FC Steaua Bucuresti coach Cosmin Olaroiu has admitted he thought owner Gigi Becali was "talking rubbish" by suggesting the club could reach the UEFA Champions League group stage - after leading the Romanian title-holders into this evening's draw.
'Dream came true'
A 2-1 home win against R. Standard de Liège gave Steaua a 4-3 aggregate victory in their third qualifying round tie to end a ten-year absence from European football's élite competition for the 1986 champions. Olaroiu was understandably delighted. "I am extremely happy," he said. "To be honest, when our club owner Gigi Becali said we would reach the Champions League group stage, I thought he was talking rubbish. But his dream came true and I am grateful he chose me as the coach to achieve this goal."
Having drawn 2-2 in Belgium, Steaua looked to have undone that good work when Milan Jovanović struck for Standard two minutes into the return. But Valentin Badea, who had never before scored in Europe, registered on 35 and 51 minutes to turn the tie. Olaroiu added: "To be honest, I was terrified when Standard had the chance to go 2-0 up, but our goalkeeper Carlos Alberto Fernandes was fantastic. From that point onwards, our lads were marvellous. I have to admit, from now on things will be much more difficult. Luckily, we will have the opportunity to strengthen our squad."
That should not affect striker Badea's first-team status, however, and he declared: "This is the biggest thing I have ever done. I dedicate this victory to our injured players, Mirel Radoi and Victoras Iacob." The last word, though, went to Becali: "Now I will hear the Champions League anthem across the continent. I want to conquer Europe."
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