Piturca quits Romania to join Saudi al-Ittihad

Former striker Piturca guided Romania to the European Championship finals in 2000 and 2008

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Coach Victor Piturca parted company with Romania by mutual consent on Thursday after agreeing to join Saudi Arabia's al-Ittihad.

"The Romanian Football Federation (FRF) has terminated its contract with Piturca by mutual agreement," the FRF said in a statement, adding that its president Razvan Burleanu will give more details at a news conference on Monday.

The announcement, which comes only two days after Romania's 2-0 win in Finland in a Euro 2016 qualifier, ends weeks of speculation about Piturca's future. His contract was due to expire in 2016.

Piturca, wearing al-Ittihad's yellow-black scarf, confirmed his move to the Saudi Arabian side soon after signing a contract with club officials in Bucharest.

The 58-year-old, who was in his third spell as Romania coach, refused to disclose details and told reporters more would be revealed at a news conference on Friday.

Al-Ittihad also announced the move on their Twitter account.

The eight-time Saudi champions are second in the domestic league with 18 points from six matches, below al-Nassr on goal difference.

Under Piturca, Romania made a solid start to their qualifying campaign and are second in Group F with seven points from three matches, two points behind surprise leaders Northern Ireland.

Former striker Piturca guided Romania to the European Championship finals in 2000 and 2008 - the last time the Black Sea country managed to reach the finals of a major tournament, during his previous reigns.

Piturca, who managed 96 matches for Romania, is considered one of the best coaches in the country despite being criticized by some pundits for his tactical, defensive approach.

"Perhaps it was an offer he could not refuse," Romania captain Ciprian Marica told local media. "We only have to respect his choice and wish him luck."

Romanian media have identified Ladislau "Laszlo" Boloni, Dan Petrescu, Cosmin Olaroiu and Cosmin Contra as Piturca's most likely replacements.

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