Romania has won the Minifootball World Cup, the only trophy it lacked in this competition
Today only a shadow of what it used to be in the past, the Romanian sport has been mediocre for decades. And this fact amplifies the fans' nostalgia for a past that has often been described as brilliant. Among the best Romanian performances and athletes along the years we recall the first number one in men's tennis between 1972-1973, Ilie Nastase. In 1976, at the Olympics in Montreal, the multiple world champion Nadia Comaneci was awarded the first 10 in the history of gymnastics. In 1986, Romanian football side, Steaua Bucharest, made up only of Romanian footballers, became the first eleven from behind the Iron Curtain to have won the Champions Cup.
Between the 60s and 70s, Romania's national handball side became world champions four times, while in 1984, at the Los Angeles Olympics, boycotted by the other USSR satellites, Romania came second in the medal ranking after the American hosts. Romania has produced only a few champions in recent years such as tennis player Simona Halep, handballer Cristina Neagu or swimmer David Popovici. Against this drought, the title of world champion has been enthusiastically hailed by both sports fans and the specialized press. The joy was all the more so intense as the World Cup finals, staged in the United Arab Emirates kept everybody breathless as the Kazakh opponents got a 2-0 upper-hand several minutes from time.
When the points seemed to be sealed, Marius Balogh scored twice and brought the game into extra-time. At a two-all draw the fate of the game was decided in the penalty shootout, won by Romania 12-11.Bogdan Covaci scored the victory goal after the Romanian goalie had deflected the opponent's last shot.Before the finals, the Romanians had an impeccable progress. 10-1 against Sudan, 3-2 against Spain and a goaless draw with the United States. They also secured a 7-0 win against Thailand in the round of 16, 2-0 against the United Emirates in the quarters and 3-0 against Hungary in the semifinals.
The world champion trophy was the only one that Romania lacked after being six times European champions and vice-champions. Romania also got two bronze medals in the World Cup out of three participations. November had a good start for the Romanian football fans, but the main performance is expected from the national football side, which takes on Israel in Hungary, on November 18 and Switzerland in Bucharest three days later. These are their last games in the Group One of the EURO 2024 preliminaries.
Undefeated in their first eight games, Romania tops the group's ranking with 16 points, followed by Switzerland with 15 out of seven games and Israel with 11 out of six. Due to the war at home, the Israelis had to postpone their games last month and play their home matches abroad. The first two sides in the group will book tickets for the final tournament. Romania hasn't qualified for a European tournament since 2016 and for a World cup since 1998.