The goals were scored by Plesan (5th minute) and Bucur (30th and 55th minutes), who were aided excellently by Nigerian winger Abiodun.
The match against CFR Cluj should be more of a challenge for everyone involved and that will probably a more real test of our ability. For now, we are allowed to hope.
The mere 10,000 spectators who took up an interest in watching the match live seemed subdued by the extremely hot weather. The match - in which Fiorentina used several non-first team players - started badly for Poli, as their opponents scored at their first chance through Gobbi, thanks to a good cross and errors by Canu and Dancia. One might have believed that the match would take off after the early goal, but it did not. Poli seemed to control the hostilities, but without converting the possession into scoring opportunities. Fiorentina just laid low.
The second half was a bit more energic to begin with, as our opponents put pressure on Poli's defense. This dominant spell climaxed with a fine finish from Mutu, parried by Marius Popa. Although run down by the heat, Poli tried to keep the game away from Popa's goal and even score a goal of their own. After some tedious, rather Italian, football, it was substitute Plesan who found himself at the receiving end of a Vrsic free kick and converted with ease. Not much happened until the final whistle, when a more or less bland fireworks show rounded up a more or less un-festive evening.
Obviously, there's a lot of work to be done and I sincerely doubt the current squad is up to fulfill this season's UEFA Cup objective. Unless the problems in defense are somehow solved or patched, the road ahead seems very rough.
Through satellite: ProTV International
SATELLITE Eutelsat W2 a 16°Est FREQUENZA 11513 - POLARIZZAZIONE Verticale - SYMBOL RATE 29950 - FEC 3/4
SATELLITE Sirius2 a 5°Est FREQUENZA 12455 - POLARIZZAZIONE Orizzontale - SYMBOL RATE 27500 - FEC 3/4.
Spirits are high all around, despite some nasty flaws in organizing the ticket sales as well as renewed delays in inaugurating the official team shop. As long as the team doesn't disappoint tomorrow, I guess spirits should remain high until at least the 2nd match day, when we meet CFR Cluj.
Hopefully I'll have many good things to report, tomorrow.
In the context of heavy duty training which preceded the match, it is understandable that the team did not play at its full potential. However, some things are still of reasonable concern. Firstly, there are at least three postions which are susceptible to improvements: defender left, defender centre and striker. Perhaps the most urgent of them is the defender left post, which - to my mind - is currently way sub-par to our expectations (newly signed Dancia does not seem up to the task). Also, another central defender and a striker would be necessary to ensure good cover of most positions in case of an injury crisis.
Of the current squad, some players seem out of place. Izvoranu just keeps confirming that he is incapable in whatever position he may play (the equalizer followed after his error), while Mansour can't seem to learn anything (else) about the beautiful game of football. I will refrain from making any (negative) comments about the other new signings, and will only say that Ganea and Stancu were two pleasing additions.
Now, Mr. Uhrin is faced with a completely new challenge: to turn around a bland team studded with "star-power" in a foreign championship where backstage "acting" still plays a considerable role. While support for Poli has been waning of last, after repeated disillusionments, fans are hoping that Uhrin proves to be the first manager after Cosmin Olaroiu capable of bringing the team up in the rankings.
In this sense, a number of seven players joined Timisoara this summer transfer window: Marian Aliuta (Iraklis Salonik), Arman Karamyan (Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt), Cristian Dancia (ex-Torpedo Moscow), Dare Vrsic (MSK Zilina), Ionel Ganea (Rapid Bucharest), Stelian Stancu (Steaua Bucharest) and Alin Ratiu (Sportul Studentesc). Most of these players have to prove that they can still play top-level football, with Dare Vrsic and Ionel Ganea being the exceptions.
The team left for Hungary, early June, to work on their physical condition. At the end of tiresome week, Uhrin's Poli played their first match against Hungarian First League team FC Ujpest. The 4-1 (Torje twice, Cristea and Plesan) recorded in our favor came as little surprise, considering the low quality of football in our neighboring country, but it did bear some promise for the future.
The next destination was Austria, where the team faced three opponents of varying ability. First, MSK Zilina (champions of Slovakia), in a match which ended 2-2 (goals by Ganea and trialee Apetri); then a 0-0 against Cyprus champions, APOEL Nicosia; followed by a 6-1 thrashing of Azerbaijan champions, FC Lankran (goals by Plesan twice, Vrsic, Torje and Bucur twice). A last friendly against Metalurg Zaporoje was cancelled due to bad weather.
This Friday the squad returned to Timisoara, where they are going to continue their pre-season preparations. A match against Vojvodina Novi Sad has been arranged on the 11th of July, which will be followed by two other games against teams at this time unknown. Then, on the 22nd of July, the last pre-season friendly against AC Fiorentina, at Timisoara. Hopefully a feast worthy of a good season to come!
1. We finished 7th in the Championship, behind teams which (at least on paper) are far inferior than Poli and have invested far less (Gloria Bistrita, Otelul Galati)
2. We had four different managers:
- Sorin Cartu (last person to have won the Championship with a non-Bucharest team - not of much use to us, though);
- Alin Artimon (came in as a temporary solution, seemed to be a permanent one, resigned shortly after the season re-run);
- Iosif Rotariu (manager of our second team, usually steps in for a few matches - did so this year too);
- Valentin Velcea (ex-assistant manager of Hagi and Cartu, also ex-Poli player, he seemed to have turned the team spirit around and won five consecutive matches in the Championship, but his decisions in preparing for the Romanian Cup Final were at least debatable if not straight out bad)
3. We reached the Romanian Cup Final, as hinted above, but lost it against Rapid Bucharest, although the match was played in Timisoara. What a sad and distasteful night!
These were last season's achievements - if I dare call them so - and as has been customary in the last years, they were far below everyone's expectations. Yet, most reckon it all comes down to the manager, and with four different (inexperienced some) managers you cannot attain a high level of performance.
Well, I've been pondering the issue for eons - whether to make another English version of my blog (ex-website) or not. Downside of it is, that I have to update it regularly if I am to maintain any decent level of self respect; and the second little glitch may be that there are scarcely any non-Romanian speaking fans out there.
But I guess it's worth a try, given that our manager is of Czech origins and we also boast quite a few foreign players who might have some adoring admirerers out there. I'll do my best to keep you updated in the weeks to come and my first move will probably be a short recap of the first month with Dusan Uhrin in charge. In a few days, or so.