Friday 22 September 2017

International legend Reim wary of Hoops' physical threat

Barry Lennon

A former European record holder is in Tallaght tonight. Former Estonian international Martin Reim earned 157 caps for his country, making him Europe's most capped international player when he retired in 2009.

His record has since been surpassed by Latvia's Vitalijs Astafjevs.

Now Europe's second-most capped international (whose tally puts Shay Given's 113 caps in perspective), Reim arrived in Dublin last Sunday as his FC Flora Tallinn team gear up for tonight's Champions League qualifier against Shamrock Rovers.

FC Flora are leading the Meistriliiga, Estonia's top division, and Reim insisted his young team's domestic competition is their first priority.

The Estonians are in flying form this year and are unbeaten.

"We have not lost a game, although we have drawn five," Reim said.

Successful

Like Rovers, Flora are their nation's most successful club, having won the Estonian title eight times in the competition's 20-year history.

While Reim has brought a squad of young players to Dublin, the team includes a number of Estonian internationals. Not that the national team's 2-0 away defeat to Brian Kerr's Faroe Islands last month will give Michael O'Neill much cause for concern.

Four of Tallin's players have past experience of Rovers, having played at Tallaght Stadium last year in an U-21 international.

Reim reckons that Rovers will be of a higher standard than his players are used to facing in the Meistriliiga and the FC Flora manager also fears that his charges may struggle to adapt to the physical challenge.

Nonetheless, he is quietly optimistic.

"This is a good match for our players to show what they do," he added.

Irish Independent

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