Cyprus aiming to break losing streak
While maintaining a positive head-to-head record against their opponents this weekend, Cyprus are in dire need to break a four-game losing run in the EHF EURO Qualifiers, when they face Great Britain, Azerbaijan and Malta in Baku.
- Cyprus are searching for their first win in the EHF EURO Qualifiers since January 2019
- they have a positive head-to-head record against Azerbaijan, Malta and Great Britain, winning twice against each team in the past
- left back Giorgos Papakyprianou, an experienced back court player, will return to the squad bringing plenty of international experience with him
- one of Cyprus’ most experienced players: goalkeeper Christophoros Nungovitch, who played for club teams in Greece, France, Slovakia and Switzerland, will not be part of the team
Most important question: Which streak is going to break this weekend?
On one hand, Cyprus have a positive head-to-head balance against Azerbaijan, Malta and Great Britain, winning twice against each team in the past. On the other hand, they are on a four-game losing streak in the EHF EURO Qualifiers, which dates back to January 2019. So one of those streaks is going to break this weekend in Baku, Azerbaijan. The question is surely which one?
"We have to play Great Britain, a team who has developed a lot in recent years. We believe they are the team that can give us a very hard time. With Malta, in theory, we will win and with Azerbaijan we are the favourites, but we must prove it on the playing court as well,” said Julios Argyrou, Cyprus’ captain.
Cyprus have beaten Azerbaijan by an average of six goals per game, have won against Great Britain by an average of 12.5 goals per game and have totally outplayed Malta, with 51:10 and 38:20 wins in 1999 and 2019 respectively. If statistics played a part, Cyprus would be the favourites, but players enter the court, not numbers. Nevertheless, experience is on their side.
Under the spotlight: Julios Argyrou
Cyprus’ captain, Argyrou is also one of the most experienced players in the squad, who leads by example. Having just turned 38 years old, he has been featuring over two decades in European competitions, being key for AEK Athens HC and Sabbianco Anorthosis Famagusta in the past years.
He scored 15 goals in the 2020/21 season of the EHF European Cup Men, when Famagusta managed their best-ever performance, featuring in the semi-finals, where they lost against the eventual winners, Ystads IF HF.
A centre back who orchestrates the team’s play, Argyrou is one of the most reliable and experienced Cyprus players and will likely be key in his team’s performance, as they try to end a four-game losing streak in the EHF EURO Qualifiers.
How they rate themselves:
As a team that really needs a breakthrough. Despite missing some players in the squad travelling to Azerbaijan, Cyprus have the vastest experience from the quartet, despite bringing an interesting mix of young and experienced players to the table. "The important thing is that we have players who are returning and give a new dynamic in the team,” said Argyrou.
What the numbers say
10 – Cyprus have 10 wins in the EHF EURO Qualifiers, six more than their opponents combined, as both Azerbaijan and Great Britain have two wins, while Malta failed to register a single win so far.
Did you know?
Cyprus’ last wins in the EHF EURO Qualifiers came in January 2019, when they beat Azerbaijan, Malta and Georgia, as they are now four years without a win at this stage of the competition.
All matches will be shown on EHFTV and CBC Sport in Azerbaijan