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Season review: Georgia

Published: Tuesday 9 June 2009, 14.45CET
Fitness, discipline and team football helped FC WIT Georgia to claim their second Georgian title this season while FC Dinamo Tbilisi goalkeeper Giorgi Loria was the hero in the cup final, which ended in a penalty shoot-out.
by Vakhtang Bzikadze
from Tbilisi
Season review: Georgia
WIT Georgia celebrate winning their second title
Published: Tuesday 9 June 2009, 14.45CET

Season review: Georgia

Fitness, discipline and team football helped FC WIT Georgia to claim their second Georgian title this season while FC Dinamo Tbilisi goalkeeper Giorgi Loria was the hero in the cup final, which ended in a penalty shoot-out.

Fitness, discipline and team football helped FC WIT Georgia to claim their second Georgian title this season while FC Dinamo Tbilisi goalkeeper Giorgi Loria was the hero in the cup final, which ended in a penalty shoot-out. Next season will see the Umaghlesi Liga reduced from eleven teams to ten. FC Borjomi, FC Spartaki Tskhinvali and FC Gagra were relegated while two-time Georgian Cup winners FC Ameri Tbilisi are back after a one-season absence for financial reasons. Runners-up in 1994/95, FC Samtredia have also been promoted.

Champions: FC WIT Georgia
Fit, disciplined and organised, Nestor Mumladze's side kept their heads when all around them were losing theirs. Having lost in their fourth game of the season, they remained unbeaten for the rest of the campaign, eventually claiming the crown following a 4-3 win at FC Sioni Bolnisi. "I knew it would be a tough game," said Mumladze.

Cup final: Dinamo Tbilisi 1-1 FC Olimpi Rustavi (aet, Dinamo win 2-0 on penalties)
Dinamo finished the season six points adrift of WIT Georgia at the top of the table, but won their ninth Georgian Cup time. Giorgi Nergadze's goal looked set to win the tie in normal time, but Giorgi Megreladze's late free-kick put the champagne back on ice. Goalkeeper Loria eventually won the day in a low-scoring shoot-out. Dinamo coach Kakhaber Kacharava said: "Maybe I made a small contrubution to our Georgian Cup triumph but all credit should go to the players who were the real heroes."

European places:
WIT Georgia – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
Dinamo – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FC Olimpi Rustavi – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
FC Zestafoni – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

Player of the Year: Didier Ovono (FC Dinamo Tbilisi)
The Gabonese international was the season's standout performer, demonstrating sound goalkeeping skills as well as putting hearts in mouths with his occasional forays upfield. French fans will get a closer look at him next season, with the 26-year-old signing for Ligue 1 side Le Mans UC 72 in May for a reported €700,000 fee.

One to watch: Giorgi Beriashvili (FC WIT Georgia)
A star substitute in the first half of the season, scoring three goals, the 22-year-old replaced the league's best scorer at the time – eight-goal Vakhtang Kvaratskhelia – in the first XI at the winter break, with his five goals in the spring marking him out as a player of real promise.

Surprise package: FC Ameri Tbilisi
Having voluntarily relinquished their top-division place due to a financial crisis, two-time Georgian Cup winners Ameri lost 20 of their first-team players, but coach Giorgi Chikhradze – who led the club to both of those cup successes, in 2006 and 2007 – did not give in, assembling a new side which won promotion back to the Umaghlesi Liga.

Leading scorer: Nikolos Gelashvili, FC Zestafoni (20)

Number: 12
The number of goals scored by Dinamo in their last-day win against FC Borjomi, with Ilija Spasojević bagging four of them. He was still five short of the league record set by Mikhail Dzhishkariani, who registered nine times for FC Tskhumi Sukhumi in an 11-0 win against FC Mertskhali Ozurgeti in 1991/92.

Quote
"We played against Gagra without a coach and the board asked me to choose the starting lineup before the game; you cannot call that football."
FC Borjomi's 19-year-old striker Ilija Pavliashvili laments after his side dismissed their fourth coach of the season.

Last updated: 09/06/09 14.55CET

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