‘I will hide in a monastery if we fail to qualify’

Romania coach Victor Piturca is looking for a minor miracle in Bucharest tonight as his side look to overturn a 3-1 deficit in their World Cup play-off second leg.

Piturca says he will “hide in a monastery” if his side fail to qualify for Rio.

But they face an uphill task against a Greece side renowned for its mean defence. Romania’s first goal, from striker Bogdan Stancu of Genclerbirligi, was the first Greece had conceded since March.

Piturca said: “If we manage to qualify, it will be extraordinary for Romanian football, and for myself.

“If we fail, you can forget about me for three months — I will hide in a monastery.”

Despite their advantage and strong defensive reputation, Greece’s Portuguese coach Fernando Santos will be taking nothing for granted.

Santos said: “We still need to go to Romania with a focused mindset as everything will be decided then. Nothing is over yet.

“We are at half-time in the tie so there is still plenty of work to do and we’ll have to show the same appetite and concentration in the second leg, so we don’t throw away what we have built on in Athens.”

Romania will hope Tottenham’s Vlad Chiriches can return to bolster their defence after missing the match in Greece due to a fractured nose. The 24-year-old could play wearing a protective mask.

Ciprian Marica could join Stancu up front in a more attacking formation in the second leg.

Regular first choice Ciprian Tatarusanu could also return in goal in place of Bogdan Lobont but midfielders Alexandru Bourceanu and Costin Lazar are suspended.

Greece also have a notable absentee through suspension after captain Kostas Katsouranis was booked in the first leg.

ROMANIA (probable): Tatarusanu, Gardos, Chiriches, Goian, Rat, Tanase, Maxim, Cocis, Torje, Stancu, Marica.

GREECE (probable): Karnezis, Holebas, Papastathopoulos, Torosidis, Maniatis, Siovas, Tziolis, Samaris, Mitroglou, Salpingidis, Samaras.

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