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CFR Cluj revving up to challenge Steaua

Published: Tuesday 16 July 2013, 9.27CET
"We win the title every two years," said CFR 1907 Cluj midfielder Camora as his side prepared for the start of the new Romanian campaign on Friday. "This season will be ours."
by Paul-Daniel Zaharia
from Bucharest
CFR Cluj revving up to challenge Steaua
Camora believes 2014 could be a magic number for CFR ©Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 16 July 2013, 9.27CET

CFR Cluj revving up to challenge Steaua

"We win the title every two years," said CFR 1907 Cluj midfielder Camora as his side prepared for the start of the new Romanian campaign on Friday. "This season will be ours."

FC Steaua Bucureşti's 3-0 Romanian Super Cup success against FC Petrolul Ploiești was a daunting reminder of what the 24-time champions can do, but CFR 1907 Cluj feel they can unsettle the title holders when the season begins on Friday.

The Railwaymen may not be able to match Steaua for silverware and heritage, but in recent seasons CFR have been competing regularly in Europe and hitting the heights in domestic football. Since gaining promotion in 2004, the club have won three titles (in 2008, 2010 and 2012) and those even numbers augur oddly well for midfielder Camora. "We win the title every two years," said the 26-year-old. "This season will be ours. I am sure that we will win the title."

In 2012/13, CFR became the first Romanian side to beat Manchester United FC at Old Trafford, prevailing 1-0 in their final UEFA Champions League group stage game, but it was a season to forget at domestic level, where defeat in the cup final and a ninth-place finish in the league put paid to their chances of a European place for 2013/14.

No fewer than 13 players left or retired in the summer – Gabriel Mureşan joined Russia's FC Tom Tomsk, while GNK Dinamo Zagreb snapped up Bakary Sare and Ivo Pinto – but rebuilding work began swiftly. The club appointed coach Mircea Rednic, the 51-year-old former Romanian international who has won titles with FC Dinamo Bucureşti and AFC Rapid Bucureşti, as well as earning R. Standard de Liege a place in this season's UEFA Europa League.

His summer signings have included AC Cesena's Gonçalo Brandao and Damjan Djoković, Grégory Tadé from Saint Johnstone FC, Javier Velayos from FC Braşov and CS Turnu Severin's Florin Costea. Meanwhile, Paul Batin and Viorel Nicoară are back at the club after loan spells. "There is competition in every position," said Rednic. "I want to win the title and the cup. That's why I came back to Romania."

Yet Laurențiu Reghecampf's Steaua remain title favourites, even if the arrivals of SC Vaslui's Nicolae Stanciu and UC Sampdoria's Federico Piovaccari, as well as Mihai Răduț's return from loan, may not make up for the gap left by star striker Raul Rusescu's departure for Sevilla FC. Steaua's targets are a 25th title and a return to the UEFA Champions League group stage, and Reghecampf believes they have what it takes to complete both missions. "We have the squad to play at the highest level in all competitions," he said.

Last updated: 16/07/13 17.08CET

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