Temuri Ketsbaia has described Anorthosis Famagusta’s Champions League fixture against Panathinaikos as a “historic moment” as Cyprus prepares for its first ever taste of Europe’s elite competition.
Anorthosis made their group-stage debut with a highly impressive draw at Werder Bremen, a meeting made possible by an unlikely 3-1 aggregate triumph over Olympiakos in the third qualifying round.
“It will be a very hard game but we are used to that now,” said Ketsbaia. “Our previous matches in Europe have also been hard but we prevailed because we have a strong squad with good players. We will need to show those qualities if we want to beat Panathinaikos.”
Ketsbaia is as aware as anybody of the importance of avoiding slip-ups.
“At this level every mistake is costly so we will try to minimise our mistakes,” said the 40-year-old, who has no new injury concerns. “[Panathinaikos] have experienced players who have played at the highest level so we need to be wary of them. They also have quick players so we will have to adjust ourselves accordingly.
“This is a historic moment – our first group-stage game in Cyprus,” Ketsbaia continued. “We showed in our first group game [the stalemate in Bremen] that we have ability and we want to show that our participation in the group stage is no fluke. Judging by the result of our first game, we have shown that the team can climb even higher.”
Panathinaikos are looking to bounce back from a 2-0 home loss to Internazionale in their Group B opener. That defeat was compounded by a calf injury to Giorgos Karagounis which could rule him out until mid-October. Vangelis Mantzios (appendix) and Christos Melissis (flu) are also missing for Wednesday’s tie.
“Anorthosis are a better team without the ball than with the ball,” said the coach Henk Ten Cate. “I saw them in their last league game and they only managed to score after sitting back and taking advantage of a mistake by the opposition. They are a team renowned for waiting, waiting and waiting. They are a dangerous counterattacking side and we need to be cautious.”