Sheriff revel in another Moldovan triumph

After FC Sheriff wrapped up their third successive Moldovan league title – and a 13th in 14 years – coach Veaceslav Rusnac and his players quickly set their sights on a domestic double.

Luvannor Henrique has scored 26 league goals for Sheriff this season
Luvannor Henrique has scored 26 league goals for Sheriff this season ©Sergey Sokolov

"Our victory was well deserved and indisputable," said FC Sheriff head coach Veaceslav Rusnac, fresh from guiding the Tiraspol club to their 13th Moldovan First Division title in 14 seasons this weekend.

Appointed to replace Vitali Rashkevich in July 2013, Rusnac led the team to their third successive championship success courtesy of Saturday's 2-0 win at FC Costuleni, which gave Sheriff an unassailable 12-point lead at the top with three matches to play. "I congratulate all the fans, all the club staff," said the 38-year-old, whose side will enter the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League in the second qualifying round. "We will celebrate later since we are still facing three league matches and the Moldovan Cup [semi-final against Milsami on 7 May]."

Rusnac won the title as a FC Zimbru Chisinau defender in 1999/2000, but this season's triumph is his first as a coach after spells with Moldova's Under-17 national side, FC Academia Chisinau, FC Speranta and FC Iskra-Stal. "I am always very emotional over the results, and now emotions are running high," he added. "Thanks to everyone, the board and the lads, for their support."

Sheriff boast both the most prolific attack and the meanest defence in the Moldovan top flight this term, with 94 goals scored and just 14 conceded. Over the course of their 30 fixtures so far, they have failed to win just four times, with Brazilian-born Luvannor Henrique – the league's top scorer on 26 goals – the key figure in their multinational squad.

"Thank God we are champions again," said the 23-year-old, who made his debut for Moldova last November. "Despite a big breakaway from the second place, it was not easy. Winning the title is always difficult, but there is no time to relax. We want the Moldovan Cup too."

"It gets harder and harder every year," added Sheriff captain Miral Samardžić. "Many sides have strengthened and the tussle in the top half of the table became much more exciting. But we always set maximum goals for ourselves and try hard to reach them."

Slovenian defender Samardžić is celebrating his fourth league title since joining Sheriff in spring 2010, while Marko Stanojević is enjoying his second, but that did not diminish his emotions. "It means a lot for a football player to become a champion," said the Serbian midfielder. "Today I am happy. We won the league on merit and will now do our best to win the cup too and claim the domestic double."