Soccer UEFA Euro Qualification - Group Stage
Cyprus vs Georgia - Match Preview
⚽ 17 June 2023 - 18:45 GMT +0
The first meeting between Cyprus and Georgia since 2017 will be a particularly special occasion for Georgian-born Cyprus manager Temur Ketsbaia, who enjoyed 52 internationals as a player (1990-2003) and 40 as a manager (2009-14) for his native country. There’ll be no room for sentiment though as Cyprus bid to kick start their campaign, with their only prior Euro qualifying engagement this cycle seeing them go down 3-0 against Scotland.
Ketsbaia already had an enormous task ahead of him to get Cyprus to their first-ever Euros prior to that Scotland defeat, which took their recent record in Euro or World Cup qualification games to seven losses from eight games (D1) since September 2021. But the Cypriots are no strangers to producing shock results under their new boss, defeating Greece and Israel as part of a W2, D1, L3 record as underdogs during Ketsbaia’s term.
Georgian boss Willy Sagnol defeated Cyprus twice as a player for France in the 2000s and will continue his first Euro qualification attempt as a manager after steering them to promotion out of the UEFA Nations League (UNL) C last year. Their first act of this tournament was a 1-1 draw against Group A’s third-favourites Norway, stretching their unbeaten run in competitive matches to nine games (W7, D2).
Markets expect Georgia to finish fourth in their group, just as they did in their last attempt, and poor travelling has been largely responsible for their failure to reach a European Championships or World Cup as an independent nation. In the previous editions of qualifying for either event (2020 and 2022), Georgia defeated only minnows Gibraltar and Kosovo from a total of eight away trips (D1, L5).
📋 Players to watch: Marinos Tzionis was responsible for two of Cyprus’ three goals at home in 2022, opening the scoring within 20 minutes on both occasions. Similarly, Georgian midfielder Khvicha Kvaratskhelia scored in all three of Georgia’s away UNL games last year.
⚡ Hot stat: Cyprus led at half-time in each of their last four wins and have interestingly failed to win the last 25 (D4, L21) games in which they did not score a first-half goal.
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