This eye-catching match program comes from an international friendly between the Cleveland Cobras of the 2nd Division American Soccer League and Partizan Belgrade, the 8-time champions of the Yugoslav First League.
Throughout the late 1970’s and into 1980, Cobras management imported a series of foreign clubs to Cleveland. This July 1980 contest against Partizan was the last such exhibition the Cobras would ever play and it was one of the most compelling. Thomas Hatfield, in his exhaustive History of Soccer in Greater Cleveland From 1906 Until 1981, reports that Croatian protesters burned the Yugoslavian flag before the match. The crowd of 4,627 at Finnie Stadium on the campus of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea was one of the largest in club history for the Cobras.
Cleveland State grad Walter Schlothauer spotted the Cobras a 1-0 lead in the first half. The Ohio native would go on to win ASL Rookie-of-the-Year honors at the end of the 1980 season. Cleveland keeper Marine Cano held Partizan scoreless in the first half. Partizan unloaded in the 2nd half though, roughing up Cano’s replacement, Fred Bass, with four goals after intermission.
Dzevad Prekazi of Partizan was named offensive Man of the Match, with one goal and one assist on 9 shots. Prekazi went on to become a star for Turkish powerhouse Galatasaray in the late 1980’s. He also returned to the United States briefly in the winter of the 1984-85, where he played under the name “Jeff Prekazi” with the Baltimore Blast of the Major Indoor Soccer League.
Jacob Shanee of the Cobras is pictured on the cover of the evening’s match program.