Occurrences

RomaniaBalls news

I have finally written up reports from two very different matches: read about the clash of Liga 4 (“Rapid” v “Steaua”) here… and my first ever handball game(s) here.

Read on for a round-up of other Romball titbits… Continue reading

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Post-Autumn Equinox News In Brief

My second Academia Rapid home game – again well attended, but seriously lacking in quality and notable mainly for the appearance of the much-loved 40-year-old striker Daniel Pancu, is detailed here.

Excitingly, Romaniaballs also paid a visit to second-division Metaloglobus București in far-off Pantelimon. Field notes here.

Direct your mouse pointer or index finger to the “I was here” section on the menu if you want more whimsical, inaccurate match ‘reports’. And who doesn’t?

rapid-1999-1
Rapid, 1998-99: Lobont in green; Pancu third man on his right.

In other good news for the old guys, 39-year-old Bogdan Lobonț showed the strength in depth of Romanian goalkeeping by being named in the provisional squad for the national team’s World Cup qualifiers against Kazakhstan and Denmark. “Lobby”, a former team-mate of Pancu’s at Rapid, before going on to play for Ajax and later Dinamo, won 85 caps between 1998 and 2013. He is now in his ninth season at AS Roma, where he has made the grand total of 22 competitive appearances for the club. This man, who was the oldest member of the squad when he last featured for Romania in 2013, is apparently still considered the country’s fourth-best goalkeeper four years later, despite not having played a competitive match at all during the intervening time.

The squad was selected the day before Christoph Daum’s successor as national team boss, Cosmin Contra, started work at the federation. The qualifiers, incidentally, are dead rubbers, since Romania can no longer qualify for Russia 2018. The club Contra has just left, Dinamo, have appointed Chiajna coach Vasile Miriuță to replace him; they have lost to FCSB and Chiajna in the week since then and the Pit is not a happy place. The team Miriuță coached last season, CFR Cluj, now under Dan Petrescu, are still top of the table and going strong.

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