You probably have never heard of CHISINAU, (pronounced Kish-in-now). and capital of Moldova..the least visited country in Europe. I arrived from Bucharest on www.tarom.ro in 50 minutes, and one of my favourite airlines. After two earthquakes and decades under the Soviets it's now quite a lively place despite many Soviet era large apartment blocks. Arriving by taxi from the small airport we passed lots of forests and in town there are tree lined boulevards and wonderful parks and lakes. Aboout 600,000 residents and back in 1900 43% of residents were Jewish.with many thousands shot in the 1940s.
I had come to watch local powerhouse FC Zimbru host Speranta Nisporeni in a Divizia Nationala contest at Zimbru Stadium where the national team also plays. 10,500 all seater and about 1200 fans at the most..I think it was free entry and lots of families and youngsters and babies. I met with Emil Piscarencu the Press Chief beforehand who is a big West Ham fan. In fact prior to the early evening kick-off the loudspeakers blasted out I'M FOREVER BLOWING BUBBLES, over and over in English,,the Hammers club song. He was proud that the Moldovan national team and u21s usually have 7-8 Zimbru players.
Zimbru play in green and yellow stripes and have a Buffalo mascot in full outfit entertaining the youngsters. Beforehand I watched a couple of possibly u11s matches on a 4G pitch which is side by side with a full grass pitch for the seniors. Between them and the stadium on the campus is the Zimbru Hotel where I stayed and had been full of Welsh fans not too long ago, so I was told. The visitors took the lead through Valeriy Kutsenko in the 64th minute before an equaliser 11 minutes later with a goal from Alekis Onici..honours shared.
The most entertaining part of the evening was the 300 or so crazy fans in one corner who chanted,clapped, sang and jumped up and down for 90 minutes, led by a cheerleader and a drummer and a few large flags, watched over by 8 cops in full riot gear. On one occasion they split into two groups and parted and then charged each other and wrestled in a friendly way. great supporters and entertainers. for the GALBEN-VERZI (the yellow-greens). www.zimbru.md.
They played in the top Soviet League for 11 seasons but since independence and a new Moldovan League, a new club Sheriff Tiraspol to the north east in unrecognised Transnistria are the top club. and both play the Moldovan El Classico derby. Zimbru have played in all the European competitions against such teams as Honved, Sparta Prague, Tottenham Hotspur, Hertha BSC, Young Boys, PSV Eindhoven, St. Patrick's Athletic, Real Betis, Bangor City. the national team recently finished last in the group for Russia 2018 behind Serbia, Ireland, Wales, Austria and Georgia.www.fmf.md. and at present are 173rd in FIFA rankings.while they were as high as 37th in 2008.
After they played England in 2007 British comedian Tony Hawks challenged and beat ALL ELEVEN of the Moldovan football team at tennis and wrote a book. PLAYING THE MOLDOVANS AT TENNIS.
I found a FANTASTIC restaurant by chance.. CACTUS restaurant and saloon. Lots of neat nick nacks similar to Friday's, with superb cuisine. I was served by English speaking Peter who runs the place and cooks with tender loving care.www.cactus.md. The highlight was when I asked for a dessert and he brought out a BLACK ICE CREAM gateau !! In between the black was a green layer made with yerba tea. AWESOME. Go visit next time in Chisinau. Armeneasca St 41.
Next city I went to was Odessa, Ukraine by a 20 seat Mercedes-Benz mini bus with aircraft style seats from Gare du Nord bus terminal. 5 hours on bumpy highways including about 45 minutes stop at both border stops..for about $8.00 one way..No flights between them. Great wineries and tours available..next time.