Lucescu makes Rapid exit

AFC Rapid Bucuresti, Romanian Cup final winners on Saturday, and high-flying CFR Ecomax Cluj-Napoca will enter next season's UEFA Cup with new coaches.

Razvan Lucescu is stepping down as AFC Rapid Bucuresti coach, just two days after leading the capital club to victory in the Romanian Cup and a place in next season's UEFA Cup. "I made the decision before the final but kept quiet about it as I did not want to unsettle the team before the big match," Lucescu said.

'Immense pressure'
Rapid Bucharest beat FCU Politehnica Timisoara 2-0 on Saturday to salvage a miserable campaign, but Lucescu was keen to move on after finishing fourth in LIGA I, 18 points behind the champions FC Dinamo 1948 Bucuresti. "We were constantly under immense pressure to get better results in the league this season... it really affected the players," added Lucescu, who coached Rapid for three years, winning two Romanian Cups and reaching the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup in 2005/06.

New Cluj coach
Meanwhile, the club which finished a place above Rapid to initially deny them a UEFA Cup spot, CFR Ecomax Cluj-Napoca, have appointed the former Romanian international and Dinamo coach Ioan Andone, 47, as their new boss on a two-year contract following Cristiano Bergodi's surprise decision to stand down. The Italian opted against extending his contract despite leading the club into European competition for the first time in their history.

Duo come in
Cluj have already begun building for that campaign, signing AFC Gloria 1922 Bistrita central defender Gabriel Muresan and Nigerian striker Ibezito Ogbonna, 24, from Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC. The 25-year-old Muresan has been called into the Romania fold for the first time for the double-header against Slovenia on 2 and 6 June.