Poland II Division

Poland. Shared 19-20 position with Switzerland, but actually climbed a bit up, for the country was ranked 21st in the previous year. Rules: 2 points for a win, but extra 1 point awarded for a win by 3 or more goals and 1 point deducted for a loss by 3 or more goals. The last 2 teams in the First Division – directly relegated. The winners of each group of Second Division – directly promoted. Second-placed teams in each Second Division group went to promotion/relegation play-off against the 13th and 14th teams in the top league. The top leagues were going to be reduced in the next season – First Division from 16 to 14 teams, but this seemingly was abandoned by the end of the championship – otherwise the last 4 should have been relegated and the 11th and 12th teams going to relegation/promotion play-offs. Second Division was going to be a single league of 18 teams, so massive relegation happened this season: the last 8 teams in each Second Division group were directly relegated and those at 7th and 8th places went to promotion/relegation play-offs. However, the original rule was changed by the end of the season and those which finished 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th went to promotion/relegation play-offs. Such play-offs were no longer to be played – in 1989-90 the last 2 in the top league were going to be directly relegated; the top 2 in the Second Division – directly promoted, and the last 4 in the Second Division – directly relegated.
Second Division Group A.
Sleza (Wroclaw) finished last – 18th with 14 points.
One former top- league club was among the massive group of relegated teams: Arka (Gdynia). Their city rivals Baltyk had also to be directly relegated, but the modification of the rules gave them a chance to survive: Baltyk finished 10th, went to promotion/relegation play-off against Third Division Garbarnia (Krakow) and won it 1-0 and 0-0. The rest of the promotion/relegation play-offs also went in favour of the current Second Division teams, except one. Stilon (Gorzow, 9th) won over Bug (Wyszkow) 0-0 and 6-2, Odra (Wodzislaw, 8th) – Elana (Torun) 2-0 and 2-1, and Piast (Nowa Ruda, 7th) lost without losing to Stal (Stocznia Szczecin) – 2-2 and 1-1, the away-goal rule benefited the Third Division candidate and Piast was relegated.
Teams above 7th place were safe – Moto Jelcz (Olawa, 6th), Polonia (Bytom, 5th), Zaglebie (Walbrzych, 4th), and Gwardia (Warszawa, 3rd).
Zawisza (Bydgoszcz) finished 2nd with 45 points and went to promotion/relegation play-off against GKS (Jastrzebie), the 14th in the First Division. Zawisza managed a 0-0 tie away and at home won 2-0 – and was happily promoted to First Division.
Zaglebie (Lubin) was the group winner with 53 points: 21 wins (6 wins with 3 or more goals, giving an extra point), 5 ties, 4 losses, 60-19 goal-difference. Confident winners, directly promoted to top flight – actually, returning to top flight.
Group B.
Stomil (Olsztyn) – finished 11th and was relegated.
Lechia (Gdansk) – from playing Europe from few years ago to… facing Third Division now. They finished 10th , but luckily won the promotion/relegation play-off against Wlokniarz (Pabianice) 4-1 and 0-1.
Others were not so lucky: GKS (Belchatow, 9th) lost to Siarka (Tarnobrzeg) 1-1 and 1-2 was relegated. The same was the fate of Gornik (Knurow, 8th) – they lost to Miedz (Legnica) 1-2 and 1-0. Curiously, both matches were won by the visitors and Miedz prevailed on away-goal rule. Resovia (Rzeszow, 7th) survived – they won over GKS (Tychy) 3-2 and 1-0. GKS (Tychy) had great time about 15 years ago, but now were struggling in Third Division and had to stay there.
Iglopool (Debica) remained in Second Division – they finished 6th. Top row from left: Drobot, Zieliński, Śliwa, Kotowicz, Garlej. Forth row: Gierałka, Nalepka, Romaniuk, Stefanik, Strojek. Third row: Hadam, Zieliński, Mysiak, Adamczyk, Bajor. Second row: Makuch, Szary, Siarkiewicz, Litke, Antolak, Zub. Sitting: Czapiński, Gajoch, Kucharski, Kłak, Cebula, Kaczówka, Tylak.
Stal (Rzeszow) ended 5th, Stal (Stalowa Wola) – 4th, and Hutnik (Krakow) – 3rd also were going to play in the new Second Division.
Motor (Lublin) finished 2nd with 42 points. Like Zawisza from Group A, they won their promotion/relegation play-off against the 13th in the First Division, Pogon (Szczecin) 2-3 and 2-0 and were happily promoted to the top league.
Zaglebie (Sosnowiec) won the championship with 47 points: 18 wins (5 of them with 3 or more goals), 6 ties, 6 losses, 45-13 goal-difference. Excellent defensive record and confident victory – like their namesake in Group A, Zaglebie (Sosnowiec) were returning to the top league.

Bulgaria the Cup

The Cups. They were three this year… the old Soviet Army Cup still existed, the Bulgarian National Cup, and newly introduced Supercup – every European country introduced such trophy in the 1980s and Bulgaria followed the fashion: in theory, the the trophy was to be the great clash between the champion and the Cup winner – but, just like the international European Supercup, the national Supercups never attracted great interest and importance. So, such competitions are and will be rarely, if at all, mentioned – the Bulgarian Supercup perhaps will not be mentioned again: the reason it is mentioned now is only because the trophy was created and introduced this season. Apart from that, the narrative is really about CFKA Sredetz – for they won everything this time.
The Soviet Army Cup. Lost its importance years ago, but it was still played. Many clubs were clearly disinterested, which in turn further reduced public interest in the already meaningless trophy. It would be quite correct to say that if a big club for whatever reason wished to win it, it was theirs. Martitza-Iztok (Radnevo) and CFKA Sredetz reached the final this season – Stoichkov, Kostadinov, and Trifon Ivanov against Third Division team. A mid-table Third Division team… they finished 12th in their 18-team South-Eastern Group of the Third Division. What contest? CFKA Seredetz won 6-1. Stoichkov scored 2 goals and Georgy Georgiev 4.

CFKA Sredetz won its 12th Soviet Army Cup. It was just statistics at this point. Sitting from left: Stefan Bachev, Nedyalko Mladenov, Christo Stoichkov, Lachezar Tanev, Krassimir Bezinski, Emil Kostadinov. Middle row: Nikolay Chervenyakov – doctor, Iliya Valov, Doncho Donev, Ivaylo Kirov, Trifon Ivanov, Kiril Kachamanov, Roumen Stoyanov, Roumen Apostolov, Aleksander Aleksandrov – rehabilitation, Spiridon Bachev – rehabilitation. Top row: Stoil Trankov – assistant coach, Petar Vitanov, Georgy Georgiev, Dimitar Penev – coach, Kostadin Yanchev, Iliya Dyakov, Petar Zhekov – assistant coach.
The Bulgarian Cup final also looked decided in advance: CFKA Sredetz vs Chernomoretz (Bourgas). Chernomoretz had a great run reaching the final – they eliminated Sliven, Vratza, and Vitosha – but they were also a Second Division, which even did not win that championship. CFKA Sredetz won 3-0.
Standing from left: St. Trankov – assistant coach, R. Apostolov, G. Georgiev, R. Stoyanov, D. Donev, D. Penev – coach, I. Kirov, St. Bachev, K. Kachamanov, P. Vitanov. I. Valov. P. Zhekov – assistant coach. Sitting: Kr. Bezinski, K. Yanchev, Tr. Ivanov, Plamen Getov, N. Mladenov, Chr. Stoichkov, L. Tanev, Em. Kostadinov, Lyuboslav Penev.
Third consecutive Bulgarian Cup and – at the time – 5th altogether. The Cup won in 1985 did not count, because the Communist Party voided this final and stripped the record. Anyhow, CFKA Sredetz was leading in this competition – the arch-enemy Vitosha had 3 Cups – but already it was clear that both the Soviet Army Cup and the Bulgarian Cup will be amalgamated and in the combined record the Army was behind Vitosha.
The brand new Supercup had to be played between the champions and the national Cup winner. Since CFKA Sredetz won both trophies the first Supercup final was a repeat of the Bulgarian Cup final – Chernomoretz again faced CFKA Sredetz. The match was played in Bourgas, Chernomoretz’s home turf and that plus the date – July 15th – perhaps explains why CFKA won minimally: just 1-0. the goal scored by Stoichkov in the 17th minute.
In the middle of July transfers already took place, so the finalists played with their 1989-90 teams, not 1988-89 squads. Thus, the difference – the new recruits are here and played in this final: A. Dimitrov, M. Bakalov, D, Mladenov, M. Urukov, and E. Dimitrov.
Crouching from left: Aleksandar Aleleksandrov – masseur, Anton Dimitrov, Marin Bakalov, Doncho Donev, Stefan Bachev, Ivaylo Kirov, Trifon Ivanov, Lyuboslav Penev – captain, Christo Stoichkov. Standing: Aleksandar Cherbenyakov – doctor, Stoil Trankov – assistant coach, Marius Urukov, Petar Vitanov, Dobry Dimov – superintendant, Kostadin Yanchev, Roumen Apostolov, Emil Dimitrov, Dimitar Mladenov, Petar Zheov – assistant coach, Emil Kostadinov, Iliya Valov, Dimitar Penev – coach.
CFKA Sredetz won every trophy this season – a quadruple winner, which instantly madse them the most successful squad in Bulgarian history. Even earlier great CSKA squads never won more than a double – but there were only 2 trophies before 1981 and 3 before this season, so no matter how good this team was, it was also lucky to have so many trophies available.

Bulgaria I Division

First Division. In a nut shell – CFKA Sredetz, reinforced with 4 national team players, had no rival and entirely dominated the season. There was one pleasant ascend and one accidental good performance. The rest… nothing new, really.
Minyor (Pernik) finished last with 22 points and was relegated. Happened many before… this is rather the squad for season 1989-90, but essentially it was no different from the one in 1988-89. Sitting from left: Emil Serafimov, Roumen Andonov, Aleksandar Aleksandrov, Bogomil Savov, Slavcho Pavlov, Valentin Lazarov, Metody Tomanov.
Middle row: Bogomil Pushev – coach, Ivo Slavchev, Stoyan Petrov, Ivan Aleksiev, Grigor Grigorov, Vercho Mitov, Plamen Petkov, Petar Stefanov – assistant coach.
Top row: Tzetzko Ignatov – doctor, Anton Genadiev, Ivo Stanimirov, Vihar Petrov – organizer, Petar Petrov, Krassimir Dossev, Christo Trifonov – masseur.
Judging by the names, one would wonder why they were relegated – there were experienced well established names (Grigorov, Serafimov, Tomanov, Dossev, Aleksandrov), there was rather bright young talent (Savov, Slavcho Pavlov, Ivo Slavchev). May be that why… disinterest. The established players used to play for the big Sofia clubs before and now, even if not too old, they had no real motivation. The youngsters were looking for bigger club – the close proximity to Sofia was practically the curse for Minyor. And down they went once again.
Spartak (Varna) – 15th with 23 points. Still having Krassimir Zafirov between the goalposts – his longevity was admirable, but also indicated the club’s major problem: no new talent emerged from their youth system for a long time and the club depended on discarded players from Sofia’s clubs. They were beyond their prime and already aging, so at best their presence was temporary remedy. Once their number dwindled to practically none… Spartak plunged down. Zafirov was 38 without a back-up. Dimitar Diev, who came a few years back from Slavia – without making a name for himself there – was already 30.
Lokomotiv (Plovdiv) – 14th with 26 points. Sitting from left: Dantor Damyanov – masseur, Roumen Dimitrov, Georgy Dimitrov, Valentin Valchev, Stefan Draganov, Ivan Marinov, Mikhail Yumerski, Georgy Karushev, Belev – doctor.
Middle row: Tchavdar Muratov – assistant coach, Milushev, Vassil Vassilev, Plamen Krastev, Yordan Gevezov, Roumen Spassov, Petar Pashev, Kostadin Vidolov, Trifonov, M. Minchev, Mikhail Georgiev – coach.
Top row: Yanko Kushev, Yulian Dzhevizov, Vessko Lazarov, Stefan Lulchev, Boby Ivanov, Rady Raykovski, Yavor Illiev, Dimitar Radev, Dimitar Kekhayov.
So far, Lokomotiv was unable to build meaningful and reliable team. Yes, they produced plenty of young talent, but it was a weird combination of cluster of old great players and babies, without middle generation. Now even not enough established older stars remained – only Ivan Marinov in defense, so a veteran was recruited – missing on the photo is Nikolay Arabov. Long time national team central defender, who spent his career with Sliven. At 34 years, he was suddenly recruited to help Lokomotiv – and left after this season. Well, the most such a team could do is escaping relegation and they achieved that.
Vratza (Botev Vratza) – 13th with 26 points. Sitting from left: Nikolay Ivanov, Boris Strashimirov, Boyko Kraev, Yulian Emilov, Ventzislav Bozhilov, Iliya Voynov, Venelin Nikolov. Middle row: A. Tzenov – assistant coach, Iliya Kamenov, Ivan Radoslavov, Todor Garev, Lyudmil Tzvetkov, Tzvetan Petrov, Roumen Vidov, Petar Kamenov – coach. Top row: K. Kostov – rehabilitation, Valery Tzvetanov, Radoslav Petkov,Georgy Bogdanov, Emil Marinov, S. Mironov – doctor.
The painfully slow decline continiud – perhaps the mistake of Vratza was to fill up gaps because of departing or retiring players instead of radically rebuilding their team – the result was experienced, but gradually weaker squad.
Lokomotiv (Gorna Oryakhovitza) – 12th with 26 points. Modest club – just staying in the league was great and they managed that somehow against the odds. The team depended on players discarded by the big Sofia clubs and the club from their regional capital, Etar (Veliko Tirnovo) – so far, the formula worked well. Yes, they lost the rising star Boncho Gentchev, who joined Etar, but the veteran Christo Mikhailov arrived from Etar and also from Sofia – Iliya Velichkov from Slavia and Aleksandar Chavdarov from CFKA Sredetz. So far – so good.
Slavia (Sofia) – 11th with 26 points. Sitting from left: Valery Grekov, Ognyan Radev, Tzvetan Mitev, Petar Aleksandrov, Plamen Simeonov, Petar Bozhkov, Pavlin Dimitrov. Middle row: Andrey Zhelyazkov – playing coach, Aleksandar Markov, Miroslav Mironov, Ivan Khaydarliev, Ivaylo Venkov, Kiril Netzov, Tchavdar Tzvetkov – assistant coach. Top row: Mario Kalpushkov, Plamen Tachev, Petar Karadeliev, Georgy Karamanov, Yordan Kostov, Antonio Ananiev.
Somehow Slavia was unable to make really reliable team and struggled once again – despite having national team players (Aleksandrov, Simeonov, Markov, Ananiev) and a good number of solid and well respected players (Khaydarliev, Mironov, Grekov, Dimitrov, Kostov). Then again – it was Slavia, traditionally moody and predictable team, capable of great highs and lows in the same time.
Sliven (Sliven) – 10th with 27 points. Their usual. They lost the great veteran defender Arabov, but Yordan Letchkov was moving up.
Pirin (Blagoevgrad) – 9th with 27 points. Top row from left: Kiril Stoykov, Petar Mikhtarski, ?, Petar Tzvetkov, Venko Popov, Ivaylo Panchev, Ivo Ivanikov. Middle row: Boris Nikolov – coach, Ventzislav Dinev, Ivan Georgiev, Kostadin Trendafilov, Ivaylo Andonov, Roumen Chakarov, Slavcho Moraliev – assistant coach. Front row: Yordan Bozdanski, Nikolay Petrunov, Ivan Lardev, Roumen Stoychev, Valentin Dartilov, Rossen Pashov.
Mid-table position – looked like finally Pirin managed to stabilize a reliable team. It was local – from coach to players, all were products of the club. The team got the experience the players lacked a few years back and the only problem for the future was traditional one – Pirin was certainly going to lose its rapidly rising stars Mikhtarski, Andonov and Dartilov.
Lokomotiv (Sofia) – 8th with 28 points. Sitting: Pavel Dochev, Plamen Nikolov, Dimitar Vassev, Kiril Metkov, Borislav Manolkov, Georgy Illiev, Vladko Shalamanov, Slavcho Panov, Christo Zlatinov. Middle row: Ivaylo Georgiev – assistant coach, Martin Doychev (?), Stoycho Stoev, Yulian Nakov (?), Atanas Mikhailov – coach, Georgy Christov, Anton Velkov, Aleksandar Dudov, Ventzislav Arssov – assistant coach. Top row: Borimechkov, Nikolay Todorov, Aleksandar Bonchev, Krassimir Nakov, Gosho Petkov, Marin Illiev, Antonio Zdravkov, Plamen Todorov.
The squad coached by the club’s legend Nachko Mikhailov should have been among the 3-4 top teams, judging by the names, but it was Lokomotiv – somewhat mellow team, not bothered by mid-table position. Perhaps the squad was still too young and row for more.
Cherno more (Varna) – 7th with 30 points. Sitting from left: Tinko Vazharov, Boyan Christov, Kalin Topuzakov, Milen Bakardzhiev, Nikola Nikolov, Todor Marev, Y. Ivanov. Middle row: Nayden Naydenov, Todor Atanassov, N. Kapanzirev – doctor, Bozhil Kolev – coach, Trendafil Vassilev – assistant coach, Dimitar Vanikov – masseur, Yulian Christov, Christo Kotev. Third row: Yulian Garev, Valery Karov, Georgy Kostov, Yordan Fillipov, Kostadin Kostadinov, Georgy Stoychev, Krassimir Lechev.
Just returning from Second Division exile, so the season was rather good. But their coach Bozhil Kolve bitterly complained the lack of professionalism – he wanted to introduce modern West German training methods and was practically opposed by both his players and the club as whole. One cannot teach old dog new tricks… the core of the team played together for many years, they were even teammates with Kolev a few years back, and there was no way oldish players were going to change their habits. And Cherno more was not strong enough club to recruit a new team of players suitable to Kolev’s ideas and demands… the goalkeeping was points in case: Kostov was hardly a reliable keeper, so two veterans had to be employed – the ‘eternal’ Yordan Fillipov (now going on 43!), who was playing for CSKA even before Bozhil Kolev joined the club in 1970 and both were teammates in the national team for many years as well, and Kostadin Kostadinov (now 32), who back in mid-1970s was Junior national team player, but never established himself in the First Division, spending most of his career playing for obscure Second Division teams – now he was recruited seemingly out of desperation as a third keeper of Cherno more. The season was satisfying, but there was no future and Bozhil Kolev left after the season to work abroad.
Dunav (Rousse) – 6th with 31 points. Sitting from left: Diyan Angelov, Rossen Sabotinov, Sasho Todorov, Yordan Dimitrov, Valery Kulinov, Krassimir Kolev, Nasko Borissov, Levent Bayraktarov. Standing: Tikhomir Dimitrov, Iliya Kirchev, Mikhail Stoyanov, Dragomir Enchev, Petar Voynov, Nikolay Boyanov – captain, Borislav Bogomilov, Krassimir Nakov, Kiril Kirilov.
The other newcomer did a bit better than Cherno more. Like Cherno more, Dunav was only returning to First Division, but unlike Cherno more they were shaky for a long time and continued to be so. Their earlier attempts to reestablish themselves in the top league during the 1980s failed miserably – they were almost immediately relegated back to Second Division. From this perspective, this time they did exceptionally well. But their position was also misleading – it was largely accidental, the team was still ill-shaped, shaky and, frankly, nothing much. Recruiting good players apparently was impossible. On top of if the team photo presents typical problem with summer team pictures – taken between seasons, they represent neither the old season, nor the new. Some players left and were with Dunav in 1988-89, others did not arrive yet and are missing in the photo. The new recruits were hardly better than those who departed – rather third-rate players without much of a future; rather hastily recruited from whoever was available and only to temporary fill gaps. Dunav ceratinly was weak and without much future.
Beroe (Stara Zagora) – 5th with 33 points. Beroe distinguished itself with a second interesting ‘first’ – almost 10 years back theirs was the first transfer to professional club in the West: one of the best all-time scorers of Bulgaria, Petko Petkov, was transferred to Austria (Wien). Now he was coaching Beroe and exports were not a news at all, but Beroe’s transfer of their long-time captain Tenyo Minchev was also special and first of its kind: he went to Krylya Sovetov (Kyubyshev, today Samara) – the first foreign player imported to play professionally in the USSR.
Trakia (Botev Plovdiv) – 4th with 33 points. Ahead of Beroe on better goal-difference, but the wonderful team aged without actually fulfilling their great potential. Trakia aged as a team and the players were getting tired of season after season without success and were looking for other options – either to go abroad, or to move to a club where they would actually won a trophy. Georgy Georgiev moved CFKA Sredetz before this season and was followed by Bakalov and Mladenov after the end of the season. Kostadinov, Pashev, and Pekhlivanov were going to play abroad. The key stars, all of them national team players, were leaving and the well was drying out – Trakia depended largely on their great youth system, for years new talent was coming from it, all stars were home product – but now there little coming from their own system… no great promising youngster was moved to the first team this year, Boris Khvoynev and Todor Zaytzev were the last homegrown talents, but they were included in the men’s team earlier. Even the days of their goalkeeper Dimitar Vichev were numbered – he was already 37 years old – and his long-time back-up Milan Karatanchev was 30 years old. Trakia was coming to the terrible point of having to start a new team from scratch.
Etar (Veliko Tirnovo) finished 3rd with 34 points. If there was a bright team in Bulgaria this season, it was Etar. First of all – their coach. Georgy Vassilev was noticed already and even was assistant-coach of the national team at the 1986 World Cup, but with time his work was only getting better. Of course, having great local talent helped him, but he built a good team which was going up.
Etar really deserves a second picture – this one after receiving the bronze medals. Now it will be clear why they were ascending. Crouching from left: Nikolay Donev, Savcho Vassilev, Tzanko Tzvetanov, Krassimir Balakov, Georgy Georgiev, Emil Statev – masseur, Illian Kiryakov, Boncho Gentchev, Miroslav Baychev, Mincho Minchev. Standing: Tosho Krastev – vice-chairman of the club, Aleksandar Toshev, Georgy Vassilev – coach, Branimir Mateev, Petyo Rashev, Tzvetomir Parvanov, Sasho Khristov, Preslav Getov, Angel Velev, Georgy Popivanov, Kalin Bankov, Stoyan Petrov – assistant coach, Atanas Katarov – video-operator, Stefan Donev – doctor, Ivan Angelov – administrator. The team captain Emil Dimitrov is missing.
Well.. Balakov, Kiryakov, Tzvetanov, Gentchev – the great heroes of the 1994 World Cup. Balakov and Kiryakov already played for the national team. Gentchev was just recruited from Lokomotiv (Gorna Oryakhovitza). Tzanko Tzvetanov debuted this season. Trifon Ivanov joined CFKA Sredetz before the beginning of the season, but he was replaced by Kalin Bankov, who was somewhat shaky and thus let go by Vitosha (Sofia), but flourished in Etar and was included in the national team. The right fullback and team captain Emil Dimitrov was also included in the national team this season. And the goalkeeper Nikolay Donev, who was national team player when he played for Lokomotiv (Sofia), was still a national team material. A relatively small provincial club like Etar had little muscle, so making a great team depended largely on coach’s vision – Georgy Vassilev excelled in that: his team was a combination homegrown talent (Balakov, Kiryakov, Tzvetanov, Trifon Ivanov before his move to CFKA Sredetz), talent from the region (Gentchev, Mateev), good players discarded by the big Sofia clubs, largely because of too much competion (Donev, Bankov, Baychev), and unknown promissing players from lower leagues (Preslav Getov). The trick was to balance somehow almost inevitable exodus of talent with reliable newcomers: the loss of Trifon Ivanov was compensated by the arrival of Kalin Bankov, for instance. Emil Dimitrov was also going to play for CFKA Sredetz after this season, so the difficult task of Vassilev was to find worthy replacements, for the fate of any smallish provincial club was well known: the big clubs were going to take their stars very quickly. So far, Vassilev showed great ability to get the right players – Nikolay Donev and Kalin Bankov had tough time in the their former clubs, Lokomotiv Sofia and Vitosha (Levski) Sofia, because of too much competition, but they were good and ambitious players, wnating to prove themselves, rather than just going through the motions and satisfied with sitting on the bench – Etar gave them the chance to play regularly and they took the opportunity seriously. No wonder Bankov, who stayed often on the bench during his years with Vitosha, reached the national team with Etar. For Boncho Gentchev on the other hand, moving to Etar was a step up – he played for the smaller club from the same region, Lokomotiv Gorna Oryakhovitza, which was limiting. Etar was bigger and stronger club than Lokomotiv, providing better opportunity for development. Coach and team were rising together – Vassilev became the best Bulgarian coach of the 1990s and no need to say more for Balakov, Tzvetanov, Kiryakov, and Gentchev in the next decade – they became international stars. And Etar was going to achieve more than bronze medals soon.
Vitosha (Levski Sofia) ended 2nd with 39 points. A very disappointing season… Sitting from left: Nikolay Iliev, Krassimir Koev, Sasho Nachev, Plamen Nikolov, Stoil Georgiev, Vassil Dragolov, Dinko Gospodinov. Middle row: Dobromir Zhechev – coach, Bozhidar Iskrenov, Georgy Donkov, Rossen Krumov, Georgy Yordanov, Velko Yotov, Yordan Murlev, Georfy Tzvetkov – assistant coach. Top row: Borislav Mikhailov, Dimitar Markov, Emil Velev, Kiril Vangelov, Petar Petrov, Georgy Slavchev, Vlado Delchev.
What went wrong? Only Nikolay Iliev shined this season, a lone soldier.. and as a lone soldier, who could not do everything, defending, organizing attacks, and finishing them. At moments, he showed his frustration from the indifference of his teammates. What went wrong… well, Levski traditionally had a low season after a great one. Unfortunately, nothing new about having a stinking season after winning a title. Tradition is tradition, but… the great coach Vassil Metodiev was replaced for some reason with Dobromir Zhechev and Nasko Sirakov was sold to Real (Zaragoza). Perhaps Zhechev failed to motivate his players, used to different methods and authority – Metodiev was capable to reach to moody and not very disciplined players like Iskrenov. Zhechev perhaps lacked the magical touch of Metodiev, especially in time when all stars had their minds on going to play in the West. Yet, it was Zhechev year earlier who introduced and believed in young brooms, still teenagers, Mikhailov, Iskrenov, Velev. The ‘golden generation’ had everything to thank to Zhechev and paid him back… Traditionally, the strength of Levski was homegrown talent – Zhechev restored that and in the 1980s Levski introduced new talented youngsters year after year – the team was mostly homegron this season too, the youth system steadily produced talent, so the problem was largely lack of experience, character, and leadership – unlike Mikhailov, Velev, Sirakov, Iskrenov, Iliev, Koev, who showed strong will, even arrogance, from start, Georgiev, Donkov, Krumov, Nachev, Slavchev were rather soft and spineless. New recruits from elsewhere were somehow not the right players – Vassil Dragolov, although a national team for some time, did shine in Levski like he did playing for Beroe. Yordan Murlev was perhaps a big mistake – he came from CFKA Sredetz, where he played a bit in the precious year, did not satisfy anyone and was let go. Exactly the same happened in Vitosha and his first year was also his last. True, he was expected to be a starter, but only a backup for Nikolay Iliev, yet so invisible was his recent presence, that the fans, always very sensitive and hostile to players coming from the camp of the arch-enemy, did not even boo him. So, the newcomers were not the players to get the leading role – and in the same time the old leaders were leaving for certain: Mikhailov, Nikolov, Petrov, Iliev, Iskrenov, Yordanov, Velev – the national team regulars and the key stars of Vitosha were going to the West and soon. The team needed new leaders and there were none… Vitosha was talented enough to leave the rest of the league far behind, but that was all – they were not rival to the leaders and finished 10 points behind the arch-enemy.
CFKA Sredetz (CSKA Sofia) dominated this season and won the title for a record 25th time. 20 wins, 9 ties, and only 1 lost game! 86-24 goal-difference. 49 points. The only team able to beat them this season was not even Vitosha (Levski), but Trakia (Botev) – they managed to prevail 1-0 at home in Plovdiv. And were the only team with positive record against the dominant leaders (1-0 at home and 1-1 in Sofia). So here they are, the champions: sitting from left: Stefan Bachev, Nedyalko Mladenov, Christo Stoichkov, Lachezar Tanev, Emil Kostadinov, Krassimir Bezinski. Middle row: Stoil Trankov – assistant coach, Doncho Donev, Ivaylo Kirov, Trifon Ivanov, Georgy Dimitrov – captain, Kiril Kachamanov, Roumen Stoyanov, Petar Zhekov – assistant coach. Top row: Iliya Valov, Georgy Georgiev, Petar Vitanov, Dimitar Penev – coach, Kostadin Yanchev, Iliya Dyakov, Roumen Apostolov. Injured Lyuboslav Penev is missing. Plamen Getov is also missing in the photo.
Well, with plenty of stars at hand and various youngsters – if anything, Dimitar Penev had a great eye for young talent and also a big – even risky – trust in youth, but the Army club was also back the their old tricks: grabbing stars from elsewhere – it was not Kachamanov, Apostolov, Vitanov, Bachev to play, but the well established newcomers Iliya Valov (from Vratza), Trifon Ivanov (from Etar), Georgy Georgiev (from Trakia), Plamen Getov (from Spartak Pleven). All newcomers were national team players and let say that from the bulk newly recruited national team players only Iliya Dyakov failed to impress and was dismissed after this season – his failure was somewhat predictable: he was young and without much experience, for he never played First Division before. His competition was the veteran Krassimir Bezinsky, himself still a national team material, and there was no way to replace him. Dyakov practically left no memory of himself. The other step back to the old ways was the merciless approach of the club to their respected stars when getting old – Georgy Dimitrov, arguably the best Bulgarian central-defender in the 1980s, a player of great talent and great leadership, still captained CSKA this season, only to see himself looking for a club after receiving the title. Great, but getting old and in the name of future success, he was no longer needed – the same cold practicality was an old tradition and many Army stars got the cold shoulder in quite a disrespectful manner – just discarded as garbage. But in 1988-89 CSKA had a team similar to their best teams in the past: 14 national teams players! Plenty of players to chose from, no problem of filling any gaps, changing tactics, replacing someone out of form or injured with similarly strong player. And the leadership was transformed already – from the ‘old’ Dimitrov, Bezinski, Mladenov, to Stoichkov, Lyuboslav Penev, Kostadinov. Trifon Ivanov also showed his strong will. The transition already happened successfully – unlike in Vitosha (Levski) – and the future was guaranteed: clearly Bezinski, Mladenov, Tanev were going to be sold abroad, but Stoichkov, Penev, Kostadinov, Ivanov were not for sale yet and they were the backbone of the team already. So.. jumping only a month or two ahead of the end of the 1988-89 season Bezinski, Mladenov, Dimitrov, Getov, Tanev were no longer with CFKA Seredetz (except Georgy Dimitrov, all went to play abroad), but Emil Dimtrov (Etar), Marin Bakalov (Trakia), and Dimitar Mladenov (Trakia) arrived – national team players were replaced with national team players. The team remained exceptionally strong – the only problem was unforeseen, unpredictable, coming out of the blue – the sudden collapse of Communism in the second half of 1989. If Communism did not collapse out of the blue, CFKA Sredetz was going to dominate Bulgarian football in the same way they did in the 1950s.

Bulgaria II Division

Bulgaria. Ranked 21st. The rules for the season were almost the same as in the previous one: 16 teams in the top league, 20 in the Second Division, Third Division divided into 4 regional groups. In the Third level 3 points were given for a win, but the upper levels still used 2 points for a win. No matter what kind of ‘reforms’ the Communist Party declared in 1985, things were going back to old established habits – CFKA Sredetz (CSKA) was back to taking stars from elsewhere, Vitosha (Levski) depended more on their home grown talent, the other clubs managed with was left to them. Rapidly increasing number of players were sold abroad and they were no longer restricted by age, which meant considerable loss for some clubs – the big clubs replaced the stars they sold with talents from the smaller clubs, which in turn had to improvise. The main result was that this season CFKA Sredetz (CSKA) entirely dominated domestic football, as in the ‘old days’, and no wonder why: they took 4 national team players before the season – Plamen Getov (from Spartak Pleven), Trifon Ivanov (from Etar), Georgy Georgiev (from Trakia), and Iliya Valov (from Vratza). With the new recruits, the Army team had a total of 13 national team players, solid in every line and particularly lethal in attack (Christo Stoichkov, Lyuboslav Penev, Emil Kostadinov, Plamen Getov, Lachezar Tanev, and Ivaylo Kirov). This season was entirely theirs.
Second Division. 20 teams – the top 2 promoted, the bottom 4 relegated. A bit of a battle both at the top and the bottom, but hardly and exciting season. The amalgamation of the Second Division in the recent past temporary reshaped the picture, but it was going back to ‘normal’ – four long-time Second Division members won the Third Division groups and were promoted this season: Septemvriyska slava (Mikhailovgrad), Svetkavitza (Targovishte), Rozova dolina (Kazanlik), and Velbazhd (Kyustendil). Meantime shaky and troubled clubs went down in the Second Division.
Arda (Kardzhali) was last with 24 points.
Lokomotiv (Rousse) – 19th with 26 points.
Spartak (Plovidiv) – 18th with 30 points.
Akademik (Sofia) – 17th with 32 points.
Rila (Stanke Dimitrov) barely escaped relegation – 16th with 33 points. The former Marek was in the same situation as Akademik – they were unable to replace their wonderful squad from the second half of the 1970s. They still depended on remains of the great team… now reduced to 2 players: goalkeeper Stoyan Stoyanov (38 years old) and midfielder Dimitar Dimitrov (34). And the reserve player from the old days Kiril Sergiev, now 27 years old. There was no future, clearly…
And above them were similar teams: Cherveno zname (Pavlikeni) -15th with 33 points, Ludogoretz (Razgrad) – 14th with 34 points, Bdin (Vidin) – 13th with 37 points, Tundzha (Yambol) – 12th with 37 points. As a whole, Second Division teams depended largely on few experienced key players, often with some First Division performance, and the fate of particular team heavily depended on the age and desire of those players. Teams with more such players generally performed better – those above had 2-3 players of this class, not enough for competing against others.
Freshly relegated Spartak (Pleven) finished 11th with 37 points and no surprise: their former squad was dangerously aging and as soon as they were relegated big number of key players left, including the great star Plamen Getov. The new team… was mediocre. Sitting from left: Angel Marinov,Vassil Dikov, Milko Galabov, Milko Gavrilov, Tony Vashkov, Emil Tzvetanov, Georgy Barbov, Marius Urukov. Middle row: Vladimir Popov – assistant coach, Dimitar Todorov, Ivan Marinov, Stefan Velichkov – coach, Kalin Pekhlivanski, Ventzislav Gochev – captain, Blagoy Krastanov – assistant coach. Top row: Boyko Tzvetkov, Blagovest Petkov, Vesselin Gerov, Harry Kazakov, Boyko Ivanov, Mitko Surdzhiyski, Nikolay Popov.
It was shapeless squad – only one of the former team remained: the goalkeeper Kazakov and the exodus was not even finished yet – after this season some of the better players left as well – Gochev, Urukov, and others.
Lokomotiv (Stara Zagora) finished 10th with 38 points – a prime example of the old Second Division rule – the more former First Division one has, the better fared in the league. Lokomotiv had 7 such players, mostly discarded from the their big neighbor Beroe – and they were enough for mid-table position. At least for year or two.
Vihren (Sandanski) – 9th with 39 points, Yantra (Gabrovo) – 8th with 40 points,
Haskovo (Haskovo) – 7th with 40 points.
Shumen (Shumen) – 6th with 41 points, Akademik (Svishtov) – 5th with 44 points, Dobrudzha (Tolboukhin) – 4th with 46 points, and Osam (Lovetch) – 3rd with 47 points. Frankly, none of the teams so far had a promising and well-shaped team. That practically left the top places for teams with slightly better or at least more ambitious teams.
Chernomoretz (Bourgas) finished 2nd with 50 points and earned promotion back to First Division. Standing from left: Lyubomir Todorov, Lyuben Lyubenov, Vladimir Stoyanov, Stoyan Stoyanov, Evgeny Yanchovski – coach, Raly Khalachev – assistant coach, Ivan Piskov, Lyuben Sheytanov, Zhelyazko Markov, Zlatko Yankov. Front row: Stoyan Pumpalov, Krassimir Kostov, Ivan Yovchev, Simeon Chilibonov, Zhivko Kelepov, Atanas Manushev, Nikolay Roussev, Diyan Petkov.
Unlike Spartak (Pleven), Chernomoretz managed to preserve their team after relegation and also had a number of promising young players, and good coach too. That was pretty much enough for promotion. As for not winning the championship… that was perhaps unimportant – the goal was to return to the top league. And to keep their young talent, which was more difficult – the future hero of the 1994 World Cup Zlatko Yankov, Vladimir Stoyanov, Diyan Petkov, Stoyan Pumpalov were already eyed by other clubs. Nikolay Roussev wanted to play abroad, the captain Sheytanov, who already had played for the national team was also difficult to keep in the team. A prime example why Second Division clubs were not particularly eager to have promising squads – why bother when you going to lose your talent and have to start from scratch again?
This problem perhaps explains the sudden and surprising success of Hebar (Pazardzhik) – a long time Second Division member, apparently without any ambitions for more than mid-table place, which suddenly won the league.
With 52 points from 23 wins, 6 ties and 9 losses, 66-38 goal-difference, Hebar won the championship and earned promotion for the very first time on their history. Of course, the fans were out of their minds from happiness, but it was not a great victory in itself. The squad is interesting, though…
Sitting from left: Mladen Radkov, Spas Pomakov, Krassimir Uzunov, Spas Kuzev, Ivan Chorlev, Radko Dimitrov, Georgy Gadzhev. Middle row: Dimitar Sharankov – coach, Petar Kovachev, Vassil Vassilev, Christo Toshev, Toshko Ignatov, Dimitar Milev – assistant coach. Top row: Dimitar Penchev – masseur, Krum Kantarev, Kalin Ivanov, Lazar Dimitrov, Stefan Dabov – doctor.
A typical Second Division squad… Mladen Radkov was the only recognizable player because of his long years playing for Slavia (Sofia). Krum Kantarev also had some top league experience, but by now neither player attracted First Division clubs. Nor anybody else in the team. Even the coach was unfamiliar name. Anonymous squad, but exactly their anonymity helped them to stay together and blend well – the success was recognized as collective effort. No stars. Nobody wanting them, so Hebar was secure to have its team in the next season. Additional players were needed in order of competing with the best teams in the country, but even this was no big deal, for the well-blended squad was at hand. Not aging either, but just at the right average of around 26 years – players with experience, yet still young enough. Hebar won mostly because was a team together – not a rag-tag team, not in the process of rebuilding, not worrying key players staying or not staying with them. Simple as that… if Krum Kantarev wanted to prove himself in the top league, his only chance was to play for Hebar – nobody else wanted him anyway. So good luck to Hebar in their top league debut.


Finland. Ranked 22nd. Rather strange high ranking, for compared to Turkey, Denmark, even Cyprus, Finnish football was lagging behind – but strong European performance of particularly Kuusysi in recent years elevated Finland above countries with recognized improvement of the game. The championship formula: 2 points for a win. Second Division played regular championship. The winner was directly promoted and the second best went to promotion/relegation against the 11th in the top league. Two-phased championship of First Division – after the regular phase the league went to second phased: the top 6 played round-robin round for the title carrying their records from the first phase. The bottom 6 played for avoiding relegation carrying their first phase records. Thus, every top league team played 27 games in total. The last was directly relegated and the 11th went to promotion/relegation play-off.
Second Division. 12 teams played regular championship. The last 3 were relegated to Third Division. The interesting thing was the top of the league – 4 teams fought for the top 2 places. Three of them finished with 29 points each. Goal-difference eliminated PPT (Pori), but… goal-difference was not decisive factor for the other two and they went for second place play-off: a bit strange since goal-difference was taken into account to determine 4th place, but not the 2nd. Koparit (Kuopio) had a goal worse goal-difference than Kumu (Kuusankoski) – and justice prevailed in the play-off: Koparit lost 2-4.
Kumu took 2nd place as they should and went to the promotion/relegation play-off.
KPV (Kokkola) won the Second Division championship with 33 points: 13 wins, 7 ties, 2 lost games, 43-18 goal-difference. Clearly the best team this year and rightfully promoted back to top flight.
First Division. The relegation group consisted of the bottom 6 in the first phase and since records were carried over nothing unusual happened. Jaro (Pietarsaari) was last with 11 points. KePS (Kemi) was 11th all the was, finishing with 14 points. Like Jaro, they were wau weaker than the rest of the league, but 11th place gave them a chance to survive – if winning the promotion/relegation play off. Alas, they lost to Kumu 0-2 and 1-0. Thus, KePS was relegated and Kumu (Kuusankoski) happily promoted to First Division. Great success for Kumu,which did not play top league football before.
Up the relegation group were teams already safe: MP Mikkeli – 4th with 22 points,
OTP (Oulu) – 3rd with 22 points.
Reipas (Lahti) 2nd with 29 points and KuPS (Kuopio) 1st with 29 points. KuPS had so-so league presence, but they full of joy at the end of the season.
The championship group was a battle between 2 teams – they finished with equal points the first phase and the second round was thrilling. The other teams more or less went just through the morions, having no chance to surprise the leaders.

Ilves (Tampere) finished 6th with 26 points. Standing from left: Mark Dziadulewicz, Seppo Nikkil?, Petri Ojala, Juha Riippa, Marek Czakon, Miika Juntunen.Front row: Tero Kemppainen, Ilpo Talvio, Mika Malinen, Arto Uimonen, Mika Aaltonen.
HJK (Helsinki) – 5th with 29 points.
Haka (Valkeakoski) – 4th with 30 points.
RoPS (Rovaniemi) – 3rd with 34 points. Second row: Petteri Karila, Miika Tolvanen, Hannu Ollila, Arto Autti, Ari Matinlassi, Jari Europaeus, Petri Nieminen. Crouching: Jarmo Ilola, Pasi Tauriainen, Markku Kallio, Ari Tegelberg, Matti Vikman.
The battle for the title was decided in the final phase – Kuusysi and TPS (Turku) came to it with 32 points each earned in the first phase. Kuusysi had 2-goals better goal-difference,so they won the opening phase, but that was nothing. Eventually, Kuusysi pulled ahead in the last 5 games and TPS (Turku) ended 2nd with 39 points.

Kuusysi (Lahti) dramatically won the championship with 41 points from 17 wins, 7 ties and 3 losses. 51-23 goal-difference. One more strong season for the leading at that time Finnish club. They won their 4th title.
KuPs and Haka met at the Cup final. Both teams were eager to win the trophy, but Haka (Valekeakoski) was outscored 2-3.

KuPS (Kuopio) were the happy winners and received the coveted Cup. Standing from left: Kari Tissari, Jukka Turunen, Heikki Turunen, Tuomo Hyv?rinen, Jukka Mykk?nen, Janne Savolainen, Markus R?s?nen, Yrj? Happonen. Front row: Vesa Martiskainen, Timo Vesterinen, Harri Nyyss?nen, Jyrki Rovio, Hannu Turunen, Kari Niskanen.
Great success for one of the lesser clubs. This was their 2nd Cup.

Turkey the Cup

The Turkish Cup was contested between Besiktas and Fenerbahce. Ambition, rivalry, unpredictable clash. Fenerbahce was great this season, Besiktas – second best. Perhaps the fact that the title was lost early made Besiktas more eager and they prevented Fenerbahce from winning a double by beating them 3-1.
Such is football life… champions, but no double. In great derbies the winner is never sure, no matter how strong one of the opponents would be otherwise. Schumacher perhaps ate his gloves after losing the final… he came, he won the Turkish championship, but lost the Cup.
Besiktas lost the title, but took revenge on Fenerbahce at the Cup final and ended with a trophy in their hands. Which was wonderful. It may be surprising to many, but this only the second Cup Besktas won – thus, the victory was even sweeter, for Besiktas was lacking trophies when compared to the other two giants of Turkish football.

Turkey I Division

First Division. 19 teams started the season, 18 finished it. 3 points for a win and no exciting race for the title – two teams dominated the championship, but even they were wide apart. This was the season Turkey really started new era – football was getting better and money were not scarce, for the first time a world-famous player was imported. Of course, players were imported for a long time and some of them were even well-known, but never before a world-class star came to Turkey. Tony Schumacher was the first, signaling new level of ambition in Turkey. True, Schumacher was getting old and his scandalous book created great troubles for him in (West) Germany, practically ruining his late career, but still he was world star. Yet, this event was obscured by a tragedy: Samsunspor lost the whole of their team and coaches in bus accident. Consequently, they did not play in the second half of the season and finished last – 18 games were awarded against them, so the final record is merely statistical, for the team was not doing badly before the terrible accident.
The team Samsunspor lost. They finished last with 19 points – the record they had at the end of the first half of the season – but the Federation recognized the tragedy and Samsunspor was not relegated.
Turkish football was improving and becoming ambitious, but improvement was not wide-spread and there was still big gap between teams and especially between First and Second Division – this season showed it again: all newcomers, promoted from Second Division, ended at the bottom and were relegated back to where they came from. The Federation apparently recognized the existent gap and reduced the top league for the next team by 1 teams and further reduction followed after that.
Kahramanmarasspor AS finished 18th with 23 points. Of course, it was great for their fans to see a season of top level football, but the newcomers were very weak. They won just 4 games (and one was awarded victory against Samsunspor, not won on the field).
Another newcomer – Caykur Rizespor – finished 17th with 35 points and went straight back to Second Division. Standing from left: Orhan, Önder, İsa, K.Turgut, Jurgen Pahl.
First row: Erol, Recep, Bilal, Metin, Harun.
Even the East German defector and long time Eintracht (Frankfurt) goalkeeper Jurgen Pahl was unable to save them.
Eskisehirspor, the third newcomer this season, finished 16th with 41 points and was also relegated right after promotion. True, they lost the battle for survival only on goal-difference, but still lost it.
Altay managed to survive – 15th with 41 points, beating Eskisehirspor on better goal-difference.
Adana Demirspor also managed to escape relegation – 14th with 42 points.
Their rivals Adanaspor finished a place above them, also with 42 points, but beating their rivals on better goal-difference.
Malatyaspor – 12th with 43 points. Only 12th, but the new arrival this season was Carlos (Carlos Roberto Gallo) from Corinthians (Sao Paulo), the goalkeeper of Brazil at the 1986 World Cup (this was his 3rd World Cup, but the only one he actually played). Carlos was still a national team player and will be until 1990. One of the better known around the world players starting to arrive in Turkey – and most of them were goalkeepers so far.
Karsiyaka – 11th with 43 points. The best of Izmir clubs, which was great in terms of city rivalries, but as a whole clubs of Izmir were struggling for a long time.
Sakaryaspor – 10th with 44 points.
Bursaspor – 9th with 44 points. Now, this is the A team – a long time top league member.
Konyaspor – 8th with 46 points.
Boluspor – the best of the weaker teams: 7th with 52 points.
MKE Ankaragucu – 6th with 60 points. Perhaps the gap of 8 points between them and Boluspor signifies the sharp division of quality still existing in Turkish football: there was a group of strong teams and the rest were mediocre. The league was not yet truly competitive and better reduce it.
Trabzonspor – 5th with 64 points. Not a title contender this season, but consistently strong.
Saryer – everything in its own terms: Saryer was always way behind the giants of Istanbul and rather a modest club. Competing for the title was not up to them ever, but currently they had great period and were proud to rub shoulders with the best. This season they battled with Galatasaray for the bronze medals and although they lost, it was still wonderful season: 4th with 68 points!
Clearly a bad season for Galatasaray – with 3 well-known Yugoslavians (Simovic, Prekazi, and Kovacevic) and the Turkish great goal-scorer Tanju Colak, they managed to get only 3rd place and that after fierce battle againts modest Saryer. 69 points – 1 more than Saryer’s, but… 14 less than Besiktas’.
Judging by the squad, Besiktas appear much weaker than Galatasaray. Well… as an example: Zoran Simovic was Yugoslavian national team regular and considered among the top all-time goalkeepers of the country by some – Rade Zalad was relatively little known goalkeeper even in Yugoslavia. Even Les Ferdinand was not known yet – he was loaned by Queens Park Rangers for the season, apparently not needed at home. But Besiktas was way stronger than struggling Galatasaray and left it in the dust. In the same time, Besiktas was not a title contender… 2nd with 83 points.
Fenerbahce reigned supreme: 29 wins, 6 ties, and only one lost match! 103-27: goal-difference of +76! And that when Galatasaray was having the great scorer of the country! 93 points – 10 more than Besiktas and not even thinking of bitter rivals Galatasaray. Fantastic season!

Harald ‘Tony’ Schumacher joined Fenerbahce this season and immediately captained them – Fenerbahce was proud to import a true world-star in Turkey and the German no doubt influenced the team with his ferocious ambition, hunger for success, and skill, but hardly the goalkeeper was the sole reason for this great season – after all, he was a goalkeeper… But he brought stability in the back and confidence to his teammates, who would dare to go ahead once sure that their own net was safe. Still, the team was somewhat weaker than Galatasaray as far as names go. And that makes their achievement worthier and more significant.
Fantastic season like that deserves one more photo of the team – here they are the memorable heroes of 1988-89. And keep in mind that pitches were still quite challenging in Turkey – even warrior like Schumacher used trousers instead of shorts. And he was not alone. Great victory and 12th title for Fenerbahce.

Turkey II Division

Turkey. Ranked 23rd. Second Division. A battle for top position happened only in Group B. In Group A and Group C the leaders were too strong to permit competition. The winners were directly promoted, but the Group B winner was ineligible – it was a B-team of First Division club – and that provided opportunity for reduction of the top league by 1 team in the next season. 18 teams played in each group of the Second Division and 3 points for a win were given. The last 4 teams in each group were relegated to Third Level and among them were
Group A. Nothing interesting at the top – two teams were way too strong and also unequal.
At the other end of the table Kayserispor was last – may be surprising for those following Turkish football in the 21st century, but back in time Kayserispor was practically anonymous lowly club. They finished as outsiders: 7 points behind the 16th, Bitlispor (Group A had 17 teams this season).
Genclerbirligi (Ankara) dominated the championship from start and finished 16 points ahead of the 2nd, Orduspor (which in turn had no rival either, leaving Gaziantepspor 11 points behind). 23 wins, 7 ties, only 2 lost games, 73-24 goal-difference and 76 points. Genclerbirligi was flying and returned to First Division.
Group B. Two teams were entangled in battle for first place, leaving the rest of the league behind. At the bottom, Trabzonspor ended at the last place with 23 points – but relax, it was only the B-team of the top Turkish provincial club.
However, one better known team had horrible season – Zonguldakspor, just relegated from Form Division, where they played often, finished 15th with 43 points and were further relegated down. They lost on worse goal-difference the battle for survival to Sumerbank Beykozspor.
Up the table, Giresunspor ended 8th with 48 points. Not bad for freshly promoted team, but this was nothing compared to the season another newcomer had.
Two teams left the rest of the league behind and fought for 1st place. Neither was well known – Bakirkoyspor and Bursaspor. Well.. Bursaspor was known and regular top-league member, but this was their B team, just promoted from Third Level.
Bakirkoyspor outscored Bursaspor B by 6 goals and ended with best goal-difference, but… 2 points behind the competition. 64 points did not do it…
Fascinating and well deserved victory of Bursaspor B – or Bursaspor Amateur: take either name and will be no wrong. 19 wins, 9 ties, 6 losses, 56-25 goal-difference, 66 points. Rarely newcomers from Third Division win the upper championship and second teams win hardly ever. Which at the end is the their undoing… as a second team of Bursaspor, Bursaspor B was ineligible for promotion. Still, the victory was sweet.
Group C. No rivalry for top position, yet, it was exciting season – at least for one club. No surprises from newcomers from third level – Uzunkopruspor, for instance, was the season’s outsider, finishing last 7 points behind Duzcespor, 17th.
Up the table, Eyupspor finished 13th with 40 points.
Newcomer Ayvalikgucu ended 11th with 45 points – not bad.
Freshly relegated from First Division Kocaelispor was unable to recover strenght – 7th with 50 points.
Kusadasispor had good season – 3rd with 62 points.
Perhaps Denizlispor, just relegated, wanted to climb back to First Division, but was not up to the task – 2nd with 66 points.
Zeytinburnuspor (Istanbul) was wonderful this season: 28 wins, 1 tie, 5 losses, 80-23 goal-difference and 85 points. They left Denizlispor 19 points behind and finished with the best record in all Second Division groups – earning 9 points more than the winners of Group A Genclerbirligi. Not only that, but this was historic season for one of smaller clubs of Istanbul – Zeytinburnu was going to play top league football for the first time in their history. Good luck to them!


Denmark. Ranked 24th.
B93 was unable to get promoted this season and remained in the Second Division. Top row from left: Arne Nielsen (træner), Claus Pedersen, Christian Koldbech, Peter “Tysker” Svendsen/Krøyer, Ahmed Nur, Carsten Jørgensen, Tom Jensen (manager).
Middle row: Claus Mortensen, Allan Supperi, Henrik Petersen, Allan Henriksen, Chris Hansen, Frederik W. Nielsen, René Johansson, Frank Husum, Kenneth Beck, Kurt Olsen (holdleder).

Front row: Wlady Jatczak, Thomas Lykke, Per Rasmussen, Bo Nielsen, Leif Funcke Nielsen, Thomas Olsen.
Esbjerg FB also failed to go up.
KB (Copenhagen) – or Kjobenhavens Boldklub 1876 – and
Viborg FF came on top of Second Division and were promoted.
Three teams battled for the title in the top league. Bronshoj BK was last with 13 points. B 1913 finished 13th also with 13 points, but better goal-difference than Bronshoj. Both Teams were relegated. Nothing very exciting up the table – the three leading teams were stronger than the rest.
Lyngby BK lost the race for the title, finishing 3rd with 38 points.
Also with 38 points, but with 2 goals better goal-difference than Lyngby, Brondby IF took the silver medals.
OB Odense had splendid season: 17 wins, 7 ties, only 2 lost games, 45-19 goal-difference and 41 points. Eventually, they manage to pull ahead of their pursuers.
Life was great – OB Odense or Odense BK won their 3rd title. Sponsorship was still weird affair in Denmark – 7 different companies displayed their logos on the shirts of the champions. Danish fans were used to this for a long time.
Brondby IF and Ikast fS met at the Cup title and the final went into overtime. The final result, however, does not suggest fierce contest: Brondby won 6-3.
Brondby IF was clearly the best Danish club at that time -starting from 1985, they so far missed winning a trophy in only one year and now added the Cup – their 1st – to the 3 titles already in their hands. Brondby IF was surely establishing itself as the powerhouse of Denmark. And Peter Schmeichel was ascending along with the club.


Albania – ranked 25th. Formula and structure: first, still 2 points were given for a win. First Division had 12 teams. The championship had 2 stages – first the regular league season and after that the top 6 played among themselves for the title. The bottom 6 played relegation tournament – last 2 teams were relegated. All teams carried on their first-stage records to the second stage.
The Second Division.
First, Naftetari (Qyteti Stalin), which won Second Division Group B in 1987-88, but lost the promotion/relegation play-off against Dinamo (Tirana) did not play at all this season. Their absence reduced the Second Division teams by one – 10 played in Group A and 9 in Group B. The formula was the same as in the First Division – two stages with points earned in first stage carried to the second. The group winners were promoted. Originally, the bottom half of the groups played for avoiding relegation – but this became immaterial at the end, for the system was restructured for the next system: Third Division was eliminated and all third division teams (plus Naftetari) were included in the Second Division, which was to have 3 groups. So, only the winners mattered and they were Tomori (Berat) in Group A and Luftetari (Gjirokaster) in Group B – both promoted to the top league.
First Division. The rule for point deduction for exceeding limit of red/yellow cards was still in force and thus Beselidhja (Lezhe) had 3 points deducted, Partizani (Tirana) – 2 points, and Apolonia (Fier) lost 1 point (Second Division 31 Korriku (Burrel) and Studenti (Tirana) had 4 points deducted). However, the rule was future-oriented: deductions were applied to the next season and did not affect the current one: all teams finished with full records – unlike the penalties in the Second Division, where deductions were applied to the current season.
Because records from stage were carried to the second, hardly any changes occurred in the final tournaments. Traktori (Lushnje) ended last and Skenderbeu (Korce) was 11th – both teams were relegated. They were in the same places in the opening stage and remained on the bottom in final stage.
Flamurtari (Vlore) was 2nd in the relegation group of the final stage, ending 8th overall – same as their first-stage finish.
Vllaznia (Shkoder) topped the relegation group, thus, ending 7th overall – they preserved their position in the opening stage as well.
In the championship group Beselidhja (Lezhe) stepped a place down – they were 5th in the opening stage, but 6th after the final stage. Very likely the season ended for them in the first stage.
Labinoti (Elbasan) moved up a place – from 6th in the opening stage to 5th after the final stage.
Apolonia (Fier) finsihed 4th with 33 points – no change at all.
Dinamo (Tirana) was 3rd with 42 points. Same place in first and second stage.
Partizani (Tirana) – 2nd with 45 points. They really tried to run for the title, but remained second-best in both stages.
17 Nentori (Tirana) won the title just like they did the previous season. First in the opening stage with 32 points and first in the second stage again, adding 16 more points. At the end they had 48 points from 21 wins, 6 draws, and 5 losses. 58-25 goal-difference. This was their 14th title, thus equalizing Partizani (Tirana) and Dinamo (Tirana) record.
The Cup final was Tirana derby – Partizani vs Dinamo. The clash ended scoreless 0-0 and a replay was staged. In the second match Dinamo won 3-1.
Partizani finished this season with nothing – twice second meant no trophy, a real disappointment.
Dinamo (Tirana) was quite happy with winning the Cup – the championship was lost, but a trophy was won anyway. Thus, they won their 11th Cup and equalized Partizani (Tirana) record.
If anything, this season made the future exciting – who would be the most successful Albanian club? Three teams won equal number of titles and 2 equal number of Cup.