Saturday, October 5, 2013

5 October 1996 - That's An Anniversary Nobody Wants To Reach

On 5 October 1996, Estonia ended a near three-year winless streak when they beat Belarus in a World Cup qualifier.

Their prior win was a 2-0 victory over Liechtenstein in a friendly on 14 October 1993, which they then followed with twelve straight defeats. The winless streak extended to 34 games, including only six draws. The last of those 34 was a 1-0 away loss to Belarus in a qualifier for the 1998 World Cup in August 1996.

Two months later, Estonia hosted Belarus in Tallinn for the return fixture. It was a physcial game, with injuries forcing both sides to make first-half substitutions, but a clean one, with only three yellow cards. The highlight for Estonia came in the 52nd minute when central defender Sergei Hohlov-Simson put the ball past the Belarus goalkeeper. It was the day's only goal, giving Estonia their first win in almost three years.

Unfortunately for Estonia, the win did not signal a significant shift in fortune. Although they went on to get wins against Indonesia, Andorra, and Cyprus over the next five months, they failed to qualify for the World Cup, finishing next to last in their group, with Belarus as the only team below them.

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