Terek Grozny have become the first football team from outside the top division to win the Russian Cup. Their shock 1-0 victory over Krylya Sovietov Samara means that they will represent Russia in next season’s UEFA cup.
“I dedicate this win to all the Chechen people,” said match winner Andrei Fedkov, who chipped the ball over the goalkeeper to give the underdogs the only goal.
As I noted a couple of weeks ago, Terek are forced to play their home matches outside of Chechnya. Their ties are still going to present a major security headache for UEFA, though, especially if they are paired against a big club.
But, whatever happens next season, I imagine this victory and the prospect of their upcoming European campaign will do wonders for civilian morale in Chechnya.
For some background information on the club, check out this Moscow Times story which dents the fairy tale image a little by pointing out that they are one of the best financed teams in Russia. Their annual budget runs into the millions of dollars, largely courtesy of Chechnya’s recently departed President, Akhmad Kadyrov. It also reveals that Shamil Basayev, Chechnya’s most notorious terrorist leader, used to play for the club. Sadly, he appears to have misplaced one of his legs, so I don’t think he’ll be planning a comeback. Still, I wonder if he caught the match on tv?