Georgia On My Mind

No time to talk on the transfer ins, outs or maybes as we have something far more important to consider – a competitive match – how inconvenient !!! And, that it is some 2000 miles away from WHL makes it even more inconvenient for all concerned.
So what do we know about Tblisi and Georgia? To be fair we all probably know more about the history of the former Russian Republic of Georgia than we thought. For those of us with a classical education we will all remember the tales of Jason and the Argonauts who travelled in search of the Golden Fleece. Modern research suggests that they headed for the eastern Black Sea and the coast of Georgia in their quest.
St George – yes, our very own St George of England – is also the Patron Saint of Georgia, and predates his appointment with ourselves by many hundreds of years and his only meeting with a dragon may have been in Georgia – never anywhere near England. And 23rd April is the date celebrating his day in both countries. And have you seen their National Flag? Not one but five red crosses – crosses of St George – adorn their flag. We only have the one.
So what else do we know about Georgia and Tblisi ? In the words of Paul Daniels “Not a lot” and the same could be said of their football team.
Founded in 1936 they swiftly became members of the Russian First Division and are one of only a handfull of teams never to be relegated. Following independence and the establishment of the Georgian League, Tblisi have won the League 14 times and the Cup 9 times, also winning the European Cup Winners Cup in 1981 – their only international success.
Their stadium – now known as the Dinamo Arena – was built in 1976 but has been refurbished a few times including a very recent update leaving a capacity of 78,000, although due to UEFA seating regulations this will be around 53,000 for tomorrow´s game. In addition to the stadium the playing area has also been relaid with the new pitch changed to a specially adapted surface ideal for the local climate. Whilst this falls short of being termed “artificial” it is not the pure grass our guys are used to. Will this cause us any problems?
Their most famous player – or at least the most well known to English Premiership connoisseurs – was Georgi Kinkladzi, the dimunitive winger who played for Citeh during the late 90s with a spell at Derby around ten years ago.
Their current star is Francisco Javier Munoz Lloport – better known as Xisco – a 32 year old Spanish striker with an impressive record at Valencia, Betis and Llorente. Since joining Tblisi just over two years ago he has scored 50 goals in 79 appearance – an excellent scoring record. Virtually the rest of the entire squad is native to Georgia – some are internationals (which doesn´t say much) while the majority are not (which says even less).
No doubt they will defend stubbornly and hope to catch us on the break. We have played them once before and I can see a repeat and in a moment you will understand why. In 1974 we drew 1-1 away and then – thanks to braces from Chivers and Peters – went through 6-2 on aggregate following a 5-1 home win.
So, who will play? Apparently, Sandro and Vertonghen haven´t even travelled to Georgia to protect their legs on what might be a suspect surface. Should Kaboul be risked for the same reason? Obviously Friedal will start, but who else will fill the other ten spaces on the Manager´s starting sheet?
Looking to secure a place in the group stages has to be the prime objective whilst also ensuring no injuries to key personnel and with Swansolona and Le Arse on the horizon we need to be careful.
I would pick a conservative yet slightly youthful line up of –
Friedal
Naughton Dawson Kaboul Fryers
Cabuoe Carroll
Townsend Siggurdsen Chadli
Defoe
Rests for Paulinho and Soldado who could always come off the bench. And places alongside them for a whole host of the under 21s, possibly including the likes of Coulibaly, Coulthurst and Ceballos.
A draw would be good – a win even better – a defeat would not be the end of the world but we really do not want to go there.
Oh, and before I forget, the game is being televised. We only got confirmation this morning that it is being shown live so everyone down to Moores Bar or La Mariposa – kick off 6pm Spanish time.
Graeme
Secretary Spurs Supporters Spain
The future is bright – The future is Lilywhite

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