Ethnikos Achnas FC can dream of another UEFA Intertoto Cup miracle after a 0-0 draw in the away leg of their first round tie against KS Besa.
Under their new coach, former Belgian international defender Stéphane Demol, Ethnikos earned a 0-0 draw in Tirana on Saturday to ignite hopes that they might repeat their famous 2006 achievement. Then they overcame FK Partizani of Albania, Croatia's NK Osijek and Israeli side Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC to progress to the UEFA Cup. They become the first and only Cypriot football club to ever win an official UEFA European competition, and they did not stop there. Svetoza Sapurić's men then embarked on yet another impressive run in the UEFA Cup knocking out Belgian outfit KSV Roeselare thanks to an emphatic 5-0 win in Nicosia, before finally being pipped to the group stages by French side RC Lens.
As Ethnikos prepare for the home leg of their tie against Besa at the Dhasaki Stadium on Saturday, the 42-year-old Demol remained cautious. "Besa are a good side and we will need to work very hard if we want to move into the next round," he said. His side missed chances in Tirana, but so did Besa, who also hit the post in the first half. Besa coach Iljaz Haxhiraj gave credit to Ethinkos custodian Panayiotis Charalambous for keeping his side at bay in the first leg. "The draw was mostly due to the Ethnikos goalkeeper," he said. "We could have scored a goal which would have set us up nicely for the return leg. We will not give up the fight because we are still in with a shout of going through. The game is still open for both sides."
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