The 10-year-old Szekler club Sepsi OSK reached its biggest success ever when it managed to qualify for the UEFA Conference League preliminaries after defeating Viitorul 1-0 at home in Sepsiszentgyörgy (Sfântu Gheorghe) Sunday night. Besides the Romanian sports TV channels (Digi Sport, Telekom Sport and Look Sport), the match was broadcast live also by the Hungarian sports channel M4 Sport.
Sepsi OSK has joined CFR Cluj, FCSB and Universitatea Craiova and will represent the Romanian first league in the European cups in the 2021/2022 season. The red and white team, led by head coach Leo Grozavu, will join the Conference League preliminaries in the 2nd round.
Sepsi OSK had its best-ever season in Liga 1 by finishing in fourth place, and because the third-place winner Craiova won the Romanian Cup, the championship’s fourth-place winner, Sepsi, had the chance to play for the Conference League against Viitorul. Sunday evening, exactly four years and two days after the Sepsiszentgyörgy-based team qualified for the Romanian first league in 2017, Sepsi OSK defeated Viitorul 1-0 and by this qualified for a European cup for the first time in the club’s 10-year history.
“I think I’m still dreaming now. I’m as happy as a child, and I feel like crying. We managed to get to the European cups in four years […] It is indescribable. We managed to get to the European cups, which was my dream, and these extraordinary boys fulfilled it.”
– said the owner of the Szekler club, László Diószegi, at the end of the match after jumping around on the field, following the final whistle, with Sepsi OSK players, celebrating the greatest success of his team.
Diószegi also emphasized how grateful he is for the team’s fans who “deserve all the gifts in the world” and mentioned that Sepsi OSK is going to move to its new stadium in August, meaning they will be able to play their home-field Conference League matches there.
After almost 15 months, when Sepsi OSK had to play behind closed doors due to the pandemic restrictions in the last two home games of the season, including the Sunday evening match, fans could finally return to the Sepsiszentgyörgy stadium. Even though full capacity was still not allowed 1,900 fans could support Sepsi OSK Sunday evening in person.
The first half of the match was dominated by the home team. In the 31st minute, for example, they had a double opportunity when Aganovic first shot from the edge of the box, but the ball hit one of the defenders of Viitorul and reached Aganovic again, who entered the box and shot hard for the second time. This was spectacularly saved by the Viitorul goalkeeper Cojocaru, but it was not over yet; the ball went to Safranko, who also shot toward the goal, but Cojocaru intervened again.
But 10 minutes later, Sepsi OSK took the lead with a well-deserved but lucky goal in the 42nd minute; after Viitorul defender Pedroso failed to clear from the penalty box, the ball hit the arriving Aganovic and went directly into the goal.
During the second half, the guest team started to play much more aggressively than they had before the break; they almost equalized right in the 46th minute after a corner kick, but Ardean’s 12-meter shot hit the crossbar. Because none of the teams could score for the rest of the match, Sepsi OSK defeated Viitorul 1-0 and qualified for the UEFA Conference League.
The UEFA Conference League is the third tier of European club football, after the Champions League and Europa League. It will run during the 2021–2022 season and serve as the bottom level of the existing UEFA Europa League competition, which will be reduced from 48 to 32 teams in the group stage.
Title image: Sepsi OSK qualified for a European cup (to the Conference Cup) for the first time in its 10-year history on May 30, 2021. (Photo: Attila Pinti/szekelyhon.ro)