Steaua - Poli 3:3 (1:0)

This match has lived up to its name as a confrontation between the 2nd and 3rd placed teams. And for this championship that means a fast-paced game, lots of goals and a dramatic finish, but with lots of errors, poor quality football, the battle in midfield and the opportunities being decided by goofs rather than by brilliant play.

Sabău had sent in, as usual, a weird lineup. With Alexa being suspended, Angolan Dede made his debut for Poli, but his close-ups cast a rather dark light upon him: a clash with Arman Karamyan, two injuries and a loose marking at the first goal. Contra and Bourceanu weren't as effective as the last match, Steaua dominating the first half, and Cociș again not being integrated with the rest of the team.

Golanski had the first opportunity coming in from the left and rattling the sidebar. Taborda was providential in front of Kapetanos and Plesan, the former being a big threat, especially in the air, to our defenders. In the 33rd minute a corner kick could only be deflected to the side, where Golanski moved the balled past Dede and scored from close range. Our only chance of the first half came from a nice flow that found Goga a meter ahead of his man, but his dash wasn't what you would expect and his last moment shot was straight into Zapata.

Without any modifications at half time, somehow the tide had changed into our favour, and the first chance found Bonfim completely open inside the box, but he showed this was a rather unusual position for him, and he poorely delivered the cross. Our goal came in the 50th minute after, of course, a bad pass from Plesan at midfield. Goga was quick to react, opened Cocis perfectly, who dahsed away to score past Zapata.

The game stagnated, with one opportunity each close to the 80 minute mark. Kapetanos was again stopped by Taborda, and Goga managed to go past a couple of defenders, but his shot went way over. Throughout this championship, both Poli and Steaua have managed to score many goals in the last 10 minutes, sealing crucial points. Indeed, it was exactly the 80th minute when, at an action inside our box, Bonfim was to slow to clear, and our ex-player - Artiom (who replaced his brother) stole the ball and was brought down by the Brazilian. Kapetanos transformed the penalty, the ball going under Taborda, who was very close to stop it.

Sabău acted quickly, risking everything by substituting a defender - Mera, for Magera. The game quickly switched in our favour. Bonfim made up for his error, being brought down in the box. Contra executed without emotions and Poli hoped for more. Just 3 minutes later, with one before injury time, Cociș won a free-kick close to the left corner of the box. Contra executed well, the wall deflected the ball to the other side of the goal and Poli was alredy celebrating. Sabău quickly introduced Nibombe to guard this advantage.

In the last minute, however, Kozak lost the ball midfield, and our defense was caught outnumbered. A diagonal cross met Kapetanos on the right, Taborda was there to block him, but the ball jumped to Jelev, who pushed it into the empty goal.

A draw that helps none of the teams. CFR Cluj has gained a 6 point advantage and it seems impossible for them to lose the title now. Urziceni have jumped over Poli and Steaua, with 53 points, the same as Steaua, while Poli is just one point behind. Vaslui still has to play, and a win for them will bring them on level terms with us.

As you can see, a very tight battle for top positions, each striving for a better spot in the European competitions. It will be tought, but we hope that in the end we will be above all of them.

Poli: Taborda (6,5) - Sepsi (5), Cisovsky (6), Mera (6), Bonfim (5) - Bourceanu (6), Contra (7), Dede (6), Curtean (5) - Cociş (6), Goga (5,5)


Kozak (4) for Dede (min 66)
Magera for Mera (min 83)
Nibombe for Curtean (min 90)


Poli - CFR Cluj 1:1 (0:0)

Poli played great, the first half being one of the best this season, good rythm, fast passing, possession, dribbling, basically just eye-pleasing football. But the end of the match found us all cheering, relieved of all frustration, for a very late equaliser.

Sabău sent in a strange lineup. As always it might be said. But this played to great effect. Not only were the opponents baffled, but it produced a fast-paced game based on continuous passes. For the first time, probably, Poli played with only one defensive midfielder - Alexa. In front of him we found Contra, as determined as ever, and his mark on the game could be well seen, bringing attitude and ambition, which were totally lacking the past two matches. The flanks were covered by Bourceanu and Curtean, but while Curtean usually played left, and Bourceanu had at times played on the right, this time they were switched. This must have awoken Curtean, whose performances up to date were way under par. Perhaps because he was a bit lost with his position in the beginnning, he was more in the game than usual and had a strong influence on his flank, along with the very offensive Bonfim, while Bourceanu was dazzling to his opponents on the left, twisting and turning them like we would have expected from Mejia rather than him.

That was the key. With a strong midfield, precise pressing, Cluj barely managed to get out of their own half. But this didn't trouble them much. The championship leaders happy with the draw, put out a sturdy defense and were wasting time very early in the game. Nevertheless, the first big opportunity arised inside the first minute, when Mansour was found in the box, touched the ball right in front of the keepr, who could only bring him down. But the referees didn't see it, and no penalty was given. 12 minutes later, the same Mansour is at the end of a cross from Sepsi, but Nuno Claro's deflection is enought to make him miss the target from close range. Then, Curtean with a shot from outside the box, and Mansour with another header test Nuno Claro's skill. Poli's domination continued, but only materialized close to the end of the half, when Cisovsky's long distance shot stretched the goalkeeper quite a bit.

At half time, the feeling was one of frustration, that despite the total domination the ball just wouldn't go in. Indeed, Cluj came out better in the second half and started to get closer to our goal, Deac shooting a hard one that stretches Taborda as well. The goal came after a poor free kick, which hit the wall, but bounced unfortunately in the corner of the keeper's box. Taborda scrambled at Deac's feet, but couldn't retain the ball, which jumped back at the attacker, who, from an almost impossible angle, pushed the ball along the goal line and into the net.

After such a lucky goal, Poli's efforts were marked by despair and up to the end, only few big opportunities occured. The only one to mention is a header from Mansour, which was going towards an empty net, but Cadu, out of nowhere twisted in the air to deflected at the last moment. In the 86th minute, Nuno Claro was shown a second yellow card for misconduct, after just one minute earlier being cautioned for delaying the game. With no substitutes remaining, Cadu had to assume the role of goalkeeper. But even with the numerical advantage, Poli's game was plagued by frustration and despair. Sabău changed very late and without much effect. The opportunities only appeared late into injury time. First, Mansour dashed into the box from the side and shot wide, when a pass was perhaps more reasonable. Alexa managed a shot on goal, but Cadu showed he is a good goalkeeper as well, rising to deflect it. The goal came after the corner - the last of countless that Poli had throught the game. Mansour and a defender jumped for the ball, which, luckily fell back in the box, Alexa heading it into the net, with a few seconds past the 7 minutes of injury time. The referee signaled the end of the game.

Like I said, it's very frustrating to know that Poli played so well, but had to struggle only to get a draw, which in the end doesn't help at all. With 5 points ahead, 6 matches to go, and only Vaslui being the only serious adversary left for Cluj, it seems they are set to win the title. But, in our championship, who knows?

Still, we need to play just as good, as the battle for second place is still very pen, the next match being a decisive one, against Steaua, which is one point ahead. But with a game like this, we can very well imagine a win against them.

Poli: Taborda (6) - Bonfim (5,5), Nibombe (5,5), Cisovsky (5,5), Sepsi (5,5) - Curtean (5,5), Alexa (6,5), Contra (6), Bourceanu (6) - Goga (5), Mansour (6)


Cociş for Goga (min 75)
Magera for Curtean (min 75)
Ionescu for Bourceanu (min 82)


How's Dare been doing?

Dare Vršič was lent this winter to FC Koper in his home country. This proves to have been an excellent move, both for the club, but especially for Dare's career. After his awful injury that kept him away from the pitch for more than a year, he was having a hard time getting back in form and he wasn't able to make the team. That is what lead to his loan.

Well, FC Koper, who've never won a championship in their history, are on first position, way ahead with 11 points from the 2nd placed team with only 6 games to go. Dare Vršič has had a big contribution to this achievement, his stats showing 6 goals and 4 assists in just 8 matches, which is already twice as many as he scored for Poli in 3 years, over 21 matches. The 6 goals started with a whopping 35 meter long shot and has culminated with a hat-trick in the last match, which you can enjoy here. His performance may be due to the position he plays for Koper. They play a rather unusual 4-2-3-1, with Dare on the right side, close to the attacker, so he can be quite offensive.

But still, it's amazing how big a difference there is between what he showed here and what he is showing now. Could it be that he wasn't used right? Is it that Poli's game can never be suited to include Dare Vršič? Perhaps, the answer to this we will find out after the summer, when he should return to Timișoara.

If not even now he can't be useful to the team, then I say that he should be let go wherever he feels best. This move to Koper is great for his career as it gives him hope and belief in himself, that he has recuperated nicely from his injury and that he can play excellent football. Also, this is a great opportunity to have a good return to his national team and become a key player.

Until we meet again, we wish you maximum success, Dare!


Ceahlăul - Poli 0-0 (1-1)

Unfortunately, Poli's game is on a downward slope. Another game with one of the bottom teams, another draw! Slow and uninspired is what best describes it. Despite having the ball most of the time, the players could not find any solutions. More than that, in the first half, it was the other team that had the opportunities.

First, in the 5th minute, Bonfim headed the ball home, but too slow, almost causing a goal as Pantilimon could not retain the ball, and was countered by one of Ceahlău's men. The referee saved us by giving away a foul. Two headers followed. First one in the 19th minute from Mulisa, left unmarked in the middle of the box, but it went over the bar. Nine minutes later a free kick was executed long from the left, Forminte jumped higher than Sepsi and headed the ball to the opposite corner, but Pantilimon easily stretched to retain it. Most of the time, the ball was just passed between our defenders. This could have proved costly, because close to half-time, Mera goofed, and Velkovski intercepted the ball. Fortunately, despite having a clear run for goal, his shot was way off.

After the break, Poli started pushing forward. The first chance occured in the opening minutes of the second half, when Kozak played a free kick deep into the box, but Chiacu's header went wide. Contra's and entrance at half time and Mansour in the 62nd minute animated the game. First, Contra's corner kick was head by the Senegalese, close to the post, but a defender was there to kick it away. Right in the next minute, the same Mansour received a ball on the left side, inside the box, beautifully shot the ball, but it went just wide. Finally, in the 67th minute, a long distance shot was deflected by a defender, but unluckily for him, the ball jumped in front of the goal. Chiacu could only push it into the keeper, but Mansour covered his back and drove it in. It could have been all over in the 85th minute, when Mansour, again, was excellently opened for goal. He was in an offside position, but the referee didn't see it. Perhaps feeling guilty, he tried to chip the ball, but too low... The keeper stopped it.

Ceahlău tried to do something, but wasn't really that dangerous. However, Bourceanu, who came in right after the goal, caused an unnecessary foul, close to the right corner of the box. The ball had a nice curve, that could have easily been held by Pantilimon. Inexplicably, he stretched, but let the ball fall. It hit the bar, and an attacker managed to hit it as best he could. The ball hit the ground, made it through the defenders. Pantilimon was right there, but the ball just hit him and jumped into the net. Ceahlau pressed, carried on by the crowd, but the only big chance was stopped by Cisovsky with an excelent last minute tackle in the box.

Our best players were Mansour, of course, Alexa, as usual, and Cisovsky who has made an excellent comeback, not only being close to perfect in defense, but also contributing to the attack. Perhaps he will be a key player for this championship end. At the other end, besides Pantilimon, who cost us dearly, Bonfim and Mera stand out, each with a serious error, that could have meant a goal against us. Mera made up for it somewhat with some good interventions, but Bonfim was nowhere, despite being everywhere. He often goofed and was inefficient in attack. Our attackers were quite blank, not being helped very much by our poor midfield. Goga was invisible, and Magera did what he could coming down to deliver some balls. Kozak unfortunately does not fit in this scheme, being mostly lost in Poli's no man's land - the center midfield.

Next match is against CFR Cluj, who are current leaders and it will be a crucial match. Fortunately, the 3 points we received recently, have gave us some comfort, but there are some really hard matches ahead of us and we need to gather enough points to remain in a top position. Let's hope the team has enough composure to make most of what's left.

Poli: Pantilimon (4) - Sepsi (5,5), Cisovski (6), Mera (4,5), Bonfim (4) - Cocis (5), Alexa (6), Kozak (5,5), Chiacu (5) - Magera (5,5), Goga (5)


Contra (5,5) for Cociș (min 45)
Mansour (6) for Kozak (min 62)
Bourceanu (5) for Chiacu (min 67)


Rapid - Poli 0-3 after extra debate

This is something that's been brewing ever since the match, lost 0-1 by Poli on the pitch. However, Rapid had used two players - Varga and Bălan - that had just been acquired in a last minute dubious transfer.

The story is like this. The two players are owned by Șiman, owner of Sportul Studențesc in the second league. Waiting for a booming offer, perhaps from a European club, he had delayed selling them for the past 2 years or so. Instead, he waited until the last moment, and finally loaned them to some club or the other for half a season at a time. That is how Unirea Urziceni won last year's championship, borrowing the two for the second part of the season. Then, for the first half of this season, Șiman, for lack of a better option, lent them again to Urziceni, barely before their Champions League stint.

During the break, the players were allowed to train with Urziceni, while Șiman awaited a good offer. The championship had already started, 2 stages had been played, and the transfer period was already over. At least for the first league that is. Determined to acquire the players, Rapid's owner Copos, perhaps more wicked in his ways than Șiman, had struck a deal with him.

So, in order to complete the transfer they looked for a hole in the rules and indeed they found one. For the lower leagues, the transfer period had not ended yet. So, Rapid created another team - Rapid 3 - as they already had a Rapid 2, which they registered to play in Romania's fourth League. Now, since this was still mid-season, you might think that this would be impossible or absurd. But, the administration of the league - AMFB (the meaning of the acronym is not important), decided that since a team had withdrawn from the competition, it was OK to include Rapid 3 in its place, and play semi-official games (whatever that means - I have no idea).

Of course, Rapid had no intention for this team to play any games. It was created just so that it could transfer the two players. And since the rules say that players from any subordinate team of a club can play in its main team, Rapid could use Varga and Bălan from its third team. This is a good rule as it is meant to encourage clubs to use young players from the second team in its main team. Seems that some have found new uses.

Anyway, it all sounds and is very dubious, but allowed by the Romania's rulebooks. But Rapid hadn't followed through in legal terms, probably in the hassle of the transfer, which happened right before the match against Poli. The fourth league, as I said, is under the administration of AMFB, which is subordinate to the Romanian Football Federation. But the first league is watched over and organized by LPF. So for players to play in the first league, they have to be approved by LPF. However, if AMFB aproves the players to play in their league, then LPF automatically gives them the right to play in the first league, but the procedure must be followed.

Now, after weeks of ping-pong passing the matter around, without much deliberation, it has been decided that the players did not have the right to play from LPF on the day of the match. Rapid had some notice from LPF, but was given on the 4th of March. Rapid 3 was created on the 5th, right on the day of the match. So it is clear that the notice given by LPF was invalid, has the players didn't even belong to a team, has it had not been created yet! Why LPF had given the allowance, I have no idea.

So that's it and that is why Rapid has forfeited the match, by using two players that did not have the right to play. Of course, there is the matter of morality here, that we have won 3 points that we lost on the pitch, but rules are rules and we can't break them over and over again and close our eyes when it happens. Sure, Rapid is to be blamed for trying such trickery, but there is also a bigger and more important guilt here. It's amazing that the rules are so that it can lead to such complicated issues. And also there are some facts, allowed by the governing bodies, that are plain to everybody just wrong: the transfer periods end differently among the leagues, you can make-up a team on the spot, even it has just two players, you can join a championship mid-season, LPF gives invalid decisions, and so on.

But that is a too big issue to be resolved in an instant and without proper support and it evades our subject here: Poli Timișoara. For us, this means that we jump back to second place, three points behind CFR Cluj. Next match is against Ceahlau, and a win there will mean that the home match against CFR next week will be extremely important for the championship title. Let's see how we manage this given.


Poli - Inter Curtea de Argeş 0:0

With a 3-0 win on Inter's turf, before the match against a team currently on a relegation spot, everybody was thinking: "Will they score 6 again?" But instead we got one of the most pitiful matches seen in a long time.

The starting line-up was standard as far as the players go. But the actual displacement was a bit wierd with Parks and Goga being pulled down on the flanks, right and left, respectively. This match was also the debut for Cociș under the violet colours, in attack, alongside Magera, surprisingly as everybody, even Sabău, said that he would most likely cover the left flank. And it wasn't a spectacular debut, showing that he is not in touch with the team, struggling to find his place on the field, and his teammates.

It is difficult to say which team was clumsier, but at least that says much about Poli's performance. In the first half there were only two really good opportunities. First a free-kick from Goga, deflected with the head by Parks, but over the bar. Second, Bonfim showed his skill on the right side, outsmarting his opponents, got a good run down the goal line, but instead of finding a free teammate in front of goal, decided to shoot from a closed angle, of course, hitting the goalkeeper once, and again on the rebound.

The team was barely creating anything, as the two defensive midfielders were way too low, and the attackers didn't bother to come down to receive the ball, leaving a big gap in the middle. Sabău acted at half time, introducing Ionescu in place of Parks. But the hostilities were delayed for the last 20 minutes, when the game got more aggitated. Until then, the visitors got more courageous, and their passes started to connect, taking advantage of the free spaces in our defense. This lead to the biggest chance of the match, when an attacker was found well by a cross, but his diving shot met the bar!

Poli retaliated with a good shot from Ionescu, but deflected by the keeper, ex-Poli player Marius Popa. Mansour, who came in for the last 10 minutes of the game, quickened the game, leading to more action in the box, but he couldn't connect with ball after a cross from Kozak in front of the goal and the score remained a disappointing 0-0.

Few players are worthy to be mentioned. Perhaps the best was Alexa who showed good ambition, making some good tackles upfield and giving good passes to his teammates, but his efforts for construction weren't enough. The three substitutes lightened up the game a bit. Ionescu, besides the shot had a great opening for Goga, but the latter was on a terrible day. More than once he couldn't get past his opponents, proving once and for all that he is not a replacement for Gigel Bucur.

All is not lost, but we have to change this situation because we are terribly close to losing the top spots, and a few more lost points could prove fatal. If we cannot beat the big teams, we should at least prove ourselves against the small ones.

Poli: Pantilimon (5,5) - Bonfim (5,5), Mera (5,5), Luchin (5,5), Sepsi (5,5) - Parks (5), Alexa (6), Bourceanu (5), Goga (4,5) - Magera (4,5), Cociş (4,5)


Ionescu (5,5) for Parks (min 45)
Kozak (5) for Cociş (min 66)
Mansour for Bourceanu (min 82)


Universitatea Craiova - Poli 1:2 (1:1)

Another tough stage for Poli at Drobeta Turnu-Severin, where Universitatea Craiova has found the love of new fans that filled the 20,000 seats of the stadium on a sunny Saturday before Easter. Seeing that all rivals had easy matches, against small teams that didn't even bother to trouble them, Poli had the toughest match of the day, which could have gone either way, with us struggling to keep in touch with the top positions, and Craiova clinging on every point to avoid relegation.

First ones to test their luck were the home team, with ex-Poli player Bălace trying a shot from outside the box, which brought out Pantilimon's first strech, despite the ball going safely wide. In the 7th minute though, Parks scrambled from the half-way line towards a long ball, found himself one on one with the goalkeeper, but decided to pass it left, avoid a last moment tackle, and Goga pushed it into the empty net.

Poli then went on to control the game, Chițu testing his luck in the 17th minute, with a 20m shot off the rebound, but it goes a little over the bar. With a good pressing and sturdy defense, they managed to keep Craiova out of the box till about the half-hour mark. The home team could only try long shots, like the one in the 17th minute, when Mera's clearance unfortunately meets an opponent. His diagonal shot from 25m left of the goal is retained by Pantilimon, with a bit of effort, but it's in his hands nevertheless.

Our reluctance, gave Craiova the courage to push forward, noticing a weakness on our right flank, where Luchin was constantly surpassed and not being helped by the midfielders. First, a cross meets Pițurcă's header, who had just blazingly taken Nibombe's face, but luckily the ball zooms over the crossbar. In the 32nd minute, a free kick is executed shortly, taking us by surprise, a dash down the sideline, a cross on the near post, a back heel from Ilyev, from between Magera and Nibombe, and not even Pantilimon's touch could stop the ball from going in. A bit more attention on our side and perhaps this goal would never have been. Craiova was certainly on a roll, becuse 5 minutes later, the defense was once again too slow for a long ball, but Pantilimon jumped on the ball, after slipping, right at the opponent's feet. The end of the half, however, found Poli in attack, with the biggest chance coming in the 40th minute, when Kozak's free kick, was headed by Nibombe, the keeper cand only block it, but the same Nibombe, on the rebound, can only blast it over the bar, with the empty goal in front of him.

The second half began with Luchin's substitution for Bonfim, whose speed changed the game both defensively and offensively. Poli dominated the most part, but Craiova was dangerous on the counter-attack. First big chance cam in the 55th minute when Kozak opens up Parks on the right, the Costarican fends off two opponents, sees Alexa on the edge of the box. His shot is blocked but bounds to Magera, who finds himself alone with the keeper, but can only target him with the ball.

Craiova first raises its head in the 65th minute with a 30m powerful shot by Costea, but it's right on the middle, and Pantilimon blocks it. Right afterwards, an incursion on the left, down the goal line, ends with a strange high, backwards cross. But it is followed well and finalized with a back volley. Pantilimon is once again attentive and stretches to take hold of the ball. A very big opportunity, that could have sealed a victory for Craiova took place in the 85th minute. Another counter, another reluctant dash on the right, the cross is pushed forward by Pantilimon, but because the attacker has to come back and get the ball, Pantilimon has just enough time to get back on his feet and block the shot. And as fortune would have it, in the last minute of the game, Craiova's keeper handles Sepsi's cross in the same way, but Magera is right on the spot to volley the ball between two defenders and into the net, bringing 3 golden points home.

It's hard to say something after such a match. We can only repeat ourselves about how Poli plays at the moment, and in the end what's important is the 3 points, and the fact that we are still in a good position, with 2 easy games ahead next week. Among our players, Parks was among the best, being a thorn in the opponents' defense and showing that he plays better as servant. Magera had good and bad moments, scoring the winning goal, but also having a terrible miss. As was Nibombe, at times being surpassed, but at other times being the decisive man in defense. Kozak was sometimes in the game, opening up the play slightly, but for periods of time you couldn't tell he was on the pitch. His crosses were on a bad day as well. Wether he has not yet sinked in with the team or not, it is too early to say. Finally, Mejia, who came in quite early, in the 67th minute, was almost invisible and totally unimpressive when he had the ball.

So let us saviour this win, and wish everybody a happy Easter!

Poli: Pantilimon (6) - Luchin (5), Mera (5,5), Nibombe (5,5), Sepsi (6,5) - Goga (5,5), Alexa (6), Kozak (5), Chiţu (5) - Parks (6), Magera (6)


Bonfim (5,5) for Luchin (min 45)
Mejia (5) for Chiţu (min 67)
Contra for Kozak (min 77)