Thursday, January 31, 2013

A record European win for Sigma Olomouc


What do the two clubs of Sigma Olomouc and PFC Velbazhd Kyustendil (Bulgaria) have in common?  For one, they were both formed in the same year, 1919, and they played each other in the 2nd round of the 2000 Inter-Toto Cup.  The 2nd leg resulted in a record win for Sigma.  Two Sigma players scored four goals each, and a mediocre crowd showed up.  What more could you ask for in the Inter-Toto Cup?  This is what the competition was all about, and I for one wish it was still around.

First of all, it is important to give a brief background of Velbazhd Kyustendil, because they are an unknown for most people outside of Bulgaria. Kyustendil is a small city of 45,000 people tucked away in the south-western corner of Bulgaria, not far from the Macedonian and Greek border.  There are more than 40 mineral springs in the city of 45,000.

As mentioned previously, the football team was formed in 1919, and enjoyed their greatest success during the early 1990's and 2000's when they spent a number of years in the Bulgarian top division.  This good run of form was rewarded in 2000 with a short dip in the Inter-Toto Cup, and in 2001 when they lost in the Bulgarian Cup final 1-0 against Litex Lovech.

During this time period, arguably the biggest name to have played for Velbazhd Kyustendil was Illian Stoyanov.  From 1996-2000 he appeared for the club 88 times, and was a member of the Bulgarian national team having played 40 times for his country from 1998-2010.  Another big name was Mihail Mihavlov scored 33 goals in 64 games for the club between 1997-2000.  Overall, he played 167 times on three different stints with Velbazhd scoring 85 goals.  Both of these players were key to the success Velbazhd achieved in 2000, 2001 and their appearance in the Inter-Toto Cup.

To get to the 2nd round of the Inter-Toto Cup, both sides had to play in the 1st round.  Velbazhd defeated University College Dublin on away goals (3-3), while Sigma Olomouc slipped passed Araks Ararat 3-1 on aggregate.

1st leg - University College Dublin 3 Velbazhd 3

I started following Sigma Olomouc in the summer of 2000, a few months before I was set to go to the city to study.  So, the team that played against Velbazhd for me has many memorable names.  The first leg in Bulgaria ended 2-0 for the hosts.  For the return leg, a rather small early July crowd of 1,370 showed up.The line-up for Sigma Olomouc was as follows -

Kamensch - Kovář, Ujfaluši, Kováč (75. Rozehnal), Kučera - Špiláček (60. Kobylík), Zbožínek, Barbořík, Urbánek - Vlček, Zdráhal (61. Kaspřík)

The first half ended 2-0 for Sigma on goals by Vlček in the 3rd minute, and Kovář in the 11th minute.  Sigma incredibly scored 6 goals in the 2nd half to make the final score 8-0.  Stanislav Vlček and Michal Kovář each scored four goals. Even more incredibly, the Romanian referee called four penalties for Sigma (they scored all of them).  The visitors also received two red cards.  It definitely wasn't their day.

Sigma Olomouc went to defeat Croatian side Slaven Belupo in the 3rd round; Czech side Blšany in the semi-finals before finally losing out to Udinese in extratime (2nd leg).

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