St George’s Day?

The Liga 2 promotion race is almost over. This Sunday, second-placed Sepsi OSK Sfântu Gheorghe are away at struggling CSM Metalul Reșița, where a point will guarantee a place in the top tier for the first time in their short history. (The fact that the game will take place in Ghermănești, a seven-hour drive and 550 km away from Reșița itself, is incidental and merely indicative of the malaise in which this country’s football finds itself. See this blog passim, if you’re not easily depressed by things like this.) This is terrific news because it allows me to shoehorn some undercooked socio-political material into this post.

Sepsi’s rivals for second place, UTA Bătrâna Doamnă, slipped up big time during their midweek game, following up a good win away at Timișoara by losing at home to mid-table Balotești, who should have had nothing to play for. The “Old Lady” of Arad now has only one game left to play, while Sepsi have two remaining fixtures in which to find one solitary point and condemn the Aradeans to a tough play-off with the third-bottom Liga 1 club. Continue reading

The King rules OK

Last Saturday night, Viitorul sealed their first-ever league title with a 1-0 win over CFR Cluj, thanks to a second-half penalty, in front of a sell-out crowd of 4,500. Goalscorer Gabi Iancu returned to Hagi’s club last summer from Steaua/FCSB, whose 3-0 victory at home to CSU Craiova secured them the second Champions’ League spot – ahead of city rivals Dinamo, whose draw with Astra Giurgiu made no difference to their final position of third. Got that? FCSB’s Gigi Becali still believes that the League’s regulations are unclear and intends to take his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, in the hope of having the trophy awarded to his club. Continue reading

Baraj fails to protect from flooding

Last Sunday saw the second leg of the baraj, the play-off to determine whether current Liga I side FC Voluntari, or the Liga II play-off winners UTA Bătrâna Doamnă, would take part in next season’s Romanian top flight. With Voluntari 3-0 up from the first leg, there seemed little chance that the phoenix club from the far west of the country could come back and win the tie. Continue reading