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Skonto Riga

Skonto Riga is a football (soccer) club from Latvia.

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About Skonto Riga

Skonto FC is a Latvian Association football club, founded in 1991. The club plays at the Skonto Stadium in Riga. Skonto won the Virsliga in the first 14 seasons of the league's existence (15 in total), and often provides the core of the Latvia national football team. With those 14 national championships in a row, they set a European record, men and women's football combined.

History

Skonto FC was founded in 1991. It won the Virsliga 14 seasons in a row, and only in the 2005 season club finished second after FK Liepājas Metalurgs. In 2006, Skonto finished third in a close contest with FK Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Ventspils. Skonto FC have won the Latvian Cup on seven occasions, acquiring the Cup most recently in 2002.

Skonto FC was by no means among the favorites in the first years after its establishment, and the champion’s title had to be won in a fierce competition both with FK Olimpija from Liepāja and RAF Jelgava – even then an additional game was required since the regular championship in 1992 was insufficient to determine the winner of the season. In the same 1992 season, Skonto FC made its debut in the UEFA Champions League by beating the Faroe Islands champions KÍ Klaksvík. After the season, a coach replacement was made and Aleksandrs Starkovs took over from Marks Zahodins.

For the next 10 years in the Domestic League none of their rivals were able to offer significant opposition to Skonto. For two seasons running the team did not lose a single match, surpassing their closest rivals by more than 20 points in the final standings, ensuring the regular title was awarded long before the end of the season.

During the 1998 season, Skonto FC thrashed FK Valmiera 15–2. This saw the highest number of goals scored in a single game in the club's history. During these years Skonto FC players were the source of the Latvian national football team – Māris Verpakovskis, Marians Pahars, Aleksandrs Koļinko, Vitālijs Astafjevs, Igors Stepanovs, Imants Bleidelis, Juris Laizāns, Mihails Zemļinskis, Valentīns Lobaņovs, Andrejs Rubins and many others played for Skonto FC, while also playing for the national team.

An exciting battle for the Latvian championship title was seen again in the 2001 season when Skonto FC had a two point deficit before the final round to the leading team FK Ventspils, and they had to face a tough game in Liepāja against FK Liepājas Metalurgs – a team which also had hopes of becoming champions. FK Ventspils players couldn't withstand the strain, whereas Skonto FC showed the spirit of champions.
Over the last few seasons FK Liepājas Metalurgs and FK Ventspils have been in close pursuit of Skonto FC players, their attempts in the last two years proving to be successful. It has to be noted that in 2004, the head coach, Aleksandrs Starkovs – one of the essential pillars of the club – left Skonto FC by accepting a proposal to work at FC Spartak Moscow, at that time champions of Russia. The leadership of the team was entrusted to Jurijs Andrejevs, his long-term assistant, but after the loss against Rabotnicki, of the Republic of Macedonia, Skopje in the UEFA Champions League qualification tournament, he resigned from the post. Jurijs Andrejevs was replaced by Paul Ashworth, who had previously worked with FK Ventspils and FK Rīga in the Latvian Higher League and the Russian Premier League club FC Rostov.

The first major victory for Skonto FC players in Euro Cups was gained in 1994, when they defeated the Scotland club Aberdeen F.C., the former European Super Cup winners. Not less significant for Skonto FC was 1999 when it managed to take away the first point in a fixture with Chelsea F.C., on its home ground with a 0–0 draw. Skonto FC also played against Spain FC Barcelona and Inter Milan.

The Defender (association football) Mihails Zemļinskis has made 252 appearances, the largest number of matches played in the ranks of Skonto FC during the Virsliga. His 52 games played in European cups are also the highest number within the team. Mihails Miholaps has been the top scorer for Skonto FC. He has scored 155 goals in 216 Latvian championship games, and 18 goals in 38 European cup competitions.

In the last few seasons, Skonto FC's average player age has become younger – experienced players have been replaced by youth football centre Skonto trainees. Young players from outside Latvia are also included in the squad.

On 8 July 2010, Skonto lost in the Europa League first qualifying round to Northern Ireland team Portadown FC. In the first leg Skonto drew 1–1 away from home after an equaliser in injury time. They lost 1–0 at home and went out to a team who hadn't won a European tie in 36 years. Consolation came later in the season, on 31 October 2010, when Skonto drew 2–2 at home to win the Latvian league title for the first time since 2004.

Honours

- Latvian Higher League champions (15)
- - 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010

- Latvian Soviet Republic champions (1)
- - 1991

- Latvian football Cup winners (7)
- - 1992, 1995, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002

- Latvian football Cup finalists (6)
- - 1991, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006

- Livonia Cup winners (3)
- - 2003, 2004, 2005

- Turkmenistan President's Cup finalists (2)
- - 1996, 2009

- Baltic League finalists (1)
- - 2008

- Baltic League winners (1)
- - 2011

Managers


UEFA Team Ranking 2011


As of 16 September 2010.

League and Cup history

Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic

and List of Latvian football transfers winter 2011-2012.

Management

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