Duruji Kvareli – 2030 Open Thread
December 2029/January 2030 – Off-Season Bits and Bobs.
The Europa Conference League draw pits us against C***aricki, who beat us twice during the 2027/28 Europa Conference League Group Stage.
We have no further “official” news regarding our new stadium, but when I went to check for an update in the facilities tab, the planned capacity at our new ground is now 5,750, up from the original 4,025.
We will also receive $411k for television rights in 2030, up from $334k last year.
We’ve also stolen Dinamo Tbilisi’s Head of Youth Development, Zurab Gogrichiani, who is a massive upgrade.
In transfer news, my primary goal has been to shore up the midfield. Dinamo nicked 2 of our primary targets, but we have confirmed three big signings that can step into the squad and (hopefully) compete for spots in the 1st XI in due course.
Our first confirmed signing is Sudanese international Omer Farjallah, at the cost of $90k from Jazeerat Al-Feel. He will join the squad next summer and train as a mezzala, likely starting in our 2nd XI.
Guinean U21 Oumar Toure will join for $75k from Soumba FC, to take up the regista role in our 2nd XI.
Finally, we’ve also signed Cameroonian U21 Yannick Eto’o on a free from APEJES, as his contract was expiring. He will join up with the squad in the summer, and train as a mezzala.
Another $1.9M for the lads’ FM supercomputer.
The media still can’t wrap their heads around our success thus far, and are predicting that we finish 2nd again.
A solid pre-season. We’re ready for the Serbians.
The first leg against C***aricki kicks off with fireworks. 3 goals in the first 13 minutes, the only problem being that the 3rd was scored by the Serbians after we’d rushed out to a 2-nil lead, and let our concentration slip. We continued to dominate but couldn’t turn that control into goals, and were rightly punished as a result. Kote “Reshi” Tkeshelashvili found the winner in the 75th, to give us a 3-2 advantage heading into the 2nd leg in Belgrade. But I can’t shake the feeling that we’ll regret not putting the Serbians away when we had the chance.
The second leg was a nervy affair, which saw us concede a penalty early on before missing one of our own. In the end, it took Gulordava finding Goose breaking the Serbian offside trap in the 88th minute, to send us through. A 1-1 draw on the night, 4-3 on aggregate. Not pretty, but enough to see us through to the Second Knockout Round.
Drinks are on Amirani at Belgrade’s famous Itcky Kitty, fellas. Word is that we’ve been invited into the aviation-themed, VIP-only Cockpit Lounge.
Season ticket sales keep increasing slowly, up to 237 this year (202 last year). Ticket prices also rise to $21 per match (up from $19), with season tickets now priced at $143 (up from $125).
The first leg against Villarreal was a hard-fought affair, until the introduction of Levan “Goose” Akhobadze. Within minutes, he turned a hard-fought 1-nil lead into a dominant, 3-nil result — playing Kavtaradze in behind the Spanish defense, to set up our 2nd, before a brilliant solo effort made it 3. (My head tells me Goose is nowhere good enough to be in our 1st XI, but my heart doesn’t want to agree.)
The second leg in Spain sees Villarreal throw everything at us, including the proverbial kitchen sink. We bend, but we do not break. Villarreal win 1-nil on the night, but we advance with a 3-1 aggregate win.
That being said, we’ve hit the ground running, rotating the squad heavily for all but one match in March.
We ride our luck against Marseille in the first leg, in front of a record crowd of 4,497. We couldn’t get out of our half in the first 45, but tweaked our tactics to get a foothold in the match, with the crossbar denying Kote “Reshi” Tkeshelashvili an unlikely winner. We will settle for a scoreless draw.
The return leg does not start well in Marseille, as our hosts find the back of the net after only 30 seconds. An unstoppable rocket from Barcelona-bred left back Carles Bellerin. It should be 2-nil after 3 minutes, when Bellerin misses a sitter. Marseille make it 2, in the 31st. 3 in the 48th. We have yet to register a shot, much less one on target. A lesson in just how far we have to go. Jankowski pulls one back in the 64th. It is our first shot of the match. Any hopes of a miracle are promptly quashed, though, as Marseille restore their 3-goal lead within minutes. Even though we are well-and-truly beaten, Goose doesn’t stop running, grabbing a goal in the 87th minute. The final insult? A 93rd minute penalty. Goose seems personally offended, chasing down a long clearance from Kurashvili moments later and smashing home our 3rd in the 95th minute. Epic. The match finishes 5-3. Marseille deserve the win. The scoreline flatters us, and should serve as a personal embarrassment to the French keeper.
We’re out of Europe. For now. No rest for the wicked, though. We host Lokomotivi in 3 days’ time.
After the match, I go to look — Goose is officially a “club icon.” He will start against Lokomotivi.
Promoted to the 1st XI for a massive match against Lokomotivi, 3 days after snatching a brace in Marseille? You have to wonder, is Goose feeling any pressure. Nope. He opens the scoring in the 4th minute. We control the match, but tired legs work against us. Goose’s goal is the difference. A 1-nil win, our 2nd win of the campaign over our primary domestic rivals in a 6-week period.
The Legend of the Goose continues to grow.
A solid run of matches sees us reach the midpoint of the domestic campaign, 6 points clear of Dinamo Batumi, 9 points clear of Lokomotivi.
We’ve given Goose a run in the 1st XI, and…well, like Shakira’s hips, these statistics don’t lie. One way or another, he’s outperforming Tsivtsivadze.
June 2030 – Misc Updates & European Review.
Our latest round of youth and training facility upgrades is complete. We’ve got a ways to go, but the Board rejected my request for another round of upgrades…except for the data analysis facilities, we’re investing another $2.5M there.
Shockwaves around Europe as the Erovnuli Liga reputation jumps to 58th, a whisker behind the Icelandic top tier and 2nd tiers in Poland and Norway. Duruji Kvareli are now sitting 52nd in the club coefficients table.
This means that, starting with the 2031/32 European campaign, Georgia will have 2 Champions League places, 1 Europa League place and 2 Conference League places:
There’s a lot that could be read into this year’s youth intake preview, but there’s no question this is a massive improvement on the previews we’ve been receiving:
All the results from Europe are here, as the English domination continues…
July 2030 – World Cup Review.
John van den Brom’s Netherlands claim their first World Cup title at Spain 2030, with a 2-nil win over Mauricio Pochettino’s Argentina.
Solid showings from Vinny Perth’s Ireland and Robbie Neilson’s Scotland, who reached the quarterfinals, while Hristo Zlatinski’s Bulgaria reached the semifinals.
Probably best not to dwell on the Second Round eliminations of: Jurgen Klopp’s Spain, courtesy of Vladimir Weiss’ Serbia; Ney Franco’s Brazil, at the hands of Mounir Jaaouani’s Morocco; and, Manuel Baum’s Germany, by Pedro Martins’ Portugal.
Beware the Ides of July. That’s how the saying goes, I think.
The start of our European campaign saw our domestic form crater. While the 1st XI prepared to face Lincoln (I know…), the 2nd XI lost away to Dinamo Batumi. One week later, our passage to the next round of Champions League qualifying all but confirmed, the 1st XI took up the cause away to Lokomotivi Tbilisi…and fell on their faces. The 2nd XI then promptly drew against Merani at the Kvareli Fortress.
While these three sides are our biggest domestic competition, it was an unacceptable run of form. One part of the problem? Gela Tsivtsivadze has scored 2 goals in his last 7 matches, dating back to May, and only 4 goals in all competitions this year. He played with the 2nd XI in July, but was utterly ineffective (In contrast, Goose has scored 12 goals since May, with 4 assists. He was also our top goalscorer last year, playing with a less-talented 2nd XI.)
For the time being, Goose will stay with the 1st XI. I plan to replace Tsivtsivadze over the winter break. After all, if he can’t be counted on to bully our domestic opponents, what use is he?
While our domestic campaign was hitting a speed bump, our form in Europe has been nothing less than scintillating. As one would expect, the 1st XI annihilated Lincoln 13-nil in the first leg, allowing the 2nd XI to finish the Gibraltarianerses off with a straightforward 4-nil win. Gibraltarianerses? Close enough.
We then faced the Icelandic champions, for a lively 5-2 win in the first leg. The lads left it late in the return leg, but eventually romped to a 3-1 win in Reykjavik off the back of 2 brilliant assists from Goose, to give us the equalizer and lead.
We advance to the Third Qualifying Round for the first time, and will face Hungarian champions Ferencvaros for a spot in the Playoffs.
The biggest task on our list was the Champions League qualifying campaign, beginning with Ferencvaros. A 1-nil win in the first leg was more illustrative of our inability to break down a stubborn defense, although we have Levan “Goose” Akhobadze (who else?!) to thank for finding a late winner. The return leg in Budapest was also one-sided, with a goal Kote “Reshi” Tkeshelashvili ensuring a 1-nil win on the night (2-nil on aggregate), and safe passage through to the final qualifying stage…
…to face AA Gent, the defending Belgian Jupiler League champions. We were utterly brilliant in the 1st leg, in Gent, but couldn’t bury our hosts. We left with a 1-1 draw, and every reason to be confident as it is a result we would not have hesitated to take, before kickoff. My fears were soon realized, however, as the Belgians actually showed up to play in the 2nd leg, claiming a 1-nil win on the night and the spot in the Champions League Group Stage that I so desperately wanted.
Which means we’ve dropped to the Europa League. We enjoy a brilliant draw, and avoid the big sides — Liverpool, Manchester City and Inter. We will face Ernest Faber’s Athletic and Galatasaray, while also getting another chance to slap Young Boys around.
After Young Boys won our Europa League Group last year (finishing ahead of Jose Mourinho’s Roma, no less), you can’t count them out. And we’d be foolish to look past the Basques and Turks. My goal is to finish 3rd, and secure a spot in the Europa Conference League knockout rounds.
The 2nd XI were eliminated from the Davit Kipiani Cup by Lokomotivi, but I don’t mind. It eases our fixture congestion, as we will have 1 less match per month for the run-in. That may not sound like much. And it isn’t. The reality is that the Cup is not important at this juncture — our Board literally seems to have forgotten about it (likely due to the bug we’ve discussed earlier). Moreover, logically-speaking it would not take priority over the Erovnuli Liga and European campaigns. So I will not mourn that missing game.
With all to play for in the Europa League, we sit 8 points clear of Lokomotivi (although they have a game in hand), with 10 matches to play. Perhaps the biggest match is in 4 weeks’ time, when we host our title rivals at the Kvareli Fortress in the middle of a key stretch of 5 straight matches — away to Athletic, then at home against Dinamo Batumi (3rd), Lokomotivi (2nd), and Galatasaray, before closing with a trip to Merani (4th).
This year’s youth intake preview was the most promising one we’ve had in years. But the proof is in the pudding.
Our new Head of Youth Development certainly deserves credit for bringing in the best class we’ve had in years.
The most promising players to my eye are Giorgi Rotiashvili, Lasha Geguchadze, Kakhaber Sharvadze, Giorgi Samkharadze, and Badri Kokhreidze. None are dead-certs for the first team, but they’re a far better crop than what we’ve been seeing.
Our first test of the Europa League Group Stage was away to Athletic, a big ask under any circumstances. We fluffed our chances, though, while the hosts buried theirs. Up until their 89th minute penalty, I thought we might nick a point. In the end, we suffer a 2-nil loss which hurts, but isn’t anything to be ashamed of considering the circumstances and how we’ve come in the last 9 years. The goal is simply to continue progressing, slowly and steadily.
Domestically, we faced two big matches at the Kvareli Fortress in September — likely title-deciders against Dinamo Batumi and Lokomotivi. We smashed them both – 4-1 and 3-1, respectively. As a result, we now sit 8 points clear of Lokomotivi, with 7 matches to play and a game in hand. Barring a monumental collapse, we should be celebrating another title in 2 months’ time.
5 matches, 5 wins. Including a big 3-1 win over Galatasaray, and getting one over on Young Boys from behind at the Wankdorf.
We’re proving that we belong not just at the top of the pile in Georgia, but mixing with the mid-sized in continental competitions. We’ve batted away transfer offers from Italy, Germany and Saudi Arabia key players (Besic, Jankovic and Selmani), and are working to finalize incoming transfers to reinforce the squad. Our target is the 2031 Champions League Group Stage.
The other big news? After 28 caps and 21 goals for the Georgian U21s, Levan “Goose” Akhobadze won his first cap for Georgia, against Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Champions of Georgia. Now, through to the Europa League knockout rounds, thanks to a comprehensive 4-2 win over Young Boys on Matchday 4, with an assist from Galatasaray on Matchday 5 while we hosted Athletic. The Basques were the better side on the night and deserved their 1-nil win, but the Swiss lose to Galatasaray, sending us through.
A big step forward, celebrated in front of a record crowd of 5,027.
The final match of the year ends on the best possible note — a 94th-minute winner from Omer Farjallah in Istanbul, after a 60-yard solo effort from Levan “Goose” Akhobadze. Not only have we qualified for the knockout rounds, we’ve done so emphatically.
December 2030 – Season Review.
9 years into my tenure at Duruji Kvareli, and we seem to be on the verge of the next big step — reaching the Champions League Group Stage.
To make sure that we continue to progress, though, we need to put sentiment behind us when assessing the squad. We’re saying goodbye to 4 players this month — Giorgi Tebidze, Lasha Kavtaradze, Archil Ghlonti, and Zviad Maghradze. They’ve each been important, in their own right. But the time has come to move on.
To what, exactly? We’ll kick off 2031 with a full-blown squad review.
2 achievements were ticked off this year: (1) going undefeated at home, in the top tier; and (2) Levan “Goose” Akhobadze, our first youth intake player to earn a full international cap. Really, who else would it have been?
Goals for 2031: Win everything, domestically. Reach the Champions League Group Stage in the 2031/32 campaign; qualify for the knockout stages of a European competition in the 2031/32 campaign.
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.