FA Cup debutants FC Romania eye Sutton United upset

FC Romania realise FA Cup dream

FC Romania aim to upset famous FA Cup giant-killers Sutton United in the second qualifying round on Saturday.

The Essex Premier Division side host Conference South outfit Sutton, who famously beat Coventry City in 1989.

"I hadn't heard of Sutton United before and I took a look on their website and heard the story about Coventry," midfielder Valentin Ilie said.

"If they could beat Coventry, why shouldn't we beat them? It's an important thing for me."

FC Romania, who were formed by Romanian Ionut Vintila in 2006, lie second in the Essex Premier Division, which is step five in the non-league pyramid.

FC Romania midfielder Valentin Vasile:
"We like the idea to be different. We are FC Romania and it is a national team for us. It's like home."

The Hertfordshire-based side, nicknamed the Wolves, play their home matches at Theobalds Lane, which is also the home of Cheshunt FC.

With a side made up predominantly of Romanian immigrants, FC Romania have won seven promotions since their formation and are making their debut in the FA Cup this season.

Former Steaua Bucharest and Espanyol striker Claudiu Raducanu, who won two international caps for Romania, previously played for the club, which Vasile says is a focal point for the Romanian community.

Former Romania captain Gheorghe Hagi and FC Romania
FC Romania were founded in 2006 - taking their colours from the Romania national team, for whom Gheorge Hagi starred at the World Cup in 1994

"When I left Romania I wasn't too sure if I was going to play football again," he told BBC London.

"Lots of people are coming here to work and most of them are football players as footballers are not paid well in Romania. That is the way this club has achieved so much in a short time.

"We like the idea to be different. We are FC Romania and it is a national team for us. It's like home.

"We attract people with our game. All the English clubs play long balls but we play shorter."

FC Romania's FA Cup run
Extra Preliminary Round, Aug 17: 0-0 v Haverhill Rovers (H)
Extra Preliminary Round replay, Aug 19: 3-0 v Haverhill Rovers (A)
Preliminary Round, Aug 31: 2-1 v Heybridge Swifts (H)
First Qualifying Round, Sep 13: 3-1 v AFC Sudbury (A)
Second Qualifying Round, Sep 27: v Sutton United (H)

FC Romania entered the competition at the extra preliminary round and have overcome Haverhill Rovers, Heybridge Swifts and AFC Sudbury to reach the second qualifying round.

Vintila, who is chairman and manager of the club, is excited by the challenge of facing Sutton, who beat Coventry - then in the top flight and FA Cup winners in 1987 - 2-1 in the third round in 1988-89.

"The first year we played Sunday League but then we moved to Saturday leagues," he said. "In 2010 my dream was for the team to play in the FA Cup.

"It is the oldest Cup competition in the world and we'll see what happens this Saturday. We are a young club so it will be a massive game and a big test for our players."