San Marino: ‘The ultimate dream’ – world’s worst national football team chase first win for 20 years (Harry Poole, 3/1/24, BBC Sport)

It is approaching 17 years since San Marino captain Matteo Vitaioli, the player with the most appearances in the country’s history, first represented his national team. He is yet to celebrate a victory.

Two decades and 136 games interspersed with crushing defeats and the odd near-miss have passed since San Marino, the world’s fifth-smallest country, recorded the only win in the team’s history.

“The worst memory was the match away to the Netherlands in 2011, which ended 11-0,” Vitaioli tells BBC Sport. “It was already eight or nine with a lot of time left and I remember the supporters cheering on the Netherlands to see more goals.”

Surrounded by Italy and overlooked by the spectacular Mount Titano, San Marino has a population of just 33,000 and covers a mere 61 square kilometres – roughly half the size of Manchester.

According to Fifa’s rankings, it is home to the world’s worst national football team – one which has lost 192 of the 201 fixtures it has contested.

But Vitaioli and his team-mates have the chance to write a new chapter for their country this week when Saint Kitts and Nevis – the Caribbean nation 63 places above 210th-ranked San Marino – visit for two friendly matches.