By Andreas Vou
THE Cyprus national women’s football team fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Greece in the final of the Aphrodite Cyprus Cup in Paphos on Wednesday afternoon.
In what was the first edition of the tournament, the host nation was unable to continue its winning streak and was outplayed by a far more experienced outfit, but their overall display was a huge step forward for the women’s game on the island.
The Greek team is ranked 69th in FIFA’s World Rankings while the Cypriots are currently 110th so it was no major surprise that the Hellenic neighbours came out on top.
Andros Vassiliou’s side, however, gave an excellent account of themselves throughout the competition, winning all three group games which guaranteed their passage to the final of the tournament.
In the group stage, Cyprus defeated Bahrain 1-0, Malta 2-1 and Azerbaijan by a solitary goal.
Vassiliou, after Cyprus topped their group in convincing fashion, spoke of his admiration for his team:
“There are no words to describe how great these girls are. They have endured a tremendous amount of fatigue in the last few days but that hasn’t stopped them. They have shown a great amount of passion, spirit and strength and have made all of Cyprus proud,” Vassiliou said.
“They have also done women’s football proud and for that they deserve to be congratulated a thousand times. They deserve to be noticed and acknowledged for their efforts,” he concluded.
Cyprus is quickly gaining a reputation as a hub for women’s football in Europe. It recently hosted the Cyprus Cup for the eighth consecutive year which saw England defeat Canada to earn their third such title. It gathers some of the top countries in the women’s game and the newly created Aphrodite Cup will only add to Cyprus’ popularity as a women’s football destination.
In recent weeks, Cyprus Football Association officials as well as the first team squad have been campaigning across the island to raise awareness of women’s football and, while it is still very much at an early phase, their latest strong performance will have hugely helped the cause.