Romania will fight for every metre on pitch against Ukraine, coach says

Romania will fight for every metre on pitch against Ukraine, coach says

MUNICH, Germany - Romania will fight for every metre on the pitch in their Euro 2024 opener on Monday against a vastly more experienced Ukraine side, coach Edward Iordanescu said on Sunday, adding that his players need to channel their nervousness into positive energy.

The Group E clash at the Munich Football Arena marks the first time since 2016 Romania have appeared at the Euros – a return that adds extra pressure to a desire to do well for the estimated 30,000 fans who have travelled to Germany, he said.

“There is a certain nervousness but that can be positive,” explained 46-year-old Iordanescu, who was greeted at the news conference by Romanian journalists singing Happy Birthday to him. "We have to channel it into positive energy."

Romania cruised through the qualifying stages to finish top of their group but face a stern test in their tournament opener against an experienced and motivated Ukraine side who feature a clutch of players playing for top European clubs.

Iordanescu said it would prove challenging for his side but that a group effort and willingness to leave everything on the pitch could offset Ukraine’s quality and help Romania progress in a section that also includes Belgium and Slovakia.

"The team will give their everything,” the coach said. “We will fight for every metre on the pitch.

"There is a big pressure but this is because of our desire to represent our country the way we want to," he added. "When there is unity and sprit and hard work and discipline then everything is possible."

Iordanescu, whose father Anghel had three spells in charge of Romania and took them to the 1994 World Cup quarter-finals, will hope his side can recreate the form that helped them reach the Euro 2024 finals after an unbeaten qualifying campaign.

One player with European Championship tournament experience is captain Nicolae Stanciu, a member of the 2016 squad who shrugged off suggestions he was the main threat for Romania.

“I don’t think I am the main danger for them,” he said. “Our power is in the group and that is the truth.” REUTERS

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