing the massive gulf in class between the two teams – but there’s an air of mystery about Friday’s opponents.
In readiness for the game at Zimbru Stadium, here are 10 things you may not know about the former Soviet republic and the Moldova national side:
1. Tranta, a form of wrestling, is Moldova’s national sport.
2. Moldova’s all-time leading goalscorer is former Hapoel Tel Aviv striker Serghei Clescenco, who netted 11 times in 69
3. The highest Moldova have ever been in the FIFA rankings is 37th in 2008. Four years later, the likes of Suriname, Niger
and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are all above Moldova in the rankings.
4. The national food of Moldova is mamaliga, a form of porridge that’s also popular in neighbouring Romania.
5. The population of Chisinau, Moldova’s capital city, is just under 800,000, making it similar in size to Leeds.
6. Moldova’s last goal in a competitive fixture came during a 4-0 win over fellow minnows San Marino in October 2011. They
are 12/1 to restrict England to a goalless draw on Friday.
7. Between 2003 and 2005, the average alcohol consumption per person in Moldova was 18.2 litres, the highest in the world at that time.
8. The Zimbru Stadium has a capacity of 10,500 and England fans making the trip will be charged just £6 admission price.
9. Moldova gained independence in 1991 and has a population of 3.5million. In comparison, an estimated four million people live in Yorkshire.
10. There are 89 football clubs in Moldova and 42,490 in England, according to stats published on the FIFA website.