Mandinga, the band representing Romania at the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 contest, qualified into the final stage of the competition to be held Saturday, having passed Tuesday’s semifinals in Baku, Azerbaijan. Romania was the first country finalist announced. Despite Mandinga singer Elena Ionescu’s problems with her earphones, the band aptly performed the contest song “Zaleilah” composed by Costi Ionita, securing their place in the final. Eurovision organizers later on admitted the technical glitch and expressed their regret for the incident, according to Dan Manoliu, head of Romania’s delegation at the Eurovision. AFP, quoted by Mediafax, on Tuesday included Romania among the favorites of this year’s event, along with Russia, Italia, Serbia and Great Britain. Mandinga members told Mediafax about their determination to make a perfect Eurovision performance, as they aim to rank among the top five acts in the competition. “Our goal is to be among the top five countries in the standings. We would obviously like to win the Eurovision. We have been working long and hard at it. We’ve come here to make the Romanians proud and this is exactly what we will do on May 26,” said Alex, one of the band members. “Although we had encountered no technical problems at any of the rehearsals, it was bound to happen right while we were performing live in the semifinal. Fortunately, Elena, who is both very professional and an excellent artist, was able to cope with the situation,” Alex also said.The other semifinalists are R. of Moldova, Iceland, Hungary, Denmark, Albania, Cyprus, Greece, Russia and Ireland. The 10 finalists have been selected in equal share on the basis of televiewers’ preferences and the votes cast by a qualified jury.Eurovision will continue with the second semifinal today, where contestant countries will perform in the following drawing-lot-set order: Serbia, Macedonia, The Netherlands, Malta, Belarus, Portugal, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia, Sweden, Georgia, Turkey, Estonia, Slovakia, Norway, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lithuania. The countries qualified directly to the final are: Great Britain, France, Italy, Azerbaijan, Spain and Germany. This year’s Eurovision is held in Baku, Azerbaijan, given the Ell & Nikki duo was the winner of last year’s contest with the song “Running Scared”. In 2011, Romania was represented at Eurovision by Hotel FM, a band that ranked 17th in the final standings of the final held at Düsseldorf Arena, in Germany. Eurovision has become notorious over the years for its sometimes-poor music, bizarre performances and voting often criticized as political-minded. It is amazing how many countries handed their votes to their neighbors year by year. And yet Eurovision has built a devoted fan base over time and, despite the aforesaid complaints, some legendary acts such as ca Abba, Julio Iglesias, Johnny Logan and Celine Dion got their career break thanks to it.