The Cyprus national team is urged to step up and make amends for last month’s embarrassing defeat to Malta in the 2023 World Cup qualifications at the National Stadium, in Ta’ Qali.
Led by coach Nikolaos Kostenoglou, Cyprus fell to their fifth defeat in Group H after losing 3-0 to Croatia on home soil.
After seven outings, Cyprus find themselves bottom of the table with four points like Monday’s opponents, Malta.
Although conceding 11 goals, four less than Malta, they found the net only once. Their sole goal came in the famous 1-0 victory over Slovenia on Matchday 3 when Cyprus seemed to be heading for a solid run in this group.
In fact, Cyprus (ranked 103rd), launched their campaign with an impressive goalless draw against Slovakia before losing just 1-0 against Croatia, on Croatian soil.
However, since defeating Slovenia, Cyprus failed to reignite and suffered four consecutive defeats without scoring a single goal – 0-3 vs Malta, 0-2, vs Russia, 0-2 vs Slovakia and 0-3 vs Croatia.
Kerkida.net journalist, Stelios Anastasiou, pointed out that there is a lot of pressure on the team to perform against the Malta national team, ranked 171st in the world.
“There is a lot of pressure on the coach and players for this game,” Anastasiou told to the Times of Malta.
“It won’t be a big success if we avoid the bottom spot, but it will be far more disappointing if we finish last.”
Anastasiou explained that the Malta fixture is important because Cyprus are at the back of a rough patch, without finding the net in the process.
“Nobody expected that Cyprus loses 3-0 to Malta in the first round,” he said.
“Our national team had started the campaign very well with a draw against Slovakia and a victory over Slovenia, with a difficult trip to Croatia in between.
Everybody started to believe that we could have our say in this group but ultimately, we collapsed after that Malta defeat.”