Rudar clinch maiden Montenegrin title

FK Rudar Pljevlja have become champions of Montenegro for the first time in their history despite losing 2-0 at FK Berane, their closest rivals FK Budućnost Podgorica having also suffered defeat.

Rudar Pljevlja are the new champions of Montenegro
Rudar Pljevlja are the new champions of Montenegro ©AFP

FK Rudar Pljevlja have claimed their first Montenegrin title with two matches to go despite suffering a 2-0 loss at FK Berane.

With closest challengers FK Budućnost Podgorica also coming undone, beaten 2-0 at FK Sutjeska, Rudar find themselves an unassailable seven points clear at the summit. "This is an incredible feeling," said coach Nebojša Vignjević. "This title is the product of hard work, good planning and the great atmosphere among the players and within the club. We were better than Budućnost and in Montenegro this is a big success. I think we played consistently throughout the whole season; we didn't have a crisis period and we deserve the title."

The decisive moment in Rudar's route to championship honours came when they beat Budućnost 2-1 at home on 31 March. That victory moved them six points clear and they never looked like letting their advantage slip. Overall, in their three meetings with their nearest rivals, Rudar took seven points from a possible nine. The duo will now meet again in the Montenegrin Cup final in Podgorica on 19 May. "We will not celebrate as we want to win the cup as well," explained Vignjević. "I hope Wednesday night will be Rudar's night at Budućnost's stadium."

The new titleholders can also look forward to entering next season's UEFA Champions League in the first qualifying round, with Budućnost's league position entitling them to enter the UEFA Europa League at the same stage. The tussle for third spot and the last UEFA Europa League qualifying berth has yet to be resolved between FK Mogren, FK Zeta and OFK Grbalj.