Iordanescu tells Romania to make 'history' at Euro 2024

Romania boss Edward Iordanescu (JAVIER SORIANO)
Romania boss Edward Iordanescu (JAVIER SORIANO)

Romania coach Edward Iordanescu has challenged his players to make "history" at Euro 2024 by sealing their place in the last 16.

Iordanescu's side will be guaranteed to reach the knockout stages of the Euros for the first time in 24 years if they avoid defeat against Slovakia in Frankfurt on Wednesday.

For the first time in Euros history, all four teams in a group are level on three points heading into the last round of fixtures, leaving Romania with their destiny in their hands.

They last advanced from the group stage when they made the quarter-finals at Euro 2000 and Iordanescu issued an emotional rallying cry on the eve of their latest bid to emulate that success.

"This is a historic moment for the national team. This is the greatest moment of our careers so far, and we have passion and a sense of responsibility about this," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"I grew up in my mind and soul following Romania, and now I'm here, at the helm. I'm sure all my efforts are going into getting out from this group.

"This is one of the most important moments of our lives and our careers. We know this is not going to be easy, but we have regained our dignity and brought the supporters back into the stands."

Romania could win the group with a victory, depending on the result of Belgium's game against Ukraine.

However, a draw would send both Romania and Slovakia through, raising claims that the two teams will play out a beneficial stalemate.

Iordanescu disagreed when that was put to him, saying: "Our aim is to qualify. We want to win the group, finishing first. But the most important thing is to qualify.

"This team has an identity. We have rediscovered our spirit, the fans have seen this. This has created something incredible.

"We will get through the group stage. I am confident that our journey will not end here."

Just an hour before Iordanescu's passionate speech, Slovakia boss Francesco Calzona had met the media and admitted he was "afraid" of the threat posed by Romania.

"I'm concerned about the whole team. They are a great group. I like the spirit, I like the fact they never give up," he said.

"I would not like to talk about one player because I am afraid of the whole Romania team. They are playing a great first round."

Asked about the potential of the teams playing out a draw to seal their places in the last 16, Calzona was less demonstrative than Iordanescu about his intentions.

"We know that a draw might help us to qualify for the last 16 but that doesn't mean anything," he said.

"We deserve this opportunity. Nobody gave us anything for free. If a draw allows us to progress, we welcome that.

"My boys and myself deserve to go to the knockout stage."