Shetland’s footballers face a tough task in their quest to recapture the Island Games trophy they won here in 2005 after coming out of the hat in a four-team group alongside this year’s host island Åland, as well as Greenland and Menorca.
It means they avoid big boys like Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Man, along with the Western Isles who recently won here, for a competition which gets underway in seven weeks’ time. But the group seems sure to provide a stern test for John Jamieson’s men. They kick off on Sunday 28th June with a match against Menorca before facing the hosts the following day and completing the group stages against Greenland on 30th June.
There is a 16-team, four-group format this year with each of the group winners progressing to the semi finals, which will be played on July 2nd after a rest day.
Jamieson said it was a daunting task but one he and his players were relishing nonetheless: “It’s certainly a very, very difficult draw. We don’t know what Menorca will be like because they’ve not played that much in previous games. Åland will be a highlight – there’ll be a big crowd there and Shetland having won the games in 2005 it’ll probably be a very much anticipated fixture, I would think.”
Having won the competition with a 2-0 victory over Guernsey here in 2005, it was controversially decided that Shetland would sit out the 2007 games in Rhodes. In that tournament, from which the Isle of Man and Guernsey were also missing, Menorca finished in 5th place and Åland came in 7th, while Greenland were another of the islands not involved.
Neighbouring Orkney have decided not to send a team of footballers this time around.