Piiroja's testimonial match ends 1-1

Estonian team captain Raio Piiroja Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
3/31/2015 3:00 PM
Category: Sports

National football team center-back Raio Piiroja, 35, played his last game for Estonia on Tuesday evening, in a friendly match against Iceland which ended in a 1-1 draw. Piiroja collected his 114th cap for the national team.

The defender played in attack in his last match and was substituted for Sergei Zenjov on the 13th minute.

The match itself began well for the visitors who opened the scoring through Rurik Gislason on the 9th minute. Iceland pressed hard in the first 15 minutes while Estonia struggled to get in to the game.

Slowly Estonia began finding its feet and began to threaten Iceland's goal. Konstantin Vassiljev scored the equalizer on the 55th minute after some excellent ball control, shooting into the low corner from 15 meters. Both teams had numerous chances in a highly entertaining and open match.

Piiroja's first game for the national team took place over 16 years ago on November 21 1998. He scored eight goals for the national team.

Piiroja's greatest club period came in Norway, where he played for Fredrikstad FK between 2004-2011. He had short stints with Vitesse of the Netherlands and Chengdu Blades of China before returning to Estonia last year. He was signed up for FC Flora last season but did not play due to injuries, which have plagued his career in recent years.

He captained the national team between 2008-2011, won the Estonian league title in 2001 and 2002 with Flora, won the Norwegian cup in 2006 and a silver medal in the Norwegian top league in 2008. He was voted Estonia's best footballer in 2002, and four times between 2006-2009.

Martin Reim remains the most capped player for Estonia, having racked up 157 games/14 goals for the national team. Marko Kristal is second with 143 games/9 goals, followed by Andres Oper 134/38, Mart Poom 120/0, Kristen Viikmäe 115/15. Piiroja ended his career on 114 games, but Enar Jääger 113/0 and Ragnar Klavan 101/3 are closing in.

Estonia has had great trouble scoring goals in recent matches, failing to score in the last four official games and in a 3-0 friendly defeat to Qatar. Estonia have managed to grind out two 1-0 wins, against Jordan and Norway, between the last few official games.

The next EURO 2016 qualifying match is on June 14, when Estonia hosts San Marino. Lithuania travels to Estonia on September 5 and Estonia plays Slovenia away three days later. Estonia will also play against England (October 9, away) and Switzerland (October 12, home) this year.

J.M. Laats

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