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Cyprus defender Elias Charalambous is quietly confident his side can pull off a surprise qualification for UEFA EURO 2012 after their comeback earned a thrilling 4-4 draw in Portugal.
Angelos Anastasiadis's side arrived at the Estádio D. Afonso Henriques in Guimaraes determined to overturn a dismal record against Portugal, Cyprus having lost all eight of the countries' previous encounters. They led twice early on through Efstathios Aloneftis and Michalis Konstantinou but looked to be heading home empty-handed when Manuel Fernandes's rocket gave the home side a 4-3 lead on the hour.
But Andreas Avraam's 89th-minute header snatched a Group H point for which Charalambous and company were ultimately grateful. "We're not disappointed," he told UEFA.com. "A draw in Portugal is a very good result."
However, the left-back felt Cyprus could have left northern Portugal with more. "We believe in our team," Charalambous said. "
We believe in our coach, we have a good squad and I think that if we had concentrated a bit more in the game we might have got a win as well. If we didn't have any hope for this game, we wouldn't be at the stadium today."
The 29-year-old, a three-time Cypriot title winner with AC Omonia, admitted the squad have one eye on qualification for the tournament in Poland and Ukraine, but tried to calm expectation. "We try to take each game separately," Charalambous said. "We will do our best and we will see at the end of this group which position we manage."
Charalambous believes coach Anastasiadis's attack-minded attitude would aid Cyprus in their chase for a first major final tournament. "We play to win all games," he underlined. "That's the strategy of our coach, and that's what makes us better year by year."
Better away results could be the key for a Cypus side which are traditionally strong at home, with Norway visiting on 8 October. "Of course that's one of our targets this year," said Charalambous. "Because we were taking results at home before but away, we had problems. So it was a good start today against Portugal."
The defender, who took part in an absorbing duel with Ricardo Quaresma, ended by praising the team medical staff for returning him to peak fitness after a recent leg injury. "I want to thank the doctor of the team," he said. "I was not sure I would make the game. He was the one who told me to come because he would make me good to play, so I want to say a big thank you to him."
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