By Andreas Vou
Cyprus visit Andorra in Euro 2016 qualifying on Friday (9.45pm) where a win is required as they pursue their very first passage to a major tournament.
Pambos Christodoulou’s men currently lie in fourth spot in Group B, three points behind Israel who occupy the third and final qualifying position in the group. The Israelis face a tough trip to World Cup finalists Bosnia-Herzegovina at the same time.
The last time the two sides met in November, Cyprus ran out 5-0 winners in a hugely one-sided affair in Nicosia, though a defeat by the same scoreline against group leaders Belgium in their previous qualifier means that a win on Friday is all the more vital to remain in the hunt for third place.
Demetris Christofi has become somewhat of a talisman for the national team in the current campaign, highlighted by two goals against Bosnia which guided Cyprus to a famous away victory in September.
The 5-0 win over Andorra back in November has led many to believe that the Andorra game will be a formality but Christofi was quick to warn against such talk.
“The 5-0 has nothing to do with Friday’s game, it’s a different game, away from home and we have some absentees. Whoever is called upon to play, I’m sure they will give it their all to get the three points which is our aim.”
The 26-year-old striker has been out of action for his club side FC Sion of Switzerland in recent months due to a muscular injury but insists that he is fit enough to compete should the manager require his services.
“Of course. Seeing as I am here it means that I am ready to play. It is up to the manager, he knows best who should play. If I am selected, I will give my best.”
Nestoras Mitidis has started the last two qualifiers as the lone striker but has yet to find the net this campaign. The 24-year-old AEK Larnaca forward reiterated that a win will not come easily but that it is imperative.
“The game against Andorra is a very tough one even though some people believe differently. We are working with a lot of seriousness to be as ready as we can. Of course, our target is the win, nothing more, nothing less.”
Andorra have not won an international match since 2004 and have lost all but five games since that time. Cyprus go into the game as heavy favourites but away games have always been an Achilles heel for the national team, winning just three times on the road in the last ten years.