Cyprus Mail
Football Sport

Cyprus aim to bounce back against injury-ravaged Wales

After a stunning away win over Bosnia in their group opener, Cyprus slumped to a home defeat to Israel on Friday

By Andreas Vou

Cyprus are looking to get their European qualifying campaign back on track following a disappointing home defeat to Israel when they face Wales at the Cardiff City Stadium on Monday night.

Pambos Christodoulou’s side made the ideal start to their campaign by defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina in their opening group game. The result led to an expectant crowd of 19,164 spectators for last Friday’s game against Israel in Nicosia but Cyprus were undone by an efficient side and narrowly went down to a 2-1 defeat.

Cyprus currently sit in fourth place in Group B after one win and one defeat in the opening two games while Wales top the group following their 0-0 draw against Bosnia to add to their opening win against Andorra.

Christodoulou was keen not to dwell on the recent disappointment against Israel and instead preferred to speak of the new challenge at hand against a capable Wales side.

“We will face a strong and experienced team. For us, there are no easy games, we see all of them as serious. We know who we are and we aim to build a team for the future.
“I would be pleased with a draw but we will fight for the win,” said Christodoulou. “This competition consists of ten matches and we have played just two.”

The biggest threat for Cyprus is, of course, Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale, who believes that Monday’s encounter is a must-win match for his country.

“We go into Cyprus full of confidence but knowing we need to focus and concentrate. We need to get the three points,” said the world’s most expensive player.
“Hopefully we can get another big crowd here on Monday and do them proud and get three points.”

Welsh manager Chris Coleman has a number of injury concerns going into Monday’s game with 11 players out through injury, including

Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, and admitted that his squad is now very limited.
“It’s (down to the) bare bones but there’s enough about this group, we’ve got enough to be positive going into this game.”

Swansea City centre-back Ashley Williams was quick to deny that Cyprus would be easy opponents after defeating one of the group’s most fancied teams.

“Cyprus are a very dangerous side, they showed that against Bosnia. We should have beaten Bosnia but we didn’t manage to,” said the 30-year-old.

Stathis Aloneftis missed Friday’s match and has been ruled out of the trip to Cardiff but Christodoulou looks set to welcome back Giorgos Efrem from injury. As well as Aloneftis, goalkeeper Antonis Georgallides looks set to miss out after suffering a groin injury against Israel and is likely to be replaced by APOEL keeper Tasos Kissas.

The visitors will have strong support with them in the Welsh capital with a number of Cypriots based all around the United Kingdom, both students and permanent residents, expected to make the journey to Cardiff to support their country.

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