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National team among worst in Europe

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Cyprus national football team continues to decline rapidly, as it suffered another crushing 4-0 defeat in the Euro2024 qualifiers away to Georgia.

The defeat was Cyprus’ seventh consecutive loss in the Euro 2024 qualifying Group A, signalling one of the worst footballing campaigns in its history.

On Sunday night, Cyprus was thrashed 4-0 by Georgia, a team far from being considered a footballing giant.

Georgia and Cyprus were proclaimed the two underdogs in Group A, including Spain, Scotland, and Norway.

In recent games, Cyprus has also lost 6-0 to the Spanish and 4-0 to Norway.

Cyprus remains rooted at the bottom of Group A with this latest defeat and is one of only a few teams without a point.

This was the seventh defeat in as many games, leaving Cyprus with a dreadful goal difference of -23, scoring just two goals and 25 conceded.

It is the most porous defence in the competition, conceding one more goal than minnows San Marino (24).

Following the Georgia thumping, the atmosphere hangs heavy over coach Temur Ketsbaia, who shifted most of the blame onto his players, taking only a small part of the responsibility.

“The responsibility is shared by everyone, starting from me, down to the last player in the squad,” said Ketsbaia, who, however, made remarks about the players’ fitness.

“A team cannot perform exceptionally well in one half and poorly in the other without underlying issues, mainly related to physical fitness.

“The players are unable to perform at the level required to compete effectively,” snapped Ketsbaia.

The bad results, especially the team’s poor performance, have further tarnished the team’s image on the international stage and in the hearts of Cypriot fans who turn up to support them.

Criticism of Ketsbaia is inevitable, as is speculation about his future. Since he took over in June 2022, the team has only secured two victories one draw, and suffered nine defeats. The goal difference stands at nine goals scored and 40 conceded.

Losing streak

Cyprus last won a competitive game on September 24 2022, when they prevailed over Slovenia at home 1-0 for the Nations League.

According to the FIFA rankings last updated on September 21, Cyprus was 120 (expected to drop further following the recent results against Norway and Georgia), just two spots above Tanzania.

In the opening half against Georgia, Cyprus had put up a fight, crafting several promising scoring opportunities.

However, Georgia broke the deadlock one minute into the second half. Midfielder Otar Kiteishvili fired a long-range shot into the bottom right corner of the net.

Khvicha Kvaratshkelia, the Napoli winger, extended the lead by making it two. He was skillfully played into the penalty area and poked the ball past the goalkeeper on 58 minutes.

Kvaratshkhelia turned provider for the third goal, delivering a precise pass to Levaan Shengelia, the Panetolikos winger who struck the ball from the edge of the box with eight minutes to go.

A handball by centre-back Alexander Gogic inside the penalty area gave the hosts one final opportunity to score. Substitute striker Georges Mikautadze calmly converted the penalty in the fifth minute of added time.

Cyprus face Spain away on November 16 for the last matchday of the qualifiers.

Spain and Scotland have already qualified for the Euro 2024 in Germany next summer.