Romania moved through from the UEFA WOMEN'S EURO 2009™ preliminary round with a perfect record, the only one of the five group hosts to prevail, and coach Gheorghe Staicu was delighted with the achievement.
He told uefa.com: "We all wanted to qualify and obviously thought that it might be possible. But I have to admit that Bulgaria were the favourites for this mini-tournament." Indeed, after winning their opening Group 4 match 4-1 against Azerbaijan, they faced a Bulgarian team fresh from defeating Estonia 5-0. But despite losing Adriana Burtica to a red card before the break, Elena Pavel struck with 24 minutes left to give Romania a 1-0 win that took them through, as Azerbaijan beat Estonia 3-2. Romania celebrated by putting five past Estonia in their concluding match on Thursday.
'Will to win'
It was an impressive achievement. "We have only eight clubs in the whole country and most of the players come from three of those teams," Staicu said. "We were well supported by the fans in Chiajna, but what was decisive was the way the players followed the tactical tasks which I gave them for the second half, when we had a player less. Moreover, the players were totally committed and had a fantastic determination, not only due to their will to win, but also because if we had failed there would have been no competitive games for the next two years."
They will discover their opposition for qualifying proper on 13 December, the first time they have been in with the top nations since their tournament debut in the 1997 edition, when they lost to Denmark and Sweden and then were defeated in a relegation play-off against Ukraine. Staicu said: "It does not matter what the draw decides, because theoretically inferior teams might prove better or vice-versa. I think that, with luck, with the experience which we will gain if we will take part in tournaments abroad, and if our players stay fit, we might dream of finishing third in our group and qualifying for the play-offs."
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