Cyprus faces tough challenge in a bid to broaden its European horizons
2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men
Limassol, Cyprus, May 11, 2012. Cyprus is ready and willing for yet another bid at breaking free from the bonds of the Small Countries Division as the local heroes take on a formidable opponent in the first round of the 2013 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men. Cyprus hosts Romania on Sunday evening at 19:00 local time (16:00 GMT) at “Spyros Kyprianou” sports centre and aims at making a first step on its quest to advance to the second qualification round scheduled for next September.
However, the problem set before the islanders to solve is a hard one to crack. Romania may not be any more the powerhouse of the 1950s and 1960s that amassed two silver and two bronze World Championships medals, as well as being crowned European champions in 1963 and runners-up in 1955 and 1958. Nonetheless, the Balkan side is on a steady rise, having finished 4th in both the 2010 and 2011 editions of the CEV Volleyball European League, up from 10th in 2009.
Cyprus meanwhile has completely dominated the Small Countries Division of the European Championship since 1996 without exception and is seeking to broaden its horizons with that all-elusive qualification in the “big boys” competition.
It is the first time in history that the two teams come head-to-head. “I am proud of my players who up until now have responded in a very professional way to the high-level requirements of our preparation,” said the head coach of Cyprus, Costas Delikostas. “I hope that against Romania we will be successful in bringing onto the court all the technical and tactical elements that we have been working on”.
Cyprus concluded its preparation with a friendly match against the Netherlands, earlier this week. “It was a very important match for us,” said Delikostas following the 3-0 win of the Dutch. “The Dutch are a class above us, but I am happy that my players responded well to the demands of such a game”.
Picture: Cyprus head coach, Costas Delikostas, gives instructions to his players at a time-out during the friendly against the Netherlands