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Season review: Georgia

Published: Friday 31 May 2013, 8.37CET
FC Dinamo Tbilisi reigned supreme as Dušan Uhrin Jr led the club to their first title since his father oversaw their 2007/08 triumph, adding the Georgian Cup for good measure.
by Vahtang Bzikadze
from Tbilisi
Season review: Georgia
Dinamo Tbilisi enjoy their Georgian Cup triumph ©Lasha Kuprashvili
Published: Friday 31 May 2013, 8.37CET

Season review: Georgia

FC Dinamo Tbilisi reigned supreme as Dušan Uhrin Jr led the club to their first title since his father oversaw their 2007/08 triumph, adding the Georgian Cup for good measure.

FC Dinamo Tbilisi reasserted themselves on the domestic scene in Georgia as Dušan Uhrin Jr led the club to their 14th post-independence league title and their first since his father steered them to glory five years ago. Not involved in European competition for the first time in 19 years, the capital club focused their efforts fully on matters closer to home and also lifted a tenth Georgian Cup, earning their first double since 2003.

Champions: FC Dinamo Tbilisi
Appointed last summer, Uhrin Jr proved that success runs in the family as he reacquainted Dinamo with the championship crown they last won under Dušan Uhrin Sr in 2007/08. The side from Tbilisi moved to the head of the pack after the third round of games and led from the front for the rest of the season, wrapping things up with two matches remaining and finishing ten points clear of FC Dila Gori. With Uhrin Jr, 45, mastering the art of squad rotation, his charges maintained high standards throughout the campaign.

Cup final: FC Dinamo Tbilisi 3-1 FC Chikhura Sachkhere
Soso Pruidze's Chikhura did sensationally well to reach the final but they were no match for a Dinamo team desperate to seal their domestic double. Only goalkeeper Giorgi Somkhishvili kept the scores level at half-time after saving Xisco Muñoz's spot kick for Dinamo, yet the capital outfit found the net through Giorgi Merebashvili, Levan Khmaladze and Irakli Dzaria after the break. Although Dinamo ended the game with ten men and Edik Sajaia struck a late consolation for Chikhura, Uhrin Jr soon had another trophy to savour.

European places*
FC Dinamo Tbilisi – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
FC Dila Gori – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FC Torpedo Kutaisi – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
FC Chikhura Sachkhere – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Xisco Muñoz (FC Dinamo Tbilisi)
Plenty of talented performers caught the eye – and almost all of them hailed from Dinamo's attacking department. Jaba Dvali racked up 20 league goals and both Merebashvili and Mikel Álvaro played vital roles as well, but 32-year-old Xisco was a notch above. The Spaniard enjoyed his most prolific campaign yet, registering 24 times in the top flight.

One to watch: Giorgi Pantsulaia (FC Torpedo Kutaisi)
The son of Mamuka Pantsulaia – joint-top scorer in Georgia's first championship post independence – Giorgi emerged as a firm favourite of the Torpedo faithful. The 19-year-old gained a squad place fresh from sports college and worked hard all term, making 20 appearances from the bench and contributing numerous assists to help his side come third. Named as a starter in the club's penultimate fixture against Dila Gori, he celebrated with a pair of goals.

Surprise package: FC Chikhura Sachkhere
Contesting just their second season in the elite, Chikhura were held back by a lack of experience, despite the average age of their first team (28) being the highest in the division. They nonetheless managed to finish fourth ahead of FC Zestafoni to leave last year's champions without European football – and as Georgian Cup runners-up they now await their UEFA Europa League bow. "We have reached our aim already," commented coach Pruidze prior to the final. "We are going to make our debut in Europe. Even if we don't claim the Georgian Cup, we won't lose out."

Leading scorer: Xisco Muñoz, FC Dinamo Tbilisi (24)

Relegated: FC Dinamo Batumi, FC Kolkheti Poti

Promoted: FC Spartaki Tskhinvali, FC Guria Lanchkhuti

Number: 11
After Georgi Daraselia took over the Dila Gori reins, the team enjoyed a run of 11 consecutive victories in which they beat every other league side and conceded just one goal – a league record.

"Today's victory [against Dila] is merely a small step towards the title and decides nothing. We have a game on Wednesday and there's nothing to celebrate as we have the whole season ahead of us."
Dinamo coach Dušan Uhrin Jr after a crucial win over the main pursuer

Last updated: 24/05/14 1.31CET

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