Wednesday’s friendly at AEK Arena pits together Cyprus and Czech Republic, the two teams who meet for the first time since 2007. The Cypriotes aim to put an end to their five-game losing run, and they are likely to go all guns blazing at the Czechs. However, home win should not be considered as Johan Walem’s men have been struggling in front of goal in the Nations League group stages.
Czech Republic, on the other hand, did remarkably well to secure automatic qualification for the European Championship finals. The visitors will use this friendly to prepare for the Nations League clash against Israel, and seeing that boss Jaroslav Silhavy is likely to mix the squad, we are tempted to put our money on draw. One thing is for sure, the out-of-form hosts are likely to leave their hearts on the field as they need to regain a much-needed confidence.
This match will be played on 07/10/2020
HIGHLIGHTED PLAYER (GEORGIOS EFREM):
Born in Limassol, Cyprus on 5 July, 1989 Georgios Efrem played for his hometown club Apollon Limassol during his youth career, but in 2004 he joined Premier League club Arsenal at the age of 15. In 2007 he moved to Rangers, but he didn’t see any game action with the Gers at senior level.
The pacey winger, who is capable of playing as an attacking midfielder as well, returned to Cyprus in 2009, signing a deal with Omonia. After scoring 25 goals in 134 league appearances for the club, the 171-cm-tall footballer joined fellow Cypriot outfit APOEL on 6 June, 2014. Efrem made his debut for the club against Helsinki on 30 July, 2014 in the Europa League qualifying match.
It has to be noted that he was named the best player of the 2015/2016 Cypriot First Division campaign. The APOEL winger made his Cyprus debut on 3 March, 2010 in a goalless draw with Iceland. Four years later he scored his first ever hat-trick for the Cypriot national team in a 5-0 triumph over Andorra.
HIGHLIGHTED TEAM (CZECH REPUBLIC):
Czech Republic national team is the natural successor of the Czechoslovakia side that dominated world football during the 20th century, winning one European Championship trophy and coming second at 1934 and 1962 World Cups. After the separation of the country in 1992, Czech Republic continued the proud tradition by qualifying for each of the next six European Championship finals, losing to Germany in the final of the 1996 tournament.
The Czechs also reached the last eight at the 2012 finals, but their World Cup record of late is pretty disappointing. Since separating from Slovakia, Czech Republic only qualified for one of five World Cup finals. The 1996 generation, featuring players like Pavel Nedved, Karel Poborsky and Patrik Berger, will forever remained etched in the fans’ memory, while the likes of Milan Baros, Jan Koller, Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky are some of the other notable footballers.
Highly rated goalkeeper Petr Cech is the team’s most capped player, whereas towering forward Jan Koller tops the goalscoring charts with 55 strikes in 91 games.