CIP Deva will not be lining up in the UEFA Futsal Cup final four, but finishing second in Elite round Group C was a huge achievement.
Romania are relative newcomers at the top level in the small-sided game. Last season, ACS Odorheiu Secuiesc lost all their matches and no Romanian side had ever made progress in this competition prior to this season. That changed in the Main round this year as Deva bounced back from losing their European debut match 3-2 to FC Marlène - having led 2-0 - to defeat KMN GIB Beton MTO Zagorje and KMF Marbo Beograd to go through behind the Serbian champions in a tight three-way tie.
But that was just a prelude to a tremendous Elite round campaign in Moscow. Few gave them a hope against MFK Dinamo Moskva, runners-up for the last two seasons, 2005/06 semi-finalists FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Sporting Clube de Portugal. However, in their opener against Shakhtar, Deva picked up a 4-3 victory - their winning margin only reduced by two last-minute goals from the Ukrainian club - and although they then lost 9-0 against Dinamo, a 3-3 draw with Sporting gave them second place, and they were only denied a second win by a late equaliser.
Deva, who look a good bet to return next season as they lead the way in Romania after 13 straight wins, have grown thanks to investment from three backers. Their main investor, Gheorghe Mara, said: "For us it was a very useful experience which proved two things. Firstly, that in the space of a very few years we have made a very important step up to the European level. Secondly, that we play at the same level as teams which have huge budgets compared with us and, of course, who can afford to bring in a lot of foreign players, especially Brazilians."
'I am proud'
He added: "Our lack of experience meant we did not win more clearly against Shakhtar or beat Sporting. Each time we conceded goals in the last minutes and this shows our lack of experience. Against Dinamo Moskva it was another thing entirely, because they are futsal's galácticos, but, even so, if our coach had been more inspired, maybe we would have lost by less. Anyway, we did the maximum possible and I am proud."
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