Defender Andreas Constantinou feels his Anorthosis Famagusta FC team are "very close" to the standard required to shine in a top European competition.
A full 12 points clear of APOEL FC at the top of the Cypriot league with seven games and the end-of-season play-offs to go, Temuri Ketsbaia's side have been a class apart from all of their island rivals. The club had a great run in Europe too, battling through to the first round of the UEFA Cup where they were knocked out by Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur FC.
For Constantinou, a summer signing from AEK Larnaca FC, Anorthosis are not far from the level required to earn a group stage place in one of the big competitions. "I feel we are very close to achieving that goal," he told uefa.com. "Everyone in Cyprus would love to see a local side in a major tournament. All it would take is a good Cypriot side and a favourable draw.
"Football in Cyprus has improved tremendously, especially in the last few years," he added. "Clubs are spending a lot more than they used to and that has lured good quality players to the island. There are some players in Cyprus right now and a few years ago it would have been unthinkable that they would be playing here."
Anorthosis's investments over the course of the season have certainly paid dividends. Polish striker Lukasz Sosin has shone since arriving from Apollon Limassol FC, Paulo Costa has impressed since his move from Aris Limassol FC, Bulgarian midfielder Metodi Deyanov has done well after joining from OFI Crete FC and Georgian forward Klimenti Tsitaishvili also looks handy.
However, for the 27-year-old Constantinou, there is more to Anorthosis than quality players. "One of the things that separates us from the other teams this season is the ethos within the squad," he explained. "We all work hard to ensure that we try and get the results we want and that is also down to the good job everyone does in training."
The former Anorthosis, AEK Athens FC and Newcastle United FC attacker Ketsbaia has certainly played his part in creating that spirit, having won one league title and a Cyprus Cup since taking over as coach in 2004. "As a player he was one of the best to have played in Cyprus and he is just as good as a coach," said Constantinou. "
His whole approach to coaching is excellent, as is his thinking."
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