Skonto wins record 14th championship title

  • 2004-11-17
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - Skonto FC won a world record 14th straight league championship after it obliterated Ditton Daugavpils 6-0 on Nov 11.

Going into the match, Skonto was three points ahead of second placed Liepajas Metalurgs and needed just a point to clinch the title. Metalurgs did its part by defeating FK Riga 1-0, but its efforts were not enough.

Goals in the first half from internationals Gatis Kalnins and Mihalis Miholaps and one from Andrei Pereplyotkin had Skonto 3-0 up before an own goal by Pavels Mihadjuks and further goals from Kalnins and Arturs Zakresevskis completed the 6-0 thrashing.

After taking over from Aleksandrs Starkovs in September, Skonto coach Jurijs Andrejevs led the club to eight wins and a draw, with just one defeat to his name. "We believed in our victory and we succeeded," Andrejevs said shortly after the game.

For Mikhails Zemlinskijs this was his 14th premiership title. "This season was unique. But this title was one of the hardest to get. When we were in a difficult situation all our team kept believing in victory, because we've had much more difficult times before," the inspirational Skonto captain told the Latvian daily Diena.

"This was a really hard game. First we lost games to Jurmala and Liepaja, but it's exactly in those moments that a champion's temperament comes through: not to give up hope and to try and achieve the best you can," said Oleg Blagonadezdin.

"I had to trust my young players and they didn't disappoint me. The experience of the European championships helped us to play a lot better," Andrejevs continued. "I don't want to mention any names, because first of all we won this game as a team," he added.

FK Auda finished the season with just one point from 28 matches and was resigned to relegation weeks ago. It is to be replaced in the top flight by FK Zibens/Zemessardze, while Ditton will face first division side FK Venta in a playoff with the winner playing in the top flight next season.

Metalurgs at least has the consolation of playing in the UEFA Cup next season, while Skonto is likely to enter into the first or second qualifying round of the lucrative Champions League competition.

The previous world record for consecutive league championships was set just two weeks ago by the Norwegian team Rosenborg, which narrowly beat out Valerenga on goal difference to capture its 13th championship. However, the record now returns to Latvia.