THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

What are the expectations for the team?
Very low, ever since the draw was made and they got the hardest opponents in the other three pots. Nobody really expects them to get past the first round, although the media are trying to big-up their chances. A recent 3-0 friendly win over Russia has fed this nascent “we could do it” hype.

Are there any players who have appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?

Adi Mutu has become so ubiquitously Beckhamesque that it is more which products can hitch themselves to the Mutu brand rather than the other way around. After his coke bust (when, ironically, he was the Romanian face of Pepsi) he vanished temporarily, but his subsequent rehabilitation at Fiorentina has seen him return to seemingly all billboards and TV screens. The rest of the squad appear, en masse, in a beer commercial and that’s about their lot.

Is the coach popular?
Yes, with reservations. Having got them to the finals, Victor Piturca’s position is fairly strong, but there are doubters who question the style of play. Three crushing defeats could see him gone.  

Which players are good interviewees and who are the worst?

Cosmin Contra is pretty good. Mutu and Cristian Chivu are well practised in the modern footballing art of being bland yet doing so in a seemingly friendly way. The players who have never played outside Romania are the ones who could go either way – the amusing emotional outburst or the nonsensical ramble.

Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?

I think most people would be elated if the team just managed to score a goal.  The team included. I expect a joyful bundle by the corner flag rather than anything more choreographed. Unless it’s Mutu, who doesn’t really seem to get on with the rest of the team and looks down on them somewhat (in which case there will be a joyful bundle of all the other players while Adi runs around seeking out the cameras).

Are there any players involved in politics?
Not as yet, but many old pros and various members of the higher echelons of Romanian football are mostly, it seems, on the far right. So the longer this bunch stay out the better.

What will be the media coverage be like?

Gheorghe Hagi will be interviewed at every opportunity, but he hasn’t yet been snapped up by any one TV station. Horia Ivanovici, presenter of the popular Fanatik show, was recently taken to court by Piturca for demanding large sums of money to go easy on him on his popular TV show. Piturca was backed up by various others including Chivu, who said that ever since refusing to pay off Ivanovici while still at Ajax, he’s consistently been slammed on the show.  

Will there be many fans travelling to the tournament?

Romania’s current economic boom, its accession to the EU (meaning easier travel) and the fact that this tournament is relatively close means that there will be a fair few travelling fans, probably more than there ever have been following Romania at a major tournament before. The chants are Mooooooooo-Toooooooo.

Andy Hockley

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