More of the same, please – that is the message from Nelu Stancea following Romania's 6-1 triumph over Belgium that has put the Tricolorii on the cusp of the UEFA Futsal EURO 2014 quarter-finals.
Inspired by the towering Florin Matei, who set up three goals and scored one of his own, Romania were compact defensively against the hosts while being ruthless on the counterattack, a devastating combination Stancea would like to see repeated on Thursday when they return to the Lotto Arena.
Another win would ensure Romania top Group A and thereby match their feat of reaching the last eight two years ago in Croatia. Anything less than a five-goal reverse will also be sufficient for a place in the knockouts.
Stancea told UEFA.com: "It was important not to concede many goals [on Tuesday], because our match with Ukraine will be very difficult. We hope to play like we did against Belgium and maybe to finish first in our group. Ukraine have a very good, young team and tactically they are astute."
That performance was keenly noted by Yevhen Ryvkin, who succeeded the long-serving Gennadiy Lysenchuk as Ukraine boss 12 months ago, a position he combines with his role as coach of Lokomotiv Kharkiv. "Romania are persistent and play very smart futsal – they punish their opponents for all mistakes, even the smallest ones," he said.
"We make a plan for each match. We have seen how Romania won against Belgium and we do respect our next opponents. They are leading the group, but it would be fair to look at the standings after all the matches have finished."
Though they may not admit it, Romania almost certainly have a score to settle with the two-time runners-up, having lost 5-4 on aggregate to them in the play-offs for the 2012 FIFA Futsal World Cup. "It will be a tough game, because Ukraine are a good team," said Emil Răducu, who elegantly swept in the opener against Belgium.
"We played against them a couple of years ago and although they have changed a few players [only six of their squad for that World Cup tie are in Antwerp], it will be difficult, so we will see what happens. We have a good chance of winning the group, but so do all the teams."
Like Romania, Ukraine also qualified for this tournament via the play-offs, albeit in contrasting fashion. While their opponents made light work of Serbia, cruising through 9-3 overall, Ryvkin's side squeezed past Hungary on away goals.
Not that the coach is concerned. "It's not my duty to evaluate my work – the game will be the judge," he explained. "We've prepared well, but the most important measure of our readiness will be the matches, the results."
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