BUCHAREST, Sept 17 Romania plans to naturalise
Argentine forward Juan Culio after he stunned Roma with two
goals that earned unheralded CFR Cluj a 2-1 win in their
Champions League group match.
"Culio played brilliantly," Romanian Soccer Federation head
Mircea Sandu told reporters on Wednesday. "I've asked (the
soccer authorities) to start getting the necessary documents."
Minutes after Tuesday's Group A match in Rome's Olympic
Stadium, Culio said he would be "happy to play for Romania".
"Of course, I'll accept if the national team's coach (Victor
Piturca) needs me," Culio said.
Piturca told Reuters on Wednesday: "Several foreigners from
CFR Cluj might enter into my sights if they get Romanian
citizenship, Culio among them of course."
Sandu said the paperwork needed for Culio's citizenship
might take too long for the player to be able to help Romania's
World Cup campaign after they lost 3-0 at home in their opening
qualifier against Lithuania.
Culio's double for Champions League newcomers Cluj earned
him praise in the local media.
"Coolio!" said the Pro Sport daily paper in a front-page
headline. "It was the greatest surprise ever produced by a
debutant team in the Champions League."
In Cluj city centre, some 1,000 fans celebrated until the
early hours after the unexpected win by a team which was playing
in the third division five years ago.
CFR Cluj executive president Iuliu Muresan praised his
foreign players, saying they had brought a winning mentality to
Last season, Cluj had 23 foreign players in the squad and
only six locals.
"CFR Cluj players showed great character after they managed
to fight back and beat Roma in front of an unfriendly crowd,
which ended up cheering them," Muresan told Reuters.
Culio, who worked as a bricklayer in Argentina to support
his family for six years from the age of 13, played for
Independiente Buenos Aires in 2005-2006. The 24-year old player
came to Cluj from Deportes La Serena of Chile in 2007.
(Reporting by Radu Timofte; Editing by Clare Fallon)