Belfast Telegraph

Iordanescu hoping duo will shrug off fitness concerns at Euro 2016 qualifier

By Steven Beacom

Romania manager Anghel Iordanescu expects his team to come under serious pressure at Windsor Park when they take on Northern Ireland in a vital Euro 2016 qualifier.

While all Northern Ireland supporters are thinking that a home win on Saturday would see Michael O'Neill's men jump to the top of Group F, victory for Romania would take them to 16 points from six games and all but secure their passage to France.

Romania will arrive in Belfast aiming to do the double over Northern Ireland having beaten them 2-0 in Bucharest in November when Paul Papp scored two late goals.

Northern Ireland competed well on the night, but ultimately the better team won. The experienced Iordanescu, who has lost as Romania manager before at Windsor Park, is certain another tough contest awaits.

"Northern Ireland are a strong team with a good nucleus of players, a team that caused us trouble in Bucharest and will undoubtedly do the same on their home ground on Saturday," he said.

"Also, Northern Ireland have the advantage of having played two 'preparation' matches -against Qatar and the Republic of Ireland - giving their players the advantage of getting into the rhythm of international football.

"We haven't had a game against an international team, only a match against a Third Division side which we won 5-0.

"They have a very strong core of players who put us under pressure in Bucharest, and I expect it will be the same at Windsor Park. I don't know whether we will manage a victory in Belfast. I think that we will have to tread carefully and not take unnecessary risks if we are to achieve a positive result."

Like O'Neill, Iordanescu has several players who are not regulars with their club teams or are looking for new contracts or a move. He will demand total focus from his team, however, on the Windsor showdown come Saturday.

And he will be hoping that key players Razvan Rat and Lucian Sanmartean will make the trip after the pair were treated for injuries by controversial Serbian healer Mariana Kovacevic.

Iordanescu said: "We have some players who have not yet come to the training camp.

"Rat and Sanmartean are being treated in Belgrade and when they arrive at the camp they will be examined by the national team doctor who will have the final say about their fitness to play."

Romania's attacking midfielder Alexander Chipciu, who is capable of troubling Northern Ireland's defence, added: "I think that the game on Saturday will be very different from the game in Bucharest.

"It will be a tough game against players who play in British football and who will be in front of a home crowd."

Belfast Telegraph