Cyprus Mail
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Cyprus ready for World Cup qualifying double header

DEMETRIS Christofi is a major doubt for Cyprus’ forthcoming World Cup qualifying games against Norway and Slovenia after suffering an ankle injury at one of the final training sessions ahead of the double header.
“We have two very difficult matches ahead of us. We need to try to replicate our level of performance from the last two qualifiers against Switzerland. Players must show passion, discipline and enthusiasm. All those were present against Switzerland and that is the only way to be competitive in matches such as this one,” said Cyprus national team coach Nikos Nioplias.
“Some selection problems are obviously present, but we must learn to cope with these because regardless of whether you wanted them or not, they are always going to be there.
“The Norwegians must win in order to stay in contention for qualification and we hope that we can exploit this,” added Nioplias whose side face Norway on Friday night at 8pm at the Ullevaal Stadium in Oslo.
Elias Charalambous and Constantinos Makrides are unavailable for selection due to suspension, while Paraskevas Christou and Georgios Efrem are both out injured.
Although he is almost certain to miss the Norway clash, Christofi could recover in time to feature against Slovenia on Tuesday at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia. Nioplias has also included Jason Demetriou in the squad after the 25-year-old defender impressed in Anorthosis’ win over Omonia in the opening round of the national championship.
“The atmosphere in our camp is good and we all know that we must win this match,” said Norway skipper Brede Hangeland.
“Six points from these two upcoming matches is what we are aiming for and this is the only way for us to retake control of our World Cup qualifying fate,” concluded the Fulham defender ahead of Norway’s clash with Switzerland, also in Oslo, four days after the Cyprus clash.
Last October, Cyprus lost to Slovenia 2-1 in Maribor with Efstathios Aloneftis scoring late to set the final score, while a few days later Norway celebrated a 3-1 victory over Cyprus in Larnaca with Aloneftis yet again the sole scorer for the hosts.
Cyprus are currently bottom of Group E with four points from six matches. They beat Iceland 1-0 at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium in Larnaca last September and then snatched a point from group leaders Switzerland, after a goalless draw, in March in Nicosia.
Mathematically, they can still qualify, but they need to win all four of their remaining games and hope other results go their way.

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