Anorthosis Famagusta FC Becomes First Cypriot Team to Qualify for Champions League
Nicosia, Aug 28 - Cypriot football champion Anorthosis Famagusta FC has become the first Cypriot team to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage.
Anorthosis, a refugee club from Famagusta, under Turkish occupation since 1974, lost Wednesday night 0 - 1 to Olympiakos Piraeus, during the second leg against the Greek champion, but succeeded in qualifying for the Champions League groups after beating the Greek team 3-0 in the first leg.
Fernando Belluschi scored the only goal at 54' in the packed Georgios Karaiskaki Stadium in Athens.
Anorthosis held firm and celebrated in the end an unprecedented success for Cypriot football.
The Cypriot team returned home the same night to a hero's welcome as thousands of jubilant supporters cheered their team at Larnaca airport.
The chartered flight landed at the airport in the early hours of Thursday.
In statements after arriving in Cyprus, Anorthosis coach Temuri Ketsbaia congratulated his football players and said his team deserved to qualify for the UEFA Champions League groups.
“We are very happy because a small team, a small country, has succeeded in entering the Champions League groups” he said.
For Mr. Ketsbaia his footballers “have already won the Champions League.”
Anorthosis’ success was celebrated by thousands of fans all over Cyprus.
Temuri Ketsbaia's team had overcome SK Rapid Wien. In the first leg at home Anorthosis had won 3-0 and were defeated 3-1 away.
Cyprus President Demetris Christofias has conveyed his warm congratulations to the team and in a telegraph to the President of Anorthosis Andreas Panteli, Christofias said “warm congratulations on the major achievement of Anorthosis to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage. Anorthosis’ triumph has made us all proud.”
Christofias wished Anorthosis new success and conveyed warm congratulations to the club’s Board, its coach Temuri Ketsbaia and its players.
Congratulations have also been pouring in for Anorthosis from various quarters, including the head of the Church of Cyprus Archbishop Chrysostomos II, political parties, youth organizations and others.