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FC Oţelul Galaţi may be taking their first tentative steps into the UEFA Champions League this season but president Marius Stan is dreaming big.
The Romanian tournament debutants have been handed an intimidating draw in Group C alongside former champions Manchester United FC and SL Benfica plus experienced campaigners FC Basel 1893, whom Oţelul visit for their competition bow on Wednesday. Yet Stan, buoyed by the first league title in his club's 47-year history, is confident coach Dorinel Munteanu can guide the side to the round of 16.
"Let's hope the prediction of Munteanu comes true," Stan told UEFA.com. "The coach wants us to score nine points, so let's believe in that forecast!"
Nine points would certainly give Galaţi a real chance of making the knockout stage although Stan knows it will be a tough task. And if the team fail to progress, the president will take comfort in seeing his club display, to the rest of Europe, the spirit and determination that have got them this far.
"It is difficult to play in the same group with such giants as Manchester United," said Stan, who as a player in the 1980s made 100 league appearances for Oţelul.
There is an incredible number of expensive teams with budgets maybe ten or 100 times larger than ours. It's more than we can spend in a decade. At the same time, we try not to worry about it. We want to leave the competition with our heads up and to win the respect of our opponents, so they know they have met an honest, hard-working and worthy opponent."
A fortnight after the trip to Switzerland, United become the first side to be hosted by Oţelul in their group stage home of the National Stadium, Bucharest. "The fact we will bring the UEFA Champions League runners-up to Bucharest makes us proud," Stan said. "It is an honour. And we'll treat this extraordinary event with lots of respect. Manchester United are one of the most important teams in European football."
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