Hagi tips Romania to spring a surprise | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 25, 2008 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 25, 2008

UEFA Euro 2008 Austria-Switzerland

Hagi tips Romania to spring a surprise

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Romania, drawn in the so-called group of death with world champions Italy, France and the Netherlands, can belie their underdog status and punch above their weight at Euro 2008.
That's the verdict of former Romania great Gheorghe Hagi, known in his playing days as the "Maradona of the Carpathians".
"I don't think a (rival) coach can say he fears us, especially when we're talking about Italy, France and the Dutch.
"But we can be the surprise of the competition, like Greece (winners in 2004)," the former international and national team coach says.
To back up his assertion He harked back to his country's performance at Euro 2000 when with Hagi in the team Romania drew 1-1 with Germany, lost 1-0 to Portugal before defeating England 3-2 to qualify for the second round.
He reflected: "Back in 2000 we were also in a difficult group.
"Nobody gave us any chance at all but we still managed to make it out of the first round. Precedents do exist. It is possible to spring a surprise."
Hagi said the class of 2008 "must believe in their potential" and above all "start well against France (on June 9) as the first match is always the hardest".
After the French hors d'oeuvre Romania face Italy on June 13 followed by Holland on June 17.

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