Cyprus’ national football team suffered another crushing defeat, losing 3-1 to Spain at home to end the European Championship qualification campaign.
The defeat was Cyprus’ eighth consecutive loss in the Euro 2024 qualifying Group A, signalling one of the worst footballing campaigns in its history.
The game marked the end of a nightmare qualifying campaign, as the island finished with no points and a goal difference of minus 25 after eight losses.
Cyprus conceded a total of 28 goals and scored just three.
Cyprus and Georgia were the proclaimed underdogs in Group A, including Spain, Scotland, and Norway.
However, Cyprus suffered one of the poorest showings in its history.
The national team was even thrashed 4-0 by Georgia, a team not considered a footballing giant.
In recent games, Cyprus has also lost 6-0 to the Spanish and 4-0 to Norway.
As a result, Cyprus finished bottom of Group A with this latest defeat, leaving it one of only a few teams without a point.
It is the most porous defence in the competition, conceding two goals more than minnows San Marino (26).
San Marino has one more game to play in the competition, as its group comprises six teams, whereas Cyprus’ group has only five.
Following the Spain thumping, the atmosphere hangs heavy over coach Temur Ketsbaia, who focused on criticism of his defensive tactics.
“Of course, I would start the game with a defensive squad.
“They (his critics) simply do not understand football. Do you really want me to play an offensive game with Spain? You must be joking,” said Ketsbaia.
“That is why they are at home sitting on their couch.
“If they want my chair… what did they do to deserve it? At least I have contributed more than they did,” said the coach.
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 nine defeats.
The goal difference stands at ten goals scored and 43 conceded.
Sixteen-year-old Spaniard Lamine Yamal played a pivotal role in Spain’s 3-1 victory over Cyprus in Limassol, helping the team maintain its top position in the European Championship qualifying group.
Yamal’s opening goal showcased his skill with clever moves to outmanoeuvre the goalkeeper and a defender.
Mikel Oyarzabal and Joselu added to the lead with first-half goals, securing Spain’s victory.
Substitute Kostas Pileas scored Cyprus’ only goal in the match in the 75th minute after an assist by Charalampos Charalampous, who also came off the bench.
Spain, already qualified for Euro2024, holds a two-point lead in Group A over Scotland.
Spain’s final qualifying match is against Georgia in Valladolid on Sunday, while Scotland will host Norway.