Cyprus will sign off from their 2014 World Cup qualifying group tonight at home to Albania hoping to salvage some pride after yet another disappointing campaign.
The island has picked up just one victory (1-0 Iceland ) and a draw (0-0 Switzerland) in nine qualifying matches and not even the arrival of former Greece under-21 and Panathinaikos boss Nicos Nioplias back in 2011 failed to revive Cyprus’ declining fortunes.
But he stepped down last month and has since been replaced by Cyprus Technical Director of Football Michalis Hadjipieris (photo) until a replacement is found.
Cyprus’ last three qualifiers have all ended in 2-0 defeats. In fact, it has been one day short of a year since Cyprus last scored in a qualifier – when APOEL’s Stathis Aloneftis netted in a 3-1 reverse at home to Norway at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium.
Since then, Cyprus have gone on a barren run in qualifying (0-0 Switzerland, 0-1 Switzerland, 0-2 Norway, 0-2 Slovenia and 0-2 Iceland). Cyprus’ last friendly was 3-1 defeat against Serbia on February 6 in Nicosia while three months before, the island fell to a 3-0 home defeat at the hands of Finland in another friendly at the GSP Stadium.
Cyprus returned from Reykjavik on the weekend on the end of yet another deflating defeat after Iceland – who would clinch a place in the World Cup playoffs with victory away to Norway tomorrow night – ran Cyprus ragged in their 2-0 win. The score-line could have been worse had it not been for some heroic goalkeeping by Platania shot-stopper Antonis Georgallides.
Ahead of the game against Albania – who are out of qualifying contention – Hadjipieris welcomes back defenders Elias Charalambous and Dossa Junior who both missed the game in Iceland through injury and their return will cover the absence of Apollon Limassol skipper George Merkis who picked up a yellow card suspension on Friday.
Cyprus will also be without the injured Demetris Christofi and Constantinos Makrides who both suffered injuries playing for their club sides, FC Sion and Metalurh Donetsk respectively.
The vacant Cyprus coaching position has seen several names attached to the top job on the island although one has publicly expressed an interest.
Stephen Constantine told The Cyprus Daily last month that he would be “honoured” to take over the national team having already plenty of international experience during his time in India, Nepal, Sudan and Malawi. Two seasons ago, he promoted Nea Salamina to the first division before taking over at Ethnikos Achnas the following season and steering them away from relegation.
Other candidates for the Cyprus job according to media sources include former Omonia and Alki boss Neophytos Larkou and Pambos Christodoulou who guided AEL to the league title two seasons ago.

Cyprus Daily

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