Romania’s national football side secure place at European Championship after 8-year hiatus.
Romania return to elite European football as they qualify for the 2024 European Championship to be hosted by Germany. They defeated Israel 2-1 away in Hungary, where Israel had to play their home matches due to the security situation. Romania only needed a draw to secure their place at Euro 2024, but ended up winning the match, despite being led from very early on. Romania's goals were scored by Puşcaş and Hagi, the former being often criticised for being ineffective and the latter handled with kid gloves by the media despite his unconvincing performances, on account of being the son of the great Romanian international player Gheorghe Hagi.
It is the merit of the manager Edward Iordănescu for creating a solid team, even "extraordinary", as he himself described it, out of a generation of players no one had much trust in. "It's an enormous joy, I'm proud for managing an extraordinary group of players", Iordănescu said, and went on: "I believed in these players from the very beginning and I never stopped believing in them. They all deserve to be congratulated, those who are here and those who have contributed along the way. It's a privilege to coach players with such character. It's a beautiful moment. We have qualified, but this qualification has been achieved with great effort and the sweat of these players, who gave it their all for the national side. We are proud to be competing at the Euro."
Himself the son of a former great football player and manager of the national side, Edward Iordănescu has not been shielded by his father's name, but has demonstrated that he is strong, responding to the criticism, often in the form of undignified attacks, by letting his results speak for themselves. He thanked all those who believed in his team and those who were sceptical, and said he was confident Romania can put in a good performance at the final tournament.
The captain of the team, Nicolae Stanciu, urged the Romanian fans to go in large numbers to Germany to support their team. "We are very pleased", he said, "because it has been a difficult campaign, but we fought hard, we sacrificed everything for the team; it's all about the strength of the group. No one stands out, we work for the team, and that's the only way to achieve something. I wish with all my heart that we will also perform well at the Euro and that the national side will qualify for other important competitions in the future".
Undefeated in nine matches played, Romania lead the group and can stay in the top position unless they lose to Switzerland on Tuesday at home on the National Arena in Bucharest. This will be Romania's sixth appearance at the Euro after 1984, 1996, 2000, 2008 and 2016. (CM)