Lithuania v Slovakia at LFF Stadium in Vilnius in a very small stadium with the LFF headquarters on site in one corner. A much more muted affair then the previous day in Riga with the RAZZMATTAZ of CR7 and his Portuguese men of war. www.lff.it
I was at the reverse fixture last November in Trvana, Slovakia where the Slovakian Falcons put the visiting RINGTINE-The Lithuanian National team- to the sword 4-0. www.ronsblog.com FALCONS WIN BIG IN TRVANA .11/18/2016. The group F for FIFA 2018 Russia qualification is a difficult one with England, The Three Lions, the dominant force, plus Scotland and Slovenia and Malta. One victory and two draws so far. Slovakia are a decent team led by captain Martin Skrtlel, well travelled but now at Fenerbahce in Istanbul and the mercurial Vladimir Weis, now picking up decent pocket money in Qatar for Al-Gharafa SC
The LFF stadium was once owned by a local club FK Vetra, who went bust so it was taken over by the Lithuanian Federation. It holds about 5,000 with artificial turf and plans are to increase the capacity to 8,000. Basketball seems to be king around these parts with bigger indoor arenas, but Ringtine, are a decent team with little history since they were LSSR and part of the Soviet Empire. The most famous club is FK Zalgiris who play here after their decrepid stadium was torn down a few years ago and also home of FC Trakai, from the small village 30 km away. its very near the Vilnius train and bus stations.
I take a cheap €2 taxi to the match and enjoy some nice dainty sandwiches and cookies in the press room. To my right are maybe 500 visiting Slovak fans who have been enjoying the sights and cuisine in the Old Town. Pre match I meet with Audrius Paskevicius, the Ambassador for FK Sveikata of Kybartai, the country's oldest club from 1919, although he now lives in Vilnius with his family and is the FK Zalgiris goalkeeping coach. Also very helpful are Valdas Januska and Tautvydas Vencevivcius of the LFF media team.
There is a festive atmosphere prior to the 9.45 pm kick off with a practice pitch behind one goal utilized for fun games, competitions, face painting and beer and souvenir sales.
Lithuania are competitive throughout but the visiting Falcons have some seriously skillful players. I am a big admirer of Vladimir Weiss who is here, there and everywhere. He opens the scoring after 32 minutes to put the visitors ahead, and it remains 1-0 at half time. Marek Hamick of SSR Napoli makes it 2-0 in the 58th minute but the home team, urged on by a large group of passionate fans in one corner, who let of flares near the end, fight back. Arvidas Novikovas scores on the third minute of added time for a reasonable 2-1 defeat. He has played for Hearts and St. Johnstone in Scotland and is now with Polish club Jagiellonia Bialystok.
Not much chance of getting a cab back to my hotel, but it's an easy 1km walk, down hill all the way.