Scottish Daily Mail




CYPRUS boss Temuri Ketsbaia has challenged his players to spring a shock at Hampden this afternoon and prove they won’t be the whipping boys in the Euro qualifiers. The Cypriots are ranked 110 in the world, 68 places below Scotland, and are the bottom seeds in a group also containing Georgia, Spain and Norway. But, despite the odds being stacked against his side, Ketsbaia is confident the visitors can cause Steve Clarke’s side plenty of problems as the campaign gets under way. Insisting that his team can prove people wrong, he also feels the atmosphere of a soldout crowd at Hampden can inspire his players to glory. ‘We are starting off in this city of Glasgow,’ said the former Dundee midfielder. ‘The Scottish national team is very good, but we hope to have a good result. ‘Our team is ready. We have trained well and believe we can have a good match. It is nice to hear the stadium will be full. ‘We know that many of the Scotland players are playing in the Premier League in England. ‘The Scotland team has improved a lot. They have players who are playing at a really high level with their clubs. But we have improved a lot. Many of our players are in good teams for their clubs. ‘We expect that we can compete with Scotland and get a good result. ‘My players are ready. Maybe some haven’t seen 50,000 fans in the stadium before. But it’s better to play in these kind of matches than ones where there is no crowd and it’s empty. ‘I hope this can be motivation and can inspire the players. The last couple of games against Scotland have been close, so we will try to take the next step now and get a victory. ‘We know that we are not the favourites in our group or for many games that we play. But you can use this as motivation to prove people wrong. ‘This is one thing we need to have in our mind. I don’t think Scotland will underestim­ate us. ‘They are not in that kind of position where they can think it will be an easy three points. ‘We want to show that we can play good football and fight to get a result.’ Having enjoyed spells in charge of Anorthosis Famagusta, Apoel Nicosia and the national team in his native Georgia, Ketsbaia (pictured) took charge of Cyprus last year. He has had four games in charge thus far, winning two and losing the other two, and is looking forward to a reunion with Clarke and Scotland assistant John Carver. The trio worked together back in the 1990s at Newcastle and Ketsbaia admires the work of his former colleagues. He added: ‘It was a long time ago at Newcastle. Steve was one of the coaches and John Carver was working there. ‘We met each other in Germany when the draw was made a few months ago. We have a good relationsh­ip. ‘Steve has done a fantastic job with Scotland over the past few years. ‘Throughout my career, I’ve been lucky to work with some great coaches. You always learn from them.’ On his time at Dundee, where he won the club’s Player of the Year, Ketsbaia added: ‘I had a great time in Dundee and met some great people. I enjoyed my football there. I know they are not in the Premiershi­p right now, but I hope they can come back. The fans deserve it.’

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