Duruji Kvareli – 2029 Open Thread
December 2028/January 2029.
A big year ahead, so let’s kick it off with some big news, early in the off-season.
The Board has cancelled the long-sought expansion of the 750-capacity Kvareli Fortress, to a capacity of 955. But I’m not mad.
I did not request this, but it makes sense. Given how small the planned expansion was, you have to think we wouldn’t be able to expand much further. We’ve been playing all of our European matches elsewhere as it is. Details to follow.
The Board has also agreed to invest further in our junior coaching and youth recruitment efforts, reaching exceptional and well-established (respectively). I’m hopeful that this will start to pay off with our intakes — the last few have been disappointing.
Leutrim Selmani arrives for a record $525k from Vardar. He will take over as our starting left wingback, with Vladimir Khakhaleishvili dropping to the 2nd XI. Big money for the Erovnuli Liga, but he should be able to take us to another level, as he can both attack and defend, and has room for growth.
Finally, Bojen Gocevski will arrive in early February for $375k from Shkupi, to take up the libero position in our 2nd XI, and as the centerback option on the bench for the 1st XI.
On the eve of the Super Cup, we’re predicted to finish 2nd behind Lokomotivi, who keep lobbing laughable bids for our players. We also draw Vitesse in the Europa Conference League.
A big win in our first competitive match of the year, our first Super Cup. Debuts for Gocevski, Selmani and Kantaria — Kantaria grabbing our 4th.
A frustrating match in Arnhem, as we go ahead through an early Selmani goal but Vitesse find a way to win it 2-1, late. We’ll have to chase the tie back in Georgia.
A remarkable start to the 2nd leg against Vitesse, as Tsivtsivadze makes a brilliant solo run through the falling snow in the 1st minute to put us up on aggregate. We control the match, but our joy is crushed in the 87th when Tsivtsivadze is denied a brace by VAR. Nevertheless, we hold firm. We advance on away goals, 1-nil on the night, 2-2 on aggregate.
All told, a brilliant start to the campaign.
We snatch an early lead against the run of play in France, but cannot hold on. A 94th minute goal for Toulouse secures a draw, much more than we deserved even if I thought we would escape with all 3 points.
Back at our second home in Tbilisi, the same pattern continues. We sneak a goal against the run of play shortly before halftime, but cannot hold on after we’re reduced to 10 men in the 76th minute. Toulouse win 2-1 on the night, 3-2 on aggregate.
Toulouse were the better team over 180 minutes. They deserve to advance, even if we could have scalped them. We didn’t. A quarterfinal appearance is something we can be proud of.
We wrap up a busy month on a high note, annihilating Lokomotivi — our biggest domestic rivals — 3-nil at the Kvareli Fortress.
I think we’ve hit the point where domestic dominance is imminent, if not secured. Our 2nd XI held their own early on, and our 1st XI is roflstomping the opposition. I’m ready for Champions League qualifying to start.
June 2029 – European Review.
Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig beat Pascal Gastien’s Toulouse to claim the Europa Conference League title. But Gela Tsivtsivadze claims the Golden Boot with 12 goals. Beautiful.
As far as the rest of Europe goes, I have to say that I’m getting really sick and tired of the English dominance in Europe. It has been utterly absurd on this save so far, far and away the worst I’ve seen in years.
The Erovnuli Liga’s reputation has also increased, rising to 64th overall. Which means we’re on par with the English and German 4th tiers.
Duruji Kvareli also leap 338 places in the club coefficients table thanks to 2 successful years in the Europa Conference League, now sitting at 115th (20 spots behind Lokomotivi in 95th).
Our first Champions League draw sees us face Belorussian side Dinamo Brest in the first round, with the winner to face the winner of APOEL-Riga.
(An update, for those who might be interested. Meshakte was given the 3rd Europa Conference League spot again this year, as the 4th European team overall. The spot should have gone to Merani. It is still unclear as to whether this is an SI-related data issue, or related to the Georgia 5th tier file. I’m in touch with Weiry, so that if it is something in the Georgia file, it can be fixed going forward. It isn’t affecting me at this point, and I couldn’t be enjoying the save more. I won’t be mentioning this every year…)
Another massive disappointment with our youth intake. The best possible spin on this is that we have a lot of wingbacks and wingers, coming through. Quantity, not quality.
On the pitch, it was a straightforward month even if the 2nd XI dropped points against Torpedo Kutaisi. The Erovnuli Liga is already a two-team race, at the end of June.
One final bit of news, Vladimir Khakhaleishvili is now the club’s all-time appearance leader, with 175. His contract expires in December 2030; it will not be renewed.
The lads are at their most clinical in Belarus, smashing 3 past our hosts before they knew what hit them. A 3-1 win will take us a long, long way towards progressing through to the next round. Dinamo are a team we should beat, but the lead is not big enough to get complacent — the 1st XI will play the 2nd leg.
And it’s a good thing we didn’t tempt fate, because Dinamo came to play in the 2nd leg. Nevertheless, we prevail 5-3 on aggregate, 2-2 on the night.
We’ll face APOEL in the next round.
The very day that our ongoing facility improvements are complete, I go begging to the Board. They agree to continue developing our youth and training facilities, although they won’t let me sign a new affiliate yet.
In the Third Qualifying Round, we face CFR Cluj. We have every reason for confidence. Before kickoff in the 1st leg, however, we are met with the news that the winner will face Olympiacos for the right to play in the Group Stage. First things first, though. We’ve got a stubborn Romanian side to vanquish.
We blow the first leg against Cluj. A poor performance. A 1-nil loss that should serve as a wake-up call. It doesn’t. A scoreless draw in the 2nd leg means we are eliminated from the Champions League. We had our chances, but couldn’t put them away.
We will face Rijeka in the Europa League Playoffs.
We approach the first leg of the Rijeka tie having failed to find the back of the net in 4 matches — the 1st XI in two matches against Cluj, the 2nd XI away to Zestaponi and at home against Dinamo Tbilisi. Granted, we’ve only given up 1 goal in those 4 matches. But we need to find our shooting boots.
We don’t bring out shooting boots, but break the streak in the 1st leg thanks to two headed goals of pinpoint free kicks served by Vasile State. We take a 2-nil advantage to Croatia. Where we hold firm, a scoreless draw ensuring passage to the Europa League Group Stage.
We’ll face Jose Mourinho’s Roma, Young Boys and Crusaders. We should battle Young Boys for 2nd, I’d think.
It was a brutal month. But I’m pleased. We have a good shot to advance in the Europa League, and sit 4 points clear of Lokomotivi in the Erovnuli Liga, despite the 2nd XI playing all of our domestic fixtures.
The Board won’t let us sign up another affiliate, but is more than willing to continue investing in our data analysis facilities. That full-world FM30 save the lads are planning is going to be epic.
Our Group Stage campaign starts disastrously, as we take Young Boys to the woodshed, but only embarrass ourselves in the end. A 1-nil loss, with their goal coming against the run of play.
All told it was a long, hard month. Our legs are tiring. But the end is in sight. 7 matches to play. The Davit Kipiani Cup final. 3 Erovnuli Liga matches. 3 Europa League matches.
Our youth intake also arrived. It was as poor as the preview indicated.
The 2nd XI claim the Davit Kipiani Cup with a 1-nil (aet) win over Dinamo Batumi, meaning that we’re on the verge of a clean-sweep of the domestic competitions for the year.
Looking to secure passage to the Europa Conference League knockout rounds against Crusaders on Matchday 4, we leave it late. Gogitidze buries one in the 73rd to give us the 1-nil win. The cash award for a win at this stage? $631k. Which almost matches our $669k turnover during our first campaign in the Erovnuli Liga, in 2026 — a number inflated by $125k thanks to cash infusions from the Board. Our annual profit to-date is more than $6M. Heady days, these.
I applied for the job after some deliberation (regarding whether it was the “right” time to do so). The FA ultimately concluded that Giorgi Amirani is was not the “best person for the job,” and instead hired the guy whose resume includes getting sacked by Saburtalo, Rustavi and Zestaponi in the last 3 years.
A few hours after I got the message that I wasn’t the “best person” for the Georgia job, we spanked Young Boys 4-1 at the Wankdorf.
2 matches to play, we’re still on for the title despite the 2nd XI slipping up against Dinamo Tbilisi. We are also still in with a shout to reach the Europa League knockout rounds, but would need help from Crusaders who host Young Boys on Matchday 6.
An emphatic 2-nil win on the final matchday confirms our domestic treble. In the end, our 5-point margin over Lokomotivi was closer than I wanted. We also only secured 85 points, as compared to 90 last year. We did score more goals (80, an increase of 10), but also conceded more (21, instead of 18). We need to do better.
After the final whistle, I sacked our Head of Youth Development. We’ve had several poor intakes in a row, and it’s time to see if our increased reputation can land a better candidate. Fingers are crossed.
Mourinho is up to his old tricks before the final match, but he’s probably just mad because we sent some of the local “talent” to visit him the night before the match. I decide to speak to the media for the first time in years.
We get the last laugh, holding Roma to a scoreless draw in front of a record crowd of 4,395, which means that Young Boys win the Group. We drop to the Europa Conference League, but have every reason to be proud of our efforts.
December 2029 – Season Review.
Our first trip to the Champions League was less glorious than I’d hoped. I’d like to think that we tightened our grip on Georgian football this year, even if the Erovnuli Liga was closer.
There’s no question our squad is strong than it was. I want to add a few players, though. Having spent time improving our defense, I’m turning back towards the attack. I wouldn’t mind a mezzala or two. And we need a new backup regista. Backup wingbacks wouldn’t hurt, either, as that is arguably our biggest weakness right now in the 2nd XI.
I’m also torn over Gela Tsivtsivadze. Goose had an amazing year, and is a long-term squad player. I will give some serious thought to dipping into the market to replace Tsivtsivadze.
Goals for 2030: Improve on our performance in the Erovnuli Liga. Make a run in the 2029/30 Europa Conference League knockout rounds. Make a run in the qualifying rounds for the 2030/31 Champions League.
God leaned over to the Devil, drew him close and declared, “those who will drink three glasses of chacha may be on my side. After that, they are yours.”
If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused, the basic concept behind the Fourth Glass save is explained here. Just need to catch up? Each installment in Giorgi Amirani’s attempt to take over the football world, starting from the Georgian Regional Leagues, can be accessed through the Fourth Glass Archive.