Romania hit by injuries ahead of qualifiers

September 1, 2008

BUCHAREST, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Romania are without several players for Saturday's World Cup qualifier at home to Lithuania and the match against the Faroe Islands four days later.

Coach Victor Piturca said striker Adrian Mutu, defenders Cristian Chivu and Razvan Rat and midfielder Florentin Petre would miss both games through injury.

Piturca also said there was a doubt over striker Ciprian Marica, who was injured playing for his German Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart at the weekend.

Steaua Bucharest have four players in the squad and Piturca criticised the Romanian club's decision to arrange a league match against Pandurii Targu-Jiu later on Monday, the same day the rest of the squad gather in Bucharest.

'Steaua officials have showed they are not interested in the national team's results,' Piturca told Reuters.

The coach tipped France and Serbia to dominate Group Seven.

'France are the favourites and Serbia, who have a good squad, are capable of finishing second,' said Piturca.

'Romania are third favourites. If we get six points from the first two games and seven from the first three I would be really happy.'

Austria are the other team in the group.