UEFA.com works better on other browsers
For the best possible experience, we recommend using Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

Opportunity knocks for Anorthosis keeper

With Anorthosis Famagusta FC's first-choice goalkeeper Arian Beqaj ruled out for the Werder Bremen game, Hungarian Zóltan Nagy will step in for a match which could seal the Cypriot club's passage to the last 16.

Anorthosis know they could qualify for the first knockout round with a win
Anorthosis know they could qualify for the first knockout round with a win ©Getty Images

Anorthosis Famagusta FC goalkeeper Arian Beqaj is calling on his team not to throw away a "unique opportunity" when the Cypriot titleholders entertain Group B rivals Werder Bremen on Wednesday.

Total commitment
Albanian international Beqaj believes that a repeat of Anorthosis' stout performances in Europe so far will ensure their involvement in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round. "This is a unique opportunity and we won't let it slip away," said the 33-year-old custodian, who has been ruled of the tie through a combination of finger and ankle injuries. "We will give it our all. We need to perform like we have in our previous home games in Europe and that should be enough to see us through."

High stakes
Temuri Ketsbaia's Anorthosis are second in their section on five points, three behind FC Internazionale Milano, one ahead of Panathinaikos FC and two clear of their Matchday 5 opponents. A victory over Bremen, combined with a defeat for Panathinaikos in Milan, would guarantee a last-16 place with one game to spare. Despite the high stakes, Beqaj insists that nerves will not undermine his team-mates' efforts. "At first, we were just talking about enjoying the experience of playing in the Champions League," he said, "but in football, nobody goes into a game thinking about losing. It's a match which may take us into the next round so of course there is anxiety, but I believe we've got it under control."

Dangerous opponents
Anorthosis began their group campaign by holding the German side to a 0-0 draw at the Weserstadion, although Beqaj warns that it is Bremen's very inconsistency that makes them so dangerous. "Werder are an unpredictable outfit who can change radically in the space of three to four days," he said. "They're a bit off the pace in the Bundesliga and will be looking to the Champions League to save their season."

Worthy replacement
Also missing for Ketsbaia's team will be midfield duo Cédric Bardon and Paulo Costa, through injury and illness respectively. Beqaj, meanwhile, reckons Anorthosis have "a very good and experienced keeper" in his understudy Zóltan Nagy, with Gavriel Konstantinou being promoted to provide back-up for the Hungarian. The 34-year-old Nagy, who has yet to appear in this competition, added: "We're all aware of just how difficult this game is. All the players will need to show great passion if we want to win. We're ready for this game. We'll be playing at home and we've shown before that we can beat anybody here."

Record crowd
A capacity crowd is expected at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, with 18,000 tickets already sold by last week – a national record. "A big part of Anorthosis' success is down to the fans," Beqaj concluded. "They have given us their support both in Cyprus and on our travels."