With FC Dacia Chisinau still celebrating their late UEFA Cup qualification, thoughts in Moldova are turning to the 2005/06 season.
UEFA Cup race
A month ago, FC Sheriff were long confirmed as champions and second-placed FC Nistru Otaci were already in Europe thanks to their Moldovan Cup win. That meant third position would bring a UEFA Cup berth and three teams were aiming for that slot with two games left.
At that point FC Tiraspol had 41 points, CSF Zimbru Chisinau 40 and cup finalists Dacia only 39. But Dacia defeated Tiraspol 4-1, allowing Zimbru to squeeze ahead as they prevailed 3-1 at Sheriff, only their second 2004/05 defeat. But a week later Ghenady Orbu's goal gave Dacia a decisive 1-0 victory against Zimbru, meaning Tiraspol's 2-1 win versus FC Unisport-Auto Chisinau was in vain.
Dacia's UEFA Cup debut comes against FC Vaduz, with the home leg next Thursday and the trip to Liechtenstein a fortnight later. Nistru, who go to Azerbaijan to play FK Khazar Lenkoran in their first leg, have lost Yuriy Groshev to Ukraine's FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih. FC Tiligul Tiraspol will not reach the UEFA Cup after departing the UEFA Intertoto Cup against Poland's MKS Pogon Szczecin.
Sheriff start their latest UEFA Champions League bid on Tuesday in Malta against Sliema Wanderers FC, with the winners to play FK Partizan in the second qualifying round. In warm-up games, Sheriff beat Romania's FC Gloria Buzau 2-0 but lost 1-0 to Ukraine's FC Chornomorets Odesa. Coach Leonid Kouchouk has signed a new three-year contract.
On the domestic scene, Sheriff will play Nistru in the Moldovan Super Cup on 6 August, a week before the league begins. As in the past, the eight teams will play each other four times, but now a coach will only be able to make three rather then four substitutions in a league match.
FC Politehnica Chisianu were promoted with FC Dinamo Bender after a 4-0 play-off win against Unisport-Auto, who went down with CS Steaua Chisinau. However, Moldovan Football Association president Pavel Ciobanu has expressed his anxiety about the fact the promoted clubs, and Nistru, have player wages in arrears. Ciobanu also announced that national coach Viktor Pasulko would not receive a new contract when FIFA World Cup qualifying ends against Norway in October.
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