Romania's national football team has booked its ticket
to the Tokyo Olympic Games following a 56-year gap. We recall that the last time
Romanian took part in an edition of the Olympics was also in Japan, in 1964.
Romania's national team back then had a spectacular
qualification trail for the Olympics. Two preliminary rounds had been required
in order to achieve that. In the first leg against Denmark, Romania succeeded a
3-2 win, away, and everybody was pretty relaxed regarding the return home leg.
It's just that the Danish did not agree to that, so much so that in Bucharest,
they had grabbed a 3-nil advantage halfway through the first half of the match.
Yet Romania scored twice and a play-off match
followed, according to regulations, which was hosted by Turin in Italy. After
90 minutes of regular play, the display of the scoreboard showed 1-all. Extra
time had to be played, and in 117th minute, the winning goal was
scored by Mircea Sasu, who played for the B-division team Minerul Baia Mare.
The second preliminary round saw Romania facing Bulgaria. Back then Romania
made short work of their opponents, winning 2-1 on home turf and 1-nil, away.
In the Olympic tournament, Romania was ascribed to
Group A, alongside Mexico, Iran, and the so-called team of united Germany,
actually an East-German lineup. On October 11, 1964, Romania defeated Mexico,
3-1. Then on October 13, a 1-all draw followed, against Germany. On October 15,
Romania grabbed a 1-nil win against Iran and then made it to the quarterfinals,
being the runner-up team in Group A while the team from East Germany was at the
top of the table.
One of the best teams at that time, Hungary, was Romania's
challenger in the fight for a place in the semifinals. In the game venued by a
stadium in Yokohama, on October 18, 1964, Hungary's Tibor Csernai drew first blood
on 2 minutes. Romania's captain Gheorghe Constantin wasted the team's biggest
chance to level the score when the referee granted Romania a penalty kick six
minutes before the final whistle. Hungary did turn into a goal the penalty kick
they were granted shortly afterwards, again thanks to Tibor Csernai. In the
semifinals, Hungary trounced Egypt, 6-nil, also winning the final against