AGBU Ararat Nicosia FC completed the lineup for the UEFA Futsal Cup elite round with an impressive 4-2 defeat of MNK Orlić Sarajevo.
Orlić, second in main round Group 2 at start of play today, needed only a point to join section winners FC Time Lviv in the next stage, to be contested in November. But Romanian internationals Csoma Alpar and Loband Szöcs put the Cypriot side two up in six minutes and although Haris Harba struck twice to level by the break, Revaz Devdariani made it 3-2 in the 24th minute and, as time ran out, Szöcs scored again to confirm victory.
That still left the door open for Athina '90 Athens to pip AGBU Ararat on goal difference if they beat Time, and it was 1-1 late in the first half. But Oleksandr Kondratyuk then scored the first of a hat-trick and the Ukrainian side won 9-3 to end the group on a perfect nine points, five clear at the top.
AGBU Ararat are the only one of the six preliminary round qualifiers to progress through this phase, emulating the feat of FK Nikars Riga last season. In six entries before 2010/11, the Nicosia side had never even made it through a single round.
Iacovos Papadopoulos, the AGBU Ararat captain, said: "We have deservedly gone through and we will fight to go as far as we can. It is a huge success to get this far but we know very well that in theeound things will be much tougher. We have got past two rounds to get here, something which is unprecedented for a Cypriot club, and we are now amongst Europe's best sides."
Goalkeeper Vassos Kyprianou added: "I believe we have done Cyprus proud. We were underdogs going into the tournament in the Ukraine but we nonetheless achieved a historic qualification. Everyone needs to be congratulated for his achievement."
Time and AGBU Ararat join ten other sides in coming through from the six mini-tournaments this week. Also in the elite round draw, made at 14.00CET on 12 October in Nyon, will be holders SL Benfica and fellow top seeds ElPozo Murcia FS, MFK Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg and AFC Kairat Almaty, all given a bye to the competition's third stage.
In the draw, two of the four groups will be formed from one top seed, one main round group winner and two runners-up, while the two other groups will contain one top seed, two group winners and one runner-up. No team can face a club they played in the main round and four sides will be selected in advance as mini-tournament hosts, thus being kept apart in the draw. The four group winners will progress to the finals in April.
2010/11 UEFA Futsal Cup elite round entrants
Draw 12 October, matches 20-28 November
Seeds (bye to elite round)
SL Benfica (POR, holders)
MFK Viz-Sinara Ekaterinburg (RUS)
ElPozo Murcia FS (ESP)
AFC Kairat Almaty (KAZ)
Main round winners
Group 1: Sporting Clube de Portugal (POR)
Group 2: FC Time Lviv (UKR)
Group 3: Araz Naxçivan (AZE)
Group 4: Iberia Star Tbilisi (GEO)
Group 5: ASD Città Di Montesilvano C/5 (ITA)
Group 6: KMF Ekonomac Kragujevac (SRB)
Main round runners-up
Group 1: Slov-Matic Bratislava (SVK)
Group 2: AGBU Ararat Nicosia FC (CYP)
Group 3: City'us Târgu Mureş (ROU)
Group 4: FK EP Chrudim (CZE)
Group 5: MNK Nacional Zagreb (CRO)
Group 6: Akademia FC Pniewy (POL)
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