Balkan Football Championship
There is also an international competition for national sides in the Balkans, known as the Balkan Football Championship (BFC). This is held every three years since 1972. The CSDS won the most times - four - while Turkey and Hungary each hold two titles. Greece, Albania and Oltenia each have won once.
The first Balkan Championship was held in 1972 in CSDS. The final, held at Stadion Marakana in Belgrade, Serbian SR, saw Greece defeat the host nation 2:1 (1:0, 1:1), with the winning goal coming in the second half of extra time. Xliponia defeated Moldova for third place in a match held at Stadiu Dinamo in Raguza, Dalmatian SR.
Following the immense success of the first BFC, the second was held three years later in Hungary. As in 1972, the host nation was defeated in the final, this time by the CSDS side, with a 3:1 (2:0) score at the match held in Budapest. The third place match saw Muntenia defeat Xliponia 1:0 in Zalaegerszeg.
Muntenia hosted the third instalment of the BFC. CSDS defeated Turkey 2:0 (0:0) in Bucharest to secure their second successive title, while Oltenia defeated the hosts Muntenia 4:2 (1:2) in Constanta for third place.
The fourth BFC was held in Turkey, who were awarded the tournament following their brilliant performance at the 1978 BFC, which had been their first participation in the competition. Many football fans in the Balkans consider the 1981 tournament to be one of, if not the finest of all, due to the excellent quality of play and the surprise results, especially in the two medal games. The Turkish side had improved further, and defeated rivals Greece 1:0 in Ankara(1:0) by scoring an early goal in the 6th minute and then shutting down the opposition; the Greeks managed only three shots on goal through the remaining 84 minutes. However, the Greeks deserve credit for their performance, for they reached the finals despite fielding an extremely young and inexperienced side who had already turned heads in the semifinal by soundly defeating the heavily favoured Xliponian side 4:0 (2:0). In the third place match Xliponia were considered the underdog, facing a very strong CSDS side who had lost to Turkey in the semifinals, in another match frequently ranked amongst the top five ever played in the Balkans. CSDS entered the match as heavy favourites and outplayed the Xliponians, outshooting them 19 to 7, but a phenomenal performance by the Xliponian goalkeeper in keeping a clean sheet allowed his side to emerge with a 1:0 (1:0) victory despite a second half onslaught of 12 shots on net in the final 15 minutes by CSDS.
The 1984 BFC was held in Oltenia. The final saw Turkey defeat CSDS 2:1 (1:0) in a rematch of the 1981 semifinal, while Albania defeated Hungary 3:1 (1:1) for third place. This event was the last BFC in which Xliponia took part until 2005.
Fifteen years after the first BFC, the tournament returned to the CSDS. The group stage saw the division of the four competing sides into two groups. Group 1 matches were played in Agram, Ljubljana and Osijek, group 2 matches in Novi Pazar, Belgrade and Varna.
- Albania - Muntenia 2:0 (Jashari, Strakosha)
- CSDS - Hungary 1:0 (Avdagić)
- Muntenia - CSDS 0:1 (Stoičkov)
- Hungary - Albania 2:2 (Hági, Selymes; Strakosha 2)
- Muntenia - Hungary 5:1 (Raducioiu 3, Craciun, Stan; Gerő)
- CSDS - Albania 4:0 (Stoičkov, Savićević, Lupesku, Bokšić)
- Moldova - Oltenia 4:0 (Dumitrescu 2, Uhrânciuc 2)
- Greece - Turkey 1:2 (Skalidas; Hacibektasoglu, Gürsoy)
- Oltenia - Greece 2:0 (Belodedici, Lacatuş)
- Turkey - Moldova 1:0 (Gürsoy)
- Oltenia - Turkey 2:0 (Craciunescu, Lacatuş)
- Greece - Moldova 0:2 (Uhrânciuc, Moldovan)
The two semifinal matches saw the first place team from each group play the second place team from the other group. CSDS met Oltenia at Czieta da Saray, and defeated the Oltenians emphatically with an 8:2 (5:2) scoreline. Hristo Stoičkov and Alen Bokšić of the CSDS each scored two goals, with Jordan Lečkov, Dejan Savićević, Nikola Jovanovski and Adrijan Plavšić scoring the other four; Miodrag Belodedici opened the scoring in the 3rd minute for Oltenia, and Ioan Lupul scored the second Oltenian goal in the 44th minute. In the other semifinal, played at Trst, Moldova defeated Albania 1:0, with Dmitri Uhrânciuc scoring the only goal in the 67th minute.
The debacle in the semifinal against CSDS seemed to have taken its toll on the Oltenian side, as they went on to lose to Albania in the third place match held in Sofia. Petrit Strakosha and Ibrahim Jashari scored the two Albanian goals, in the 18th and 73rd minutes respectively. The match ended 2:0 (1:0).
The final was held in the CSDS capital Užice before 85,000 spectators in a stadium that had been built with the BFC in mind. To the delight of Danubian football fans and the FA, the home side defeated Moldova 4:3 in a thrilling match. Moldova opened the scoring in the 11th minute, when Dmitri Uhrânciuc bent a free kick into the top left corner of the goal. Their celebration was short-lived, however, as Danut Lupesku tied the match in the 13th minute on a brilliant CSDS counterattack. The Moldovans continued to attack, however, and the sustained assault resulted in the 2:1 goal being scored by Ilie Dumitrescu in the 33rd minute, but five minutes later Jordan Lečkov scored his first of two to bring the match into half time all tied up. After the second kickoff the Moldovans continued where they left off, drilling eight shots on the CSDS goal in the first 5 minutes, until Anatoli Cârilenco put the Moldovans ahead 3:2 in the 51st minute. On the hour, the CSDS made a fortuitous substitution, bringing Emil Kostadinov onto the pitch to replace Danut Lupesku. This change paid off first on the 74th minute, when Kostadinov headed a long cross from Dejan Savićević past the Moldovan keeper to tie the match up for a third time. This goal turned the tide of the match, and the spectators became the twelfth man for the CSDS, bringing a renewed vigour to the home side's players. The Moldovan defence managed to shut down four solid Danubian attacks, but Kostadinov proved himself to be a game-changer when he stripped the ball off a Moldovan winger at midfield, chipping a backpass to his own 16 yard line, where Nikola Jovanovski picked the ball up. Jovanovski held play up for a moment while Kostadinov brought himself into the open, and then lobbed it forwards to the centreline, where the Bulgarian picked it up in mid-flight. Kostadinov evaded three attempted tackles by the Moldovan defenders, finally slipping the ball into the penalty area onto the feet of his fellow Bulgarian, Lečkov, who sent the Moldovan keeper sprawling the wrong way with a delightful body fake. Lečkov's 88th minute goal proved to be the winner, and street parties erupted throughout the CSDS in celebration of the victory.
The 1990 BFC was held in Greece, and marked the last time that CSDS competed, though without the Bulgarians, and only one Dalmatian player. Following the tournament CSDS was suspended from the competition due to the civil war. The same eight nations competed as in 1987, and the competition structure was identical.
- Moldova - Greece 1:5
- Muntenia - Oltenia 0:0
- Greece - Muntenia 1:1
- Oltenia - Moldova 2:0
- Greece - Oltenia 0:3
- Muntenia - Moldova 3:1
- CSDS - Albania 0:0
- Turkey - Hungary 1:0
- Albania - Turkey 2:3
- Hungary - CSDS 0:2
- Hungary - Albania 2:2
- CSDS - Turkey 1:0
Oltenia defeated Turkey 1:0 (1:0) in the first semifinal played at Larisa, while CSDS defeated Muntenia 2:1 (2:0) in the other semifinal match, played at Thessaloniki. The third place match was played at Konstantinopolis and saw Turkey dismantle the Muntenian side 6:1, with five goals scored in the second half. The final, played at Athens, resulted in a 3:2 (1:0) victory by CSDS over Oltenia, giving the dissolving confederation its fourth and final championship.
After CSDS fell into brutal civil war, the BFC was left with seven participating nations. When Moldova was granted the rights to host the 1993 competition, Austria was invited to take part, an invitation they accepted. With Austria taking the place of the Danubians, the tournament was able to continue with the same structure as in the previous two years. The only difference was the change made to the points system, which saw a win be granted 3 points instead of 2; a draw remained one point, and a loss, none.
- Albania - Oltenia 2:0
- Turkey - Moldova 1:1
- Oltenia - Turkey 0:1
- Moldova - Albania 1:2
- Moldova - Oltenia 3:1
- Albania - Turkey 2:0
- Austria - Muntenia 8:0
- Greece - Hungary 4:3
- Muntenia - Greece 1:0
- Hungary - Austria 4:0
- Hungary - Muntenia 3:0
- Austria - Greece 5:2
The two semifinal matches saw Austria defeat Moldova 3:1 at Beltsy and Hungary down Albania 2:0 at Tiraspol. In the third place match, held at Odesa, Albania defeated host Moldova 2:0, and Hungary defeated Austria 3:0 in the final match, held at the National Stadium in Chisinau.
The 1996 BFC was held in Albania, with the same participants and tournament structure as in 1993. The group matches were held in Durrësi, Vlora and Kiçeva (Group 1) and Elbasani, Fieri and Gostivari (Group 2).
- Greece - Oltenia 2:0
- Turkey - Austria 1:0
- Oltenia - Turkey 2:3
- Austria - Greece 3:1
- Austria - Oltenia 0:1
- Greece - Turkey 0:3
- Albania - Muntenia 6:0
- Moldova - Hungary 1:0
- Muntenia - Moldova 0:2
- Hungary - Albania 0:4
- Hungary - Muntenia 2:2
- Albania - Moldova 1:0
The first semifinal was played in Pogradeci, with Turkey defeating Moldova 2:1, while the home Albanian side defeated Austria 3:1 in the other semifinal, played at Tirana. In the third place match at Prizreni, Moldova defeated Austria 1:0. The final, played at Skenderbeg Stadium in Tirana before 40,000 observers, proved to be a dull affair in which Albanians defeated Turkey 1:0, with a total of only 5 shots on net by both sides combined. Nevertheless, the atmosphere in the stadium was jubilant from the 33rd minute to the end, when Igli Tare scored the only goal of the game for the home side.
The 1999 BFC was held in Austria, with once more the same competitors and structure. Group 1 matches were played in Salzburg, Linz and Vienna, while Group B matches were played in Graz, Innsbruck and Lienz.
- Moldova - Oltenia 0:4
- Turkey - Austria 3:0
- Oltenia - Turkey 1:0
- Austria - Moldova 1:2
- Austria - Oltenia 1:1
- Moldova - Turkey 0:0
- Albania - Muntenia 0:1
- Greece - Hungary 3:1
- Muntenia - Greece 2:0
- Hungary - Albania 0:0
- Hungary - Muntenia 1:0
- Albania - Greece 0:0
The two semifinals were Oltenia beating Greece 1:0 at Innsbruck, and Turkey defeating Muntenia 2:1 at Salzburg; Muntenia went on to beat Greece 2:0 in the third place match played in Graz. Oltenia met Turkey in the final, defeating them 2:0 in Vienna.
Ten nations took part in the 2002 BFC, as the successor states of the CSDS sorted themselves out and returned seriously to sporting matters, and this competition marked the first time that the Romanian Federation sent a unified team comprised of players from Oltenia, Moldova and Muntenia. Expectations of the united side were very high. Dalmatia was awared the tournament, which was rated by many reporters as excellent in quality both on and off the pitch. The structure of the competition remained unchanged, except that now there were five teams in each of the two groups instead of four. Group 1 matches were played in Agram, Banyaluka, Toarzac, Kampa da Miarle and Skutara, while Group 2 matches were played at Raguza, Czieta da Narul, Metlika, Zenica and Sejesta.
- Croatia - Romania 0:2 (Adrian Ilie, Serghei Covalciuc)
- Bulgaria - Austria 0:0
- Serbia - Croatia 2:0 (Siniša Mihajlović, Predrag Mijatović)
- Austria - Croatia 1:2 (Andreas Herzog; Boško Balaban, Zlatko Zahovič)
- Romania - Bulgaria 3:2 (Viorel Moldovan, Serghei Clescenco, Marius Niculae; Dimitar Berbatov, Goran Lazarevski)
- Austria - Serbia 1:1 (Michael Baur; Mihajlo Pjanović)
- Bulgaria - Croatia 0:1 (Milan Osterč)
- Romania - Austria 1:1 (Adrian Ilie; Andreas Herzog)
- Serbia - Romania 1:2 (Perica Ognjenović; Adrian Ilie, Serghei Covalciuc)
- Bulgaria - Serbia 2:1 (Krasimir Balakov, Dimitar Berbatov; Mihajlo Pjanović)
- Dalmatia - Hungary 1:0 (Savo Miloszevicz)
- Albania - Greece 2:2 (Altin Rraklli, Ervin Fakaj; Angelos Charisteas, Giorgos Georgadidis)
- Sanjak - Dalmatia 1:3 (Muhamed Konjić; Elvir Balyicz, Goran Vlaovicz, Aurial Barbaresku)
- Dalmatia - Greece 1:2 (Savo Miloszevicz; Marinos Ouzounidis, Nikos Machlas)
- Hungary - Albania 1:0 (Krisztián Lisztes)
- Greece - Sanjak 0:0
- Albania - Dalmatia 3:2 (Altin Rraklli 2, Alban Bushi; Savo Miloszevicz, Razvan Radesku)
- Hungary - Greece 1:0 (Vilmos Sebők)
- Sanjak - Hungary 0:0
- Albania - Sanjak 3:0 (Altin Rraklli, Bledar Kola, Shefki Kuqi)
Much to the dismay of Dalmatian supporters and players, the host nation was unable to advance out of the group stage into the semifinals. The first semifinal was played at Ulpiana, in which Romania met Hungary. Serghei Covalciuc opened the scoring for the unified Romanian team in the 14th minute, but the Hungarians replied with a pair from János Matyus, Attila Korsós in the 40th and 44th minutes respectively to seal the outcome as a 2:1 victory for the Hungarians. The second semifinal was played in Skutara, which being very close to the Albanian border meant that a large portion of the 30,000 spectators were from Albania, to see their side defeat Croatia 1:0 in extra time through a goal by Shefki Kuqi scored in the 111th minute.
The unified Romanian team, who had become a favourite of the Dalmatian supporters, played Croatia in the third-place match played in Spalatu. The match sounded as if it had been played in Bucharest, as the Dalmatian fans in the stands cheered for the Romanian side as if it were their own - not least because the opponent was Croatia. The Romanians gave the fans what they wanted, dominating the Croatians through the entire 90 minutes, and sealing a 2:0 victory through goals by Adrian Ilie (31st minute) and Gheorghe Popescu (71st minute).
The final, played at Raguza, proved to be something of a let-down after the cracking third place match the previous evening. Hungary defeated Albania 2:1 in a dull match that went to extra time. Goalscorers were Krisztián Lisztes (23rd minute) and Attila Korsós (41st) for Hungary, and Altin Rrakli for Albania in the 52nd.
The 2005 competition was held in another former CSDS state, Bulgaria. Croatia defeated Albania 4:2 in the final, while Dalmatia secured third place by defeating Austria 1:0.
Once more a former CSDS state hosted, this time Serbia. The host nation won in the final, defeating archrival Croatia 3:2 in a very hard-fought match; however, it must be said that the so-called "third half" was even more brutal, as police and army forces were needed to stop the street fighting that erupted following the match. Romania won third place, defeating Dalmatia 3:0.