Steaua Bucharest’s return to Champions League competition after ten years in the wilderness begins with a tricky test against Dynamo Kyiv.
Dynamo coach Anatoli Demianenko will be without a number of key players tonight. Latvian forward Maris Verpakovskis and Ukraine midfielder Ruslan Rotan have joined Artem Milevskiy and Badr El Kaddouri on the injury list, along with the suspended Goran Sabljic.
“We have a lot of injured players,” confirmed Demianenko. “But what can we do about that? One must win by quality, not by quantity. It is very important to make a good start tomorrow, by giving the kind of performance we are capable of.”
Despite their absence from Europe’s premier competition, Steaua will be no pushover, acknowledges Demianenko.
“They are a pretty good team who deserved to be in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup last season,” he continued. “But they are just another opponent for us. We will take them on and we can win. The main thing is not to play by the opponents’ rules, but to play our own game.”
Steaua have injuries to captain Mirel Radoi and striker Victoras Iacob, but coach Cosmin Olaroiu is nonetheless relishing Steaua’s participation in the competition.
He said: “It has been ten years since our last appearance in the UEFA Champions League. It has been a long time and we and our supporters have really had to wait for this moment.
“We learnt a lot from last year when we got to the UEFA Cup semis. I think we are ready to be competitive in the UEFA Champions League. We are here in Kiev to play the Steaua style of football: we always play to win, never to draw.”
Olexandr Shovkovskiy; Marjan Markovic, Rodrigo, Rodolfo, Andriy Nesmachniy; Oleh Gusev, Ayila Yussuf, Carlos Corrêa, Serhiy Rebrov; Diogo Rincón; Maksim Shatskikh.
Carlos Alberto Fernandes; Stellian Stancu/Rahamin Saban, Dorin Goian, Sorin Ghionea, Mihai Nesu; Banel Nicolita, Sorin Paraschiv, Florin Lovin, Vasilica Cristocea; Cyril Thereau/Valentin Badea, Nicolae Dica.