After a dismal eight-year gap, with unfulfilled expectations, Romanian national team fans have, yet again, enjoyed a qualification to a final tournament. Which this time has been very special, since the national squad's record is a no-defeat one. Romania is at the top of the table in the preliminaries' Group 1, thus earning its place among second-pot teams, ahead of the draw. So, in theory, at least, Romania can avoid locking horns with more top-tier teams than they would have faced had they finished 2nd and been included in pot four. Romania secured the top-of-the-table position in the group, this past Tuesday grabbing a 1-nil home win against Switzerland, a team that has also secured its ticket for EURO 2024, earning the runner-up position in the group.
It was a great win, and an unexpected one, at that, all the more so as Switzerland is 14th placed according to world rankings, while Romania is 48th placed. In Bucharest on Tuesday, in the wake of a game that had nothing special about it, Edward Iordănescu's trainees won, 1-nil, thanks to Denis Alibec's goal on 50 minutes. Here is what the Romanian striker said right after the match
"We're so happy we have succeeded to close the campaign with a win and be at the top of the table in the group, even though there were many people who did not place their stakes on us, early into the campaign, yet we proved that we were a family, that we knew how to fight together. Switzerland had a much better line-up, but ours was a walk-or-die performance on the pitch. "
Captain Nicolae Stanciu:
"For me, it is the finest evening in my entire footballer's career, all the more so as we've had a couple of difficult years, since we were unable to qualify to this or that competition. I believe tonight we can afford partying and we are anxious for EURO to draw near, as we fully believe in ourselves and we want to have a summer to remember."
Alibec and Stanciu are Romanian pool of regulars' only footballers who had played in a final tournament before, that is in 2016, at the European championship in France. Back then national team head coach was Edward Iordanescu's father, Anghel Iordanescu. It was Iordanescu junior's turn, right after the game against Switzerland, to prove he himself was a valuable head-coach.
"We're closing this qualification campaign in a fabulous way. Words simply fail me, personally, in my bid to express gratitude to these wonderful lads, for their determination, for their behavior, for the fine way they proved themselves. And if there is anything, anything at all I deserve any praise for, it is the fact that I believed in them unconditionally, that I succeeded to persuade them to believe in what they can do, in the potential they have, in how wonderful the things they can accomplish are, when they are a family and work together. "
The drawing for the European Championship's final tournament in Germany will take place in Hamburg on December 2nd.