By Andreas Vou
Following a shock win away to Israel on Saturday, Cyprus can make history by clinching third spot in Group B of Euro 2016 qualifying if they defeat Bosnia-Herzegovina on Tuesday in Nicosia (9.45pm).
The odds were stacked against Pambos Christodoulou’s men going into their trip to Jerusalem but Cyprus defied the odds with a 2-1 win which now leaves them with a chance of making the playoffs.
Cyprus occupy fifth place on 12 points but a win on Tuesday would see them leapfrog Bosnia who are on 14 points. Cyprus will then need the already-qualified Belgium to avoid defeat at home to Israel in order to secure third position.
The country has never qualified for the finals of a major international football tournament.
It will be a tough ask for Cyprus against a talented Bosnia side who demonstrated their capabilities on Saturday in a 2-0 win over Wales even without talisman Edin Dzeko. Nevertheless, Cyprus will look to their opening group game win over Bosnia in Zenica for motivation and belief as they go in search of another surprise victory.
On that day, Dimitris Christofi scored twice in a 2-1 victory which sent shockwaves throughout Europe. This time, Cyprus will have to make do without their speedy forward who remains injured.
For the game against Israel, Christodoulou welcomed back Giorgos Efrem having been without the winger for the last two internationals and will be relying on the APOEL man’s pace as a valuable outlet against Bosnia.
The visitors are sweating over the fitness of star striker Dzeko who was fit enough to make the bench but not well enough to feature against Wales. The 29-year-old, who is both captain and all-time record goal scorer of the Bosnian national team, would be a huge loss for the visitors should he be unable to play. Ahead of the game, Dzeko was more keen to talk about the positives rather than his own fitness and sets out to get revenge for the defeat Cyprus inflicted upon Bosnia last year.
“The hard work of the team brought the result we wanted against Wales. Everything went well. About me, I was not ready but thankfully the players did their job. Now it all depends on us,” said the former Manchester City striker, before adding: “We go to Nicosia to get revenge for the defeat in Zenica.”
Despite the doubt surrounding Dzeko, Mehmed Bazdarevic has plenty of talent in reserve as demonstrated in Bosnia’s win over Wales and the manager is confident of getting the result his side need to make third spot.
“We certainly need a positive result in order to book our place in the playoffs and, from there on, get to where we want to go. The important thing is to do what we did against Wales, which put us in the position we are in today,” the Bosnian coach told reporters.
Cyprus defender Dossa Junior, who scored the first goal in the win over Israel on Saturday, was in buoyant mood and called for the locals to fill the GSP Stadium to help push the team over the line.
“We now await everybody at the GSP on Tuesday and I hope, whoever comes, leaves proud. The fans were by our side throughout the whole campaign and I am sure that, for the last group game, our opponents will feel as they are playing away from home.”
Tickets have been selling fast ahead of arguably the biggest match in the history of the national team.