Cypriot champions Anorthosis Famagusta FC will be seeking to build on a first-leg draw at FC Dinamo Minsk.
By John Leonidou and Denis Orlov
Cypriot champions Anorthosis Famagusta FC are confident they can see off FC Dinamo Minsk and reach the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round where Turkish side Trabzonspor await.
The Nicosia outfit earned a 1-1 draw in Belarus last week, and influential player-coach Temur Ketsbaia believes there is more to come from his team. "We weren't at our best in the first game in Minsk," the former AEK Athens FC and Newcastle United FC midfielder said. "That's perfectly normal considering it was our first competitive game [of the season].
"This time around, Anorthosis will be a different team because we're fitter, know our opponents better, and we're at home so our fans will be on our side." They did fine without their vocal support in Minsk last week, where Nikos Frousos gave them the lead on the stroke of half-time. Although Dinamo defender Dzmitri Lentsevich later equalised, the away goal could prove crucial.
Greek striker Frousos went off injured and is still sidelined so Klimenti Tsitaishvili will come into the side. "Dinamo are more ready than us in terms of match fitness," Ketsbaia continued. "We have just one game under our belts but I believe that if we stay focused and work hard we'll qualify."
Dinamo's superior fitness could play a part in the sweltering heat of the Cypriot capital, however, as the Dinamo squad should be near their peak with the Belarussian Premier League already at its halfway stage. They lie a disappointing eighth though, a position that led to the sacking of coach Aleksandr Bashmakov.
Ukrainian Olexandr Riabokon has been installed and the club have won two out of three since his arrival. Saturday's 5-2 win against FC Dnepr-Transmash Mogilev provides a welcome boost ahead of tonight's tie and a continuation of that form could seal their progress.
Riabokon will look to build from the back where goalkeeper Yuri Tsygalko, recently returned from a successful loan spell at Kazakhstan outfit FC Vostok, could be given the opportunity to add to his 574 minutes without conceding. Should that figure become 664, Dinamo may well be celebrating victory.