The man who ended Celtic’s Champions League dream believes the eight-in-a-row Scottish champions ‘deserve’ to sail straight through to the group stages.
CFR Cluj manager Dan Petrescu joined talkSPORT the morning after his side’s stunning 4-3 victory at Celtic Park.
And he vented his annoyance at UEFA over the number of games teams are forced to play just to qualify for Europe’s elite competition, despite being crowned champions of their county last season.
Speaking on Wednesday’s Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast, Petrescu – the former Chelsea defender – hailed his team’s ‘unbelievable achievement’ in Parkhead, but concedes they are unlikely to go any further in the Champions League.
Having already played three tough qualifiers, he believes their final match against Slavia Prague may be a step too far.
Petrescu led Cluj to the Romanian title last season – their third in a row – and he believes that should be enough for his team, and Scottish champions Celtic, to go directly to the group stage.
He said: “For my club it’s unbelievable because we won against Astana – a better club with more money – then we beat Macabi Tel Avivf rom Israel – a better club with a better budget – and now we’ve beat Celtic.
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“But now to qualify for the group stage we have to win against Slavia Prague and in my opinion it’s too much.
“To play four rounds before you arrive in the group stages, I don’t understand the rules. For UEFA, I don’t understand why Celtic should also play the preliminary rounds.
“We’ve won the league the last three years in Romania and we work so hard to win the league but the next season you can still go out [of the Champions League] straight away, I don’t understand.
“I think Romania and Scotland deserve their champions to go directly to the group stage.”