Tonight in a 7:45 pm kick-off in Nicosia we will see Cyprus take on Greece in a match in Group H qualification. As things stand now, the Cypriot squad still mathematically possible for them to finish as runners-up. Despite a brilliant 3-2 win over Bosnia and Herzegovina in August, the Cypriots could not repeat the result in Estonia. A 1-0 defeat away put a serious dent into Cypriot hopes of their first World Cup appearance.
The Top 8 out of 9 runner-up teams make the playoffs and for one team their qualifying hopes will simply end next week.
Greece currently in third position a single point behind Bosnia and Herzegovina will need to beat Cyprus and see-off Gibraltar in the final match on Tuesday night. The Greeks knowing that only a Belgium victory against Bosnia on top of it, second place is theirs to lose, but they will still face a nervous wait to find out who will miss the cut for the playoffs.
Cyprus coach Ben Shimon has had to deal with a few injury concerns in the lead-up to this match. One big absence is that of Omonoia attacker Demetris Christofi. A recent injury in a league match means that the 29-year-old will misses out on this qualifier. APOEL’s George Efraim is unavailable while Konstantinos Mintikkis was left out of the squad, due to injury as well. Mintikkis was replaced by Marios Stylianou, a likely back-up to first-choice right-back Jason Demetriou.
Greek manager Michael Skibbe will be ecstatic to have seen Kostas Mitroglou training with the rest of the squad this week. The Marseille striker suffered a preseason knock that saw him miss Greece’s previous two qualifiers. However, there was bad news on Thursday as it was confirmed that Tasos Donis will miss Greece’s remaining two qualifiers due to injury. That will be a big blow to Greece as Donis has been amongst the team’s top performers in recent matches.
Dimitris Diamantakos was injured after the squad announcement and his place was taken by Nottingham Forest striker Apostolos Vellios.
Cyprus: Panagi, Demetriou, Laifis, Katelaris, Margaca, Laban, Artymatas, Charalambides, Kyriakou, Alexandrou, Sotiriou
Greece: Karnezis, Tzavellas, Papastathopoulos, Manolas, Torosidis, Maniatis, Zeca, Fortounis, Christodoulopoulos, Mantalos, Mitroglou
Article written by London Greek Radio