Football / World Cup: Humble pie on the menu for Hagi

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The Independent Online
ROMANIA arrived in Wales last night for their crucial Group Four match here tomorrow amid claims from the home camp about bloated egos and bulging waistlines.

Terry Yorath, preparing for a game Wales must win to stand a chance of qualifying for the finals, admitted he had studied video of the Romanians, but considered it unlikely that such scrutiny would have been reciprocated.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Goss - vying with Gary Speed to replace the suspended Mark Hughes - suggested that the playmaker once dubbed the Maradona of the Carpathians, Gheorghe Hagi, might share the Argentinian's propensity for carrying surplus pounds.

Hagi was recently quoted as disparaging their final opponents as an inferior side with less ability. His comments confirmed a trait Wales's manager had already identified. 'I don't think they'll make any special plans for our qualities because they've got an arrogance about them that would say they don't need to,' Yorath said. 'The last manager (Cornel Dinu) had a shocking arrogance about him, and informed me it wouldn't be a problem for Romania in Cardiff.'

Dinu was dismissed after the 5-2 capitulation to the Representation of Czechs and Slovaks in June. The manner and margin of that defeat, after which Anghel Iordanescu took charge, indicated to Yorath that Romania are far from invincible.

'Their strength is the speed of their movement off the ball and their technique,' he said. 'If we give them too much room, which we did in Bucharest, they will outplay us.'

Goss was looking forward to tangling with Hagi. 'The first impression is that he looks a bit overweight, but I understand he's God as far as Romanian football goes,' he said.

A place in the promised land of the United States next summer would guarantee deification for the Welsh side. They will certainly not lack support, even though tickets for the match show the wrong kick-off time. Yorath is hopeful that, come tomorrow, it will be the Romanians who do not know what time of day it is.