Maxime Chanot: “It’s not easy when you start an international game and you don’t have many chances to win the game.” (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
PURCHASE, N.Y. – Trying to pull off an international victory or even a draw can be a rare accomplishment for Luxembourg.
After all, the European country had an estimated population of 576,249 as of 2015, which is barely more than the number of citizens on Staten Island (476,000).
So, the number of players the national team can choose from is limited, which limits how far one of the minnows of Europe can achieve in international competitions.
It should not be surprising Luxembourg that never has qualified for the World Cup in 20 tries and has failed to reach the European Championship 14 times, although it has performed in the Olympics on six occasions (most recently the Helsinki Summer Olympics in 1952).
“It’s not easy when you start an international game and you don’t have many chances to win the game,” said New York City Maxime Chanot, who has made 20 international appearances for Luxembourg. “I started my first international game four-five years ago and I see a lot of improvement.
“We used to be not so good. Now we are close to many teams, many international teams in Europe. You have to think about improvement. We are much better than four years ago and I am looking forward to be much better the next four years.”
Chanot was uncertain whether the recent FIFA proposals to expand World Cup places will help Luxembourg reach soccer’s promised land.
“Normally, it will help a small team, but you know I think we have to be honest with ourselves. We are a small country. I don’t think we can qualify for a World Cup,” he said. “We have to be honest with the level of the team. But we never know in football. We never know what’s going to happen. At the moment, we are not ready but maybe the next [few] years. Who knows? We are looking forward. We have many players who are playing away from the country now, so I’m expecting to have a better team in the next few years. Maybe we’ll make something good.”
Perhaps Luxembourg could make a breakthrough in the UEFA Championships someday.
“It will be good,” Chanot said. “You never know in football.”
Heck, look what Iceland, with a population all of 330,000, accomplished at Euro 2016. It reached the quarterfinals before it was eliminated by host and eventual runner-up France, 5-2.
“Exactly, exactly,” he said. “And it’s a smaller country than Luxembourg, so you never know.”