Moldova and Finland kick off their quest to reach their very first UEFA European Championship final tournament by crossing paths for only the third time in their Group E opener.
• FK Ventspils forward Alexandru Dedov is the lone newcomer in the Moldova squad, but while defenders Valeriu Catînsus, Victor Golovatenco and Igor Armaş are unavailable, Alexandru Epureanu is back to full fitness, and coach Gavril Balint is feeling optimistic. "I want to win the Finland game," he said. "Finland are very dangerous at set pieces as they have many tall players, but we have prepared well for EURO qualifying."
• Moldova squad
Goalkeepers: Stanislav Namaşco (FC Kuban Krasnodar), Eugen Matiughin (FC Dacia Chisinau), Nicolae Calancea (FC Zimbru Chisinau)
Defenders: Alexandru Epureanu (FC Dinamo Moskva), Vadim Bolohan (no club), Vadim Boreţ (Bakı FK), Alexei Savinov (Bakı FK), Semion Bulgaru (FC Alania Vladikavkaz), Petru Racu (IFK Norrköping)
Midfielders: Valeriu Andronic (PFK Lokomotiv Tashkent), Igor Ţîgîrlaş (FC Metalurh Zaporizhya), Alexandru Suvorov (MKS Cracovia Kraków), Evgheni Cebotari (FC Ceahlăul Piatra Neamţ), Denis Zmeu (FC Vaslui) , Andrei Cojocari (FC Dacia Chisinau), Nicolae Josan (FC Anzhi Makhachkala), Vitalie Bordian (FC Metalist Kharkiv), Victor Comlenoc (FC Akzhaiyk Uralsk)
Forwards: Igor Bugaev (PFK Lokomotiv Tashkent), Anatolie Doroş (FC Chornomorets Odesa), Viorel Frunza (FK Atyrau), Alexandru Dedov (FK Ventspils)
• Stuart Baxter has had a full squad to pick from for Finland's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying openers, though there will be changes between their trip to Moldova and their game against the Netherlands in Rotterdam, with Joonas Kolkka to replace Juha Hakola for the latter fixture. "We have to concentrate fully on Moldova and not to think of the Dutch yet," said Baxter. "It will be a difficult game in Chisinau and we need to be ready for the task."
• Finland squad
Goalkeepers: Otto Fredrikson (FC Spartak Nalchik), Peter Enckelman (Saint Johnstone FC), Jukka Lehtovaara (FC TPS Turku)
Defenders: Veli Lampi (Willem II), Markus Heikkinen (SK Rapid Wien), Niklas Moisander (AZ Alkmaar), Petri Pasanen (SV Werder Bremen), Sami Hyypiä (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Jonas Portin (Ascoli Calcio 1898)
Midfielders: Tim Sparv (FC Groningen), Mika Väyrynen (SC Heerenveen), Roni Porokara (Örebro SK), Roman Eremenko (FC Dynamo Kyiv), Juha Hakola (Willem II), Kasper Hämäläinen (Djurgårdens IF), Teemu Tainio (Sunderland AFC), Daniel Sjölund (Djurgårdens IF)
Forwards: Jari Litmanen (FC Lahti), Jonatan Johansson (FC TPS Turku), Mikael Forssell (Hannover 96), Alexei Eremenko Jr (FF Jaro), Shefki Kuqi (Swansea City FC)
• Moldova's record in two games against Finland reads W0 D1 L1 (W0 D1 L0 at home).
• Their only previous encounters came in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2000, with the first of them, in Helsinki on 5 September 1998, an eventful occasion.
• Joonas Kolkka put Richard Møller-Nielsen's Finland ahead after eight minutes, but Igor Oprea swiftly turned the tables with goals in the tenth and 12th minutes for Ivan Danilianţ's men. Jonatan Johansson then struck just before the break to level and Mixu Paatelainen hit what proved to be the winner for Finland on 64 minutes.
• Moldova ended that game with ten men following Ghenadie Pusca's late dismissal.
• The return fixture in Chisinau ended in a 0-0 draw.
• Titleholders from the two nations met in the second qualifying round of the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League, with Moldova's FC Sheriff winning 1-0 home and away against FC International Turku.
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