Universitatea Craiova won the cup final 2-0 against AFC Hermannstadt, in front of an impressive 30,000-strong crowd at Bucharest’s national stadium. It is Craiova’s first trophy for 23 years. (Or, if you don’t consider it to be the same club since it was re-founded in 2013, their first ever!)
Having just won the Liga 1 title, Dan Petrescu has said goodbye to CFR Cluj and signed a lucrative deal to return to China with Guizhou Hengfeng, currently bottom of the Super League, with one win and one draw from eleven games. Of course it’s never about the money, but the former Bradford City man will reportedly be paid €2.6 million a year, plus a seriously hefty bonus if he keeps them up. According to Wikipedia, his squad includes former Rangers and Everton striker Nikica Jelavić. The Romanian press are reporting that Dan is likely to take CFR players Kevin Boli and Ciprian Deac with him, for inflated transfer fees, thus somewhat repaying his former club for his desertion.
Dunărea Călărași, from a small town on the north bank of the Danube east of Bucharest, are Liga 2 champions, after their final-day victory at Metaloglobus București. (‘I was there’ match report coming soon…) Hermannstadt, from lovely Sibiu in southern Transylvania, will join them in Liga 1 next season.
Going the other way are Juventus București and ACS Politehnica Timișoara. The people of Timișoara can look forward to the appetising ‘Derby of the Two Poli Timișoaras’ next season. FC Voluntari, coached (at the time of writing) by Adrian Mutu, had to go through a two-legged playoff against Chindia Târgoviște, who finished third in the second division, to determine which of them would compete at the top level next season. After both legs were won 1-0 by the home team, Mutu’s side squeaked through on penalties in Târgoviște this evening.
That home defeat to Dunărea condemns Metaloglobus to Liga 3 after just one season in the second tier. Also descending are Foresta Suceava and Știința Miroslava, while Olimpia Satu Mare and ASA Târgu Mureș (2014-15 Liga 1 runners-up) have gone bust and must start afresh in the county leagues.
The fourth-division battle between Academia Rapid and CSA Steaua, which claim to be (respectively) the successor to the defunct Rapid Bucharest and the true bearers of the identity of the not-defunct “Steaua Bucharest”, has drawn to a close. Not with a bang – that came in April at this match – but with more of a whimper. Academia Rapid triumphed again over a less experienced CSA side and they will now face the champions of Giurgiu county in the playoff for promotion to Liga 3. That team is FC Singureni, coached by none other than Dănuț Lupu, who played for Romania at the 1990 World Cup.
Bogdan “the Cat” Lobonț has retired! AS Roma’s long-serving back-up goalkeeper, who won his first cap in 1998 and went to two European Championships in the 2000s, has finally hung up his gloves. The 40-year-old has been included in Cosmin Contra’s squads ever since he took over the national team last year, apparently for his value to the group rather than from a real intention to field the former Rapid, Dinamo, Ajax and Fiorentina player between the sticks. He had not played a competitive game for anyone since 2012. However, in a friendly against Finland in Ploiești last week, Lobby was given a three-minute run-out as a substitute for number one choice Ciprian Tătărușanu. He thus won his 86th cap twenty years after his first, and five years after his 85th. The stadium’s big screen showed a video with affectionate tributes to the man from former team-mates and coaches: Chivu, Pancu, Totti, De Rossi, Ranieri, Mutu, Sneijder… Clearly a popular bloke, Lobby. (Perhaps* worth mentioning that he was in the 1998-99 double-winning Rapid Bucharest team, alongside the aforementioned Dănuț Lupu and this blog’s favourite pin-up Daniel Pancu.)
*If not, then what the hell is this blog for?