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Hélio Pinto backs APOEL's comeback bid

Published: Monday 22 August 2011, 16.45CET
APOEL FC's Portuguese midfielder Hélio Pinto described the Cypriot side's task as "difficult but not impossible" as they bid to overturn a 1-0 play-off deficit at home against Wisła Kraków.
by John Leonidou & Piotr Kozmiński

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Published: Monday 22 August 2011, 16.45CET

Hélio Pinto backs APOEL's comeback bid

APOEL FC's Portuguese midfielder Hélio Pinto described the Cypriot side's task as "difficult but not impossible" as they bid to overturn a 1-0 play-off deficit at home against Wisła Kraków.

APOEL FC trail Wisła Kraków 1-0 going into the second leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off, with Portuguese midfielder Hélio Pinto describing the Cypriot side's task as "difficult but not impossible".

We don't what will happen in the end but we do know it will be difficult but not impossible
Hélio Pinto

Patryk Małecki's 71st-minute strike handed the advantage to the Polish side, but APOEL coach Ivan Jovanovič welcomes back defender Savvas Poursaitides from suspension and also has another Cypriot international, winger Athos Solomou, back for the decider. Argentinian forward Esteban Solari and Paraguayan midfielder Aldo Adorno will miss out through injury, but Hélio Pinto was feeling positive.

"The first game in Poland was difficult for us," said the former SL Benfica trainee. "We lost that game 1-0 and we know they have the advantage, but we will try our best to turn it around. We know from experience just how tough these games are. We don't what will happen in the end but we do know it will be difficult but not impossible. If we want to win it, we will need to be focused."

Kamil Kosowski, a Wisła player from 1999-2008 who then spent two seasons with APOEL, is backing the Cypriot club to make it to the group stage. "Wisła won the first game but to be honest I thought APOEL played better," said the midfielder, now with GKS Bełchatów. "From that, I would say APOEL are favourites to go through. My prediction is that APOEL will win 2-0 and my Wisła will play in the Europa League this season."

Former Poland coach Jerzy Engel has been in charge of both clubs, but felt that the advantage lay with the visitors. "I think it is 60/40 for Wisła," he told UEFA.com. "Wisła don't have to score, it is enough for them to defend well. I don't think the weather will matter – the match will be played in the evening when the weather on Cyprus is fantastic, not too hot. It will be settled on the pitch, not in the air."

Wisła drew 0-0 at Korona Kielce on Saturday, with coach Robert Maaskant resting some of his biggest stars, and the atmosphere in the team remains positive despite Maor Melikson being doubtful because of an injury. Dutch right-back Michael Lamey may be fit to return after missing the first leg while Małecki, the match winner last week, has had the boost of a surprise call-up to the national team after a long absence.

"I have waited a long time for this call to the national team, but I am staying calm," said the 23-year-old. "Tomorrow, I am playing in the most important match of my career and I am totally focused on that, but it is nice to hear that I am back."

Last updated: 27/11/12 9.27CET

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