We take a quick look at the resurgent footballing power that is Romania and the players the Qantas Socceroos should watch out for.
Star striker Ciprian Marica playing for Schalke 04. FIFA Ranking: 33
Recent form: Def Belgium 2-1, def by Netherlands 4-1, def Turkey 1-0, def Andorra 4-0, def Estonia 2-0.
Romania have improved somewhat in recent years, forcing their way into 33rd in the official FIFA rankings, after dropping out of the top 50 just two years ago.
Currently third in their World Cup qualifying group, behind the Netherlands and Hungary, Romania are currently in the dreaded “rebuilding phase” as they try to reclaim past glories. They missed Euro 2012, and Brazil 2014 still looks beyond the Tricolorii , with qualification for Euro 2016 a more achievable target.
The man in charge: Victor Piturca is currently enjoying his third spell in charge of the national team, although like many countries whose performance hasn-t met their expectations the coaching gig has become somewhat of a hot potato and been passed around the table without much success.
A talented striker in his heyday, Piturca never really got much of a look in as an international player, but this time as coach he seems to have the team firing at a decent level.
Star players: Ciprian Marica: The Schalke 04 forward is more than capable of delivering the spectacular, and while 18 goals in 59 games for Romania is hardly prolific he is exactly the type of match-winning star who can turn a game.
Adrian Mutu: He may have been just about everywhere as a professional footballer, with varying degrees of success, but Mutu has always been solid for Romania.
He scores in nearly half the games he has played and is as big a talisman as you could have East of Germany and Miroslav Klose, with Romania having only lost one match when he has found the net.
Their history: Not so long ago, Romania were a footballing powerhouse of Eastern Europe and were ever-present in the early World Cups.
More recently, names such as Gheorghe Hagi, Dan Petrescu and Gheorghe Popescu will resonate with football fans as Romania proved to be one of the most exciting national teams of the 1990s. But the quarter-finals of the -94 World Cup proved to be their high point.
Unfortunately, despite achieving their highest ever FIFA ranking of no.3 back in 1997, the good times would not last and the national team, like the country itself slumped into a dark period during the 2000s.
Romania are only now climbing out of that mire and despite the squad being mostly made up of players from their domestic league, Piturca-s team still possess good technique and should represent a solid test for the Qantas Socceroos.
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