SC Vaslui were founded only a decade ago but now stand on the brink of overcoming Fenerbahçe SK to move within sight of the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Vaslui had never played in the Romanian First Division until 2005, and their startling ascent reached a new high last season when they finished second in the top flight. They had tasted European competition before – failing, in qualifying, to reach the UEFA Europa League proper in 2008, 2009 and 2010, before losing to FC Twente in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. However, they then went on to win six points in the UEFA Europa League group stage although they could not make it to the round of 32.
This season's continental campaign began with a 1-1 draw against Fenerbahçe in Istanbul on 1 August, leaving Vaslui well placed for Wednesday's third qualifying round second leg. After losing 3-0 to CFR 1907 Cluj at the weekend, though, coach Marius Șumudică remains realistic. "Everybody is enthusiastic about Vaslui but let's keep calm," he said. "What have we achieved? Nothing. Let's keep our feet on the ground."
Șumudică has welcomed a host of new players this summer, with the arrival of Romanian internationals such as Dănuț Coman and Marius Niculae a sign of their ambitions. Vaslui may not be located in the most affluent part of the country but there is no shortage of investment in the eastern club, meaning the domestic title and UEFA Champions League group stage qualification are considered attainable targets this term.
"We know Fenerbahçe are a very good side yet we are aware of their weak points," said playmaker Lucian Sănmărtean. "
It will be a totally different match from the first leg and I am sure they will not underestimate us any more. We will attack and we will qualify. After the first leg we have a slight advantage and we have to make the most of it. We will not have a chance if we go for 0-0."
Sănmărtean's caution is understandable, yet the portents look good considering Vaslui have never lost a European home game despite coming up against the likes of Sporting Clube de Portugal and S.S. Lazio. Fenerbahçe have been warned.
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