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Season review: Moldova

Published: Wednesday 1 June 2011, 14.33CET
For the first time since 2000 FC Sheriff went without a trophy as their ten-year run as champions was ended by FC Dacia Chisinau while FC Iskra-Stal lifted the Moldovan Cup.
by Evgheni Balaniuk
from Tiraspol
Season review: Moldova
Dacia enjoy their first league title ©Boris Kharchenko
Published: Wednesday 1 June 2011, 14.33CET

Season review: Moldova

For the first time since 2000 FC Sheriff went without a trophy as their ten-year run as champions was ended by FC Dacia Chisinau while FC Iskra-Stal lifted the Moldovan Cup.

FC Dacia Chisinau ended FC Sheriff's ten-year monopoly of the Moldovan First Division bu winning their first league title. Indeed it was a year of change as FC Iskra-Stal won their maiden major honour by beating FC Olimpia Balti in the Moldovan Cup final.

Champions: FC Dacia Chisinau
Sheriff began the season on the longest current run of consecutive titles in the world but their hopes of reaching Skonto FC's European record of 14 were dashed by Dacia, who few tipped before the start of the season. In the end, though, Dacia pulled away late in the campaign to finish nine points clear of Sheriff – who did not lose to the new champions, inflicting their only league defeat and drawing twice. The title thus returned to Chisinau, a city whose clubs won the first nine post-independence leagues before Sheriff began their dominance in 2000/01.

Cup final: FC Iskra-Stal 2-1 FC Olimpia Balti
Neither Iskra-Stal nor Olimpia – who finished fifth and sixth respectively on 74 points apiece – had reached the final before and, as their league positions suggested, they played out a close contest. Iskra-Stal, who ended Sheriff's three-year hold on the trophy in the semi-finals, emerged victorious thanks to Oleksandr Suchu and Evgheni Gorodeţchi's first-half goals.

European places*
FC Dacia Chisinau – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
FC Iskra-Stal – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FC Sheriff – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
FC Milsami Orhei – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Levan Korgalidze (FC Dacia Chisinau)**
A seven-time Latvian champion with Skonto between 1999 and 2005, the much-travelled 31-year-old midfielder played a crucial role in Dacia's maiden triumph, scoring 13 goals and making many more. After his crucial last-gasp equaliser against Sheriff on 16 March, he said: "I will always remember this goal."

** choice, official award in December

One to watch: Michael Pasechnyuk (FC Olimpia Balti)
Starting the season as a fringe player, the 20-year-old ended it a regular with five league goals to his name, also catching the attention of the Moldova national coach Gavril Balint for his fine performances on the left wing at Under-21 level.

Surprise package: FC Academia UTM Chisinau
Dacia's city rivals under Oleg Bejenaru and Vitalie Culibaba, Academia made life complicated for many big teams. All the big-hitters dropped points against Academia, founded five years ago by Igor Dobrovolski – now the coach of Dacia, who was more than grateful for his old charges' two 1-0 defeats of Sheriff. Academia themselves finished ninth, though there was a 25-point gap to FC Costuleni in tenth.

Top scorer: Gheorghe Boghiu (FC Milsami Orhei) 26

Relegated: CF Gagauziya Comrat, FC Dinamo Bender

Promoted: none

Number: 118
The amount of goals conceded by bottom-placed Dinamo Bender, more than three per game and over 100 more than the champions. They did secure some impressive results, however, beating fourth-placed FC Zimbru Chisinau 1-0 and holding bronze-medallists FC Milsami Orhei, but their two home games against Sheriff ended in 7-0 defeats.

"I am proud of my team. We had enough insolence and arrogance to overcome all the obstacles. The next league will be even more interesting. I can say 99% that Sheriff will be deprived of the title once again regardless of the amount of money they spend." Dacia director Adlan Shishkhanov during the title-winning celebrations.

Last updated: 13/07/11 10.08CET