By Paul-Daniel Zaharia in Campina
Central Slovakia Amateur emerged triumphant from the central/east preliminary round of the UEFA Regions' Cup in Romania after a final day win against hosts Dacia Amateur.
Jan Petrak's side won 1-0 against their Romanian hosts to complete a clean sweep of three victories in the mini-tournament and earn a place in qualifying Group 8 and a chance of reaching the finals of Europe's premier tournament for Amateur footballers next June.
Knowing that only a win would see them top the group, as they went into the final day with the same number of points but an inferior goal difference to their opponents, Dacia went for broke, but were undone moments after missing an open goal after 71 minutes. Central Slovakia immediately counterattacked with Maros Fojtik beating the host team's goalkeeper Alin Diaconescu to score the only goal of an excellent, competitive game in Campina.
Winner takes all
The final was destined to be a winner-takes-all game after Central Slovakia and Dacia won both of their opening games in the mini-tournament. Goals from Ion Preda and Marin Cosmin Chiva gave Dacia a 2-0 opening day win against Latvia Amateur in Campina, while Central Slovakia thrashed Estonia Amateur 5-0 in Ploiesti on the same day.
Richard Privitzer, Marek Jetko and Peter Planco all found the target before Jan Hrbek scored two late goals for Petrak's men. "Our opponents were not as strong as we expected and the only question was how many we would score," said the coach after the game.
Central Slovakia also scored five goals in their second game to beat Latvia 5-1. Planco opened the scoring after 45 minutes, with Fojtik scoring a second a minute into the second half. Jozef Letrik made it three before Kaspars Cinitis pulled a goal back for Latvia, but Privitzer struck twice in the closing stages to complete an emphatic win.
Dacia in command
Dacia also won 5-1 in their second game, going ahead after just four minutes through Ion Oprescu. Chiva made it 2-0 before half-time, and Razvan Vlad scored twice after the interval as Dacia dominated. Markko Kudu pulled a goal back for Estonia late on, but Silviu Istrate's added-time strike preserved Dacia's four-goal advantage.
Those results left everything to fight for on the final day of the tournament for Central Slovakia and Dacia, while Latvia took some pride after winning their final game 2-1 against Estonia in Ploiesti. Aleksejs Kuzmenko's own goal had given Estonia an early lead, but first-half strikes from Guntars Silagailis
and Gints Freimanis gave Latvia victory.
Dacia still have a chance of qualifying for a place in Group 2 as the best runners-up in the two preliminary rounds depending upon the results on the final day of the central/west tournament being held in Slovenia. With six points, Dacia need either Mid Cheshire Amateur and Northern Ireland Amateur to drop points in their final games against Malta Amateur and Primorska Amateur respectively.
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