By Nemanja Bjedov
Anorthosis coach Christakis Kassianos is optimistic ahead of his team’s Europa League second qualifying round clash with Swedish side Gefle IF on Thursday evening at Larnaca’s Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium.
“Every day that passes we get better,” said Kassianos.
“We are now a team with a lot of quality players, but we did not have enough time together to reach the desired level of performance. However, we have lots of European experience and obviously our goal is to advance to the next round.”
While Gefle trounced Estonia’s JK Trans Narva 8-1 on aggregate in the competition’s first qualifying round, Anorthosis lost their ultimate friendly match 5-0 to Apollon ahead of the Europa clash.
“We played four friendly matches well and only one badly. I do not want to discuss it again as this does not help anyone. What we must do is to learn from our mistakes and focus on the match against Gefle,” added Kassianos.
The coach will set a late fitness test for Uruguayan forward Gonzalo Garcia, and will definitely be unable to count on Georgian midfielder Shota Grigalashvili, who has yet to start practising with the team. If Garcia fails the test, his spot will most likely be taken by Marcinho.
“The opponent is more prepared than us,” admitted Kassianos, “but on the other hand we have a big name and probably more experience, skill and overall quality … We are passionate about what we do and we have that required thirst for victory as well as financial reasons to perform as well as we possibly can.
“We will be ready for the match and hopefully it will be a display worthy of our rich history.”
The Larnaca clash is scheduled to kick off at 8pm and will be played without spectators as Anorthosis is serving a UEFA ban of three matches behind closed doors for abandoning the match against Georgian side Dila Gori, a few minutes before the final whistle, in last season’s third qualifying round.
On the same night, Nicosia powerhouse Omonia commence their Europa campaign against Romanian team FC Astra Giurgiu, with the match scheduled to start at 8.30pm.
Toni Savevski has a complete squad to choose from for this season’s Europa League opener, including midfielder Georgios Efrem who lately did not train in full regime with the team.