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Ambitious Unirea eager to repeat victory at home
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Updated May 21, 2014 6:59 PM ET
BUCHAREST, Romania (AP)
In only three years as coach, former Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu has taken Unirea Urziceni from a virtual nobody in the Romanian league to a Champions League contender. With four points from three matches, Unirea can move closer to the knockout round of Europe's top club competition on Wednesday by beating Rangers for the second time in two weeks.
The players have Petrescu to thank for that. "(It's like) he has no mother, no father, no family. Football is what counts for him," Unirea midfielder Tiberiu Balan said of his coach, who spent many years playing professionally in Italy and England. "Petrescu appealed to our pride. We will try and beat Glasgow again and slap them over the nose." The 41-year-old Petrescu has eschewed traditional training methods, relying on discipline, demanding dedication and pumping pride into his players. "I have my style of working. I don't hand out fines, but players know how to work hard for me," Petrescu said in an interview published in daily Pro Sport. "If they don't do it right I make them do it again. I do that every training session." Since Petrescu was appointed coach in 2006, Unirea reached the 2008 Romanian Cup final and qualified for last season's UEFA Cup. "He taught us to win," Balan said. "He's crazy about football. He is very involved in all details that for others could seem insignificant. For example he tells us to drink flat water. If he catches you with a soft drink, you're done for. "If you want boots you're not allowed colored ones. He says he can't accept immature players and players should only wear black boots. He's hard but he says we Romanians need the whip. And he's right." Unirea's 4-1 win over Rangers two weeks ago in Glasgow was the team's first ever in the Champions League and gave the team four points in Group G. Sevilla leads the group with nine points, but Unirea is second, two points ahead of Stuttgart and three more than Rangers. "I told the boys that I feel indebted to the club and they should feel indebted to me, to the club and to the country," Petrescu said. The Scottish champions are determined to show that last month's loss was a fluke. "They are far from unbeatable, but we need to remember what they did to us in the first game and hopefully turn it around," Rangers striker Kenny Miller said. "It was a very disappointing result. We have got to try to use that hurt to spur us on and hopefully get the right result, so we are coming in after the game in a different frame of mind." Rangers will be without Madjid Bougherra for the match at Steaua's Ghencea stadium. Bougherra is recovering from a knee injury and did not make the trip to Romania.
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