After struggling in their first-ever qualifying campaign for the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™, when they suffered eight defeats in as many matches, Moldova, a member of football’s governing body since 1994, have gradually seen results and performances improve. Nevertheless, it was only during their campaign to reach Korea/Japan 2002 that the Moldovans first avoided finishing last in their group. Their attempts to reach South Africa 2010 ended in them once again picking up the wooden spoon, with just 3 points from ten encounters.
The current crop
Former Romania international Gavril Balint took up the reins of Moldova’s national side in January 2010. He undertook a complete overhaul of the squad, a decision that has since borne fruit. During the qualifying phase for UEFA EURO 2012, the former Soviet republic registered their first victory in a competitive match for almost three years, beating Finland 2-0 last September.
The key players
Balint has put together a young team, the majority of which are still in their mid-twenties, and usually does not think twice about giving fresh talent a chance to shine. He can also rely on more experienced heads such as captain and defender Alexandru Epureanu, midfielder Stanislav Ivanov and striker Igor Bugaiov.