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Schaaf giving Anorthosis their due

Thomas Schaaf was keen to point out that Werder Bremen will be paying UEFA Champions League debutants Anorthosis Famagusta FC all the respect they deserve when the two teams meet in the Weserstadion.

Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf
Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf ©Getty Images

Werder Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf has been keen to point out that his team will be paying UEFA Champions League debutants Anorthosis Famagusta FC all the respect they deserve when the clubs meet in the Weserstadion.

Schaaf impressed
The Bremen boss was an admiring onlooker as the Cypriot side booked their group stage place in style, seeing off Olympiacos CFP in the third qualifying round after a 3-0 first-leg win. "Olympiacos made life really hard for us last season," said Schaaf, whose team succumbed 3-0 and 3-1 to the Greek titleholders in the group stage. "By beating them 3-0, Anorthosis showed they must be taken seriously – just like any other club that manage to qualify for the Champions League."

Ketsbaia honoured
Temuri Ketsbaia's side have certainly earned their accession to the heights of European football, overcoming SK Rapid Wien and FC Pyunik as well as Olympiacos in a campaign that began back on 15 July. Now they will write a new page in the club's history. "It is a huge occasion for us," said Ketsbaia. "It is an honour to be part of the UEFA Champions League. It was a historic achievement to qualify for the competition and we are delighted to be part of it."

Weserstadion experience
Yet the group stage is not uncharted territory for Ketsbaia, who played in it for Newcastle United FC in the late 1990s, and nor is Bremen's Weserstadion. "I was here with FC Dinamo Tbilisi 20 years ago – it's a great stadium," said the 40-year-old Georgian, whose team warmed up for the trip to Germany by defeating Doxa Katokopia FC 1-0 on Saturday. "Unfortunately, we lost that match 2-1 but hopefully we can get a better result this time." Their task will be made harder by the absence of injured trio Predrag Ocokoljić, Lambros Lambrou and Ioannis Skopelitis, while Siniša Dobrašinović will sit out the game through suspension.

'Good results'
Ketsbaia is not looking for excuses, however. "Every game in the Champions League is tough," he continued. "We have played some good teams in the competition so far and have already displayed the potential to get good results." Schaaf and Bremen will hope Anorthosis fail to pick up another one in northern Germany, and approach the fixture full of confidence having swept aside FC Energie Cottbus 3-0 at the weekend – even if Diego did not break the deadlock until 15 minutes from time against cautious visitors.

'Right track' 
Schaaf expects more of the same against Anorthosis, although after losses in each of their last five group-stage openers, the coach has only one thing in mind. "We want to get a good result for ourselves and for our fans," said the 47-year-old, "and the Cottbus match showed we are on the right track." Just in time for Schaaf then, who admits that while his side have become regulars at this level, the competition has lost none of its allure. "The Champions League gives you the chance to play against the best teams in Europe and it would be dreadful if that became normality," he explained. "It will always be something special."