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FC Steaua Bucureşti forward Adrian Neaga is back in Romania after three years overseas and is eager to make his mark in the UEFA Champions League. Neaga was motivated to return home from the Korea Republic by the prospect of Europe's premier club competition and is now anticipating a group-stage debut against Arsenal FC.
The 28-year-old had been a firm favourite at Steaua – scoring 27 league goals in 79 games between 2001 and 2005 – before leaving to play in Asia. Gheorghe Hagi, Steaua's now former coach, omitted him against SK Slavia Praha on Matchday 1, so a first appearance in the tournament proper beckons for Neaga on Tuesday. "I hope to make my debut, as till now I have only played in the second and third qualifying rounds," he told uefa.com.
As well as being excited about a possible UEFA Champions League bow, Neaga is quick to emphasise that Steaua's Group H campaign will be followed closely throughout Romania. "Don't forget that Steaua are the only Romanian team to have qualified for the group stage," said the former Chunnam Dragons and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma FC player. "This means our match will be a festival for the whole country, for all Romanian football. All we want is to be at the same level as our opponents, and of course we will do our best to win."
Steaua have never lost at home to English opposition, yet with Arsenal – the early Premier League and Group H leaders – enjoying such a strong start to the season, Neaga was asked if they could cope with football that looks as though it comes from a different planet. The striker, who has six Romania caps, replied: "Arsenal's players are human beings, like us. Of course they are a very strong team, but we don't consider ourselves underdogs. Steaua are a member of football's élite and we will play like equals against our visitors from England."
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