What would perennial strugglers Cyprus bring to the table in this group other than a welcome two points for their opponents? There had not been a whole lot during their last qualification, the one ahead of the 1988 European Championships, which suggested they would be anything but also-rans once again, even if they had managed to grind to a halt Poland’s good start: Cyprus’ 0-0 draw in Gdańsk would’ve been hailed as an achievement, especially after they’d lost their first four fixtures. The Polish had come into that game after three points in two matches, and following up from their excellent scoreless draw in the Netherlands.
Manager had been Panikos Iakovou, who by the start of the World Cup qualification now in 1988 was 47 years of age, but who had been parted with after that tie in the Polish port city. He had been succeeded temporarily by Takis Kharalambous, although Iakovou would be reappointed before the start of the 1990 qualification.
Cyprus had not played a single international during 1988 until an October friendly at home to Mediterranean Ocean rivals Malta (a 1-0 defeat), so they were surely something of an unknown quantity coming into the qualification. They would be playing three of their eight qualifiers before the end of the calendar year, rounding off in Yugoslavia (Belgrade) in December.
It is probable that Cyprus would’ve been hoping that they could achieve a scare or two among their opponents, and perhaps also to develope aspects to their game, but to neutrals they would’ve been expecting to lose all eight of their qualifiers. They were equipped with solely domestically based players. Pezoporikos Larnaca were reigning league champions, and would be representing the nation in the 1988/89 edition of the European Cup.
12.10.1988 Cyprus 0-1 Malta
Line-up: Pantziaras – Savva (Petrosian h-t), Kastanas, Miamiliotis, Sokratous (Orfanidis h-t), Pittas – Nikolaou, Yiangoudakis (c), Koliantris (Tsingis h-t) – Hristofi, Ioannou (Xiouroupas h-t)
22.10.1988, Makáreio Stádio (Nicosia)
Cyprus 1-1 France
Goal: Pittas (pen.)
Line-up (5-3-2): Pantziaras – Savva, Stavrou, Miamiliotis, Khristodoulou, Pittas – Nikolaou, Petsas, Yiangoudakis (c) – Kantilos, Khristofi (Giannos Ioannou 76)
Sensationally, Cyprus claim a point as they stave off the French threat without too much hassle. Yes, they’d needed to come from a goal down, but they’d limited the opposition to a minimum of chances, and despite their own inability to press the visitors back, they’d struck home a late penalty to cause a serious upset. It was an outcome which was right up there with the best ever Cyprus results internationally.
02.11.1988, Tsíreio Stádio (Limassol)
Cyprus 0-3 Norway
Line-up (5-3-2): Pantziaras – Savva, Stavrou, Miamiliotis, Khristodoulou (Kastanas 24), Pittas – Nikolaou, Savvidis, Yiangoudakis (c) – Kantilos (Koliantris 71), Khristofi
Cyprus had arrived for the fixture in buoyant mood following that stunning draw with France, and they must have had high hopes for a rare international win. However, despite putting the visitors to the sword in the first half an hour, they failed to produce any telling outcome, and so their efforts would turn into despair. They would concede three second half goals, and it was back to the drawing board for the management. Centre-back Khristodoulou appears to have picked up an injury, having been replaced around halfway through the first period.
23.11.1988 Malta 1-1 Cyprus
Goal: Giannos Ioannou
Line-up: Pantziaras – Kalotheu (Kastanas 83), Khristodoulou, Papakostas, Stavrou, Pittas – Kantilos (Khatziloizou 51), Petsas (Tsingis 34), Nikolaou (c), Khristofi (Giannos Ioannou 75) – Giannakis Ioannou
11.12.1988, Stadion Crvena Zvezda (Belgrade)
Yugoslavia 4-0 Cyprus
Line-up (5-4-1): Pantziaras – Antrellis, Khristodoulou (Kastanas 65), Papakostas, Stavrou, Pittas – Tsingis, Yiangoudakis (c), Nikolaou, Savva – Giannos Ioannou (Petsas 78)
08.02.1989, Tsíreio Stádio (Limassol)
Cyprus 2-3 Scotland
26.04.1989, Hampden Park (Glasgow)
Scotland 2-1 Cyprus
21.05.1989, Ullevaal Stadion (Oslo)
Norway 3-1 Cyprus
11.10.1989 Cyprus 0-0 Malta
28.10.1989, Olympiakó Stádio (Athens, Greece)
Cyprus 1-2 Yugoslavia
18.11.1989, Stadium Municipal (Toulouse)
France 2-0 Cyprus
Final position: 5 (out of 5)
Total record: 8 0 1 7 6-20 1
Home record: 4 0 1 3 4-9 1
Away record: 4 0 0 4 2-11 0
Number of players used:
Number of players including unused substitutes:
Ever-presents (720 mins):
– game by game
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