Friday 6 June 2008

Mutu undaunted by size of the task

Adrian Mutu believes that if Romania were to make it out of UEFA EURO 2008 Group C it would surpass their achievement of reaching the last eight in 2000.

Tougher challenge
Eight years ago Mutu, then 21, was in the Romania team that emerged from a group involving Portugal, England and holders Germany to reach the quarter-finals. The ACF Fiorentina striker is in his first major finals since that tournament and reckons that taking on FIFA World Cup winners Italy, the France team they defeated in that final, and the Netherlands is an even tougher challenge.

'Hardest group ever'
"It was a hard group in 2000 but we didn't have to play the World Cup winners and the team they played in the final," Mutu told "None of the teams wish to play in this group. It is the hardest group ever. We know that two teams will go home but we are ready to face the reality of our situation and fight for qualification."

Mutu made his first appearance at UEFA EURO 2000 as a second-half substitute for the great Gheorghe Hagi in the opening 1-1 draw with Germany. Now the burden of expectation falls on the shoulders of Mutu and captain Cristian Chivu, who also played in Belgium and the Netherlands, as they prepare for Monday's opening game in Zurich against the champions eight years ago, France.

Time to perform
Aiming for a similarly morale-boosting first result as in 2000, Mutu said: "France have a very good team with many skilful players, but they also have weak points. I am not going to tell you what those weaknesses are but there won't be many goal opportunities for us, so it's important to take any chances that come our way. We have a tough draw on paper and only those who like an adrenalin rush would bet on us, but we will do our best and a positive result against France would give us real impetus for the games against Italy and Holland. As our captain Cristian Chivu said, 'It's time for us to show what we can do'."