", a sentiment echoed by sports blogger Sandu Grecu, who called it a "massive achievement for Moldovan football." "The team represents a separatist enclave where corruption, smuggling and shadow economy deals are rife, which directly damage the budget and state interests of the Republic of Moldova." Serghei Pascenco, a 38-year-old backup goalkeeper who was born in Tiraspol and has been with the club since childhood, said the Champions League was always "our president's dream".
The specialist website Transfermarkt estimates that Real Madrid boast a team worth 780 million euros, Inter Milan's players are valued at 575 million euros and Shakhtar Donetsk's 180 million.
The Champions League place, he said, will only benefit the owners of Sheriff -- "and nothing more".
"People say sport isn't politics," the 55-year-old said.
"Even more people will find out that there is this unrecognised country," the 61-year-old says of Sheriff's qualification.
The games, he said optimistically, "will probably unite" fans in Moldova and Transnistria.
This year saw them earn a coveted Champions League group stage place and about 16 million euros ($19 million) in guaranteed prize money.
"I don't see much reason to be happy," sports journalist Cristian Jardan told AFP.
It's a significant sum for a team whose entire squad is valued at just 12 million euros ($14 million) and are dwarfed by their Group D rivals.
"Honestly, I didn't expect it," the 55-year-old Ukrainian told AFP..Read Full Story