As he prepares to face his former employers, Nuno Morais will not allow sentiment to cloud his target of "standing up to Chelsea" when APOEL FC try to build on a promising start to Group D.
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Nuno Morais will not allow sentiment to cloud his target of "standing up to Chelsea" as APOEL FC look to build on a promising start to UEFA Champions League Group D.
The 25-year-old midfielder knows only too well the problems the 2008 runners-up will pose, having been a Stamford Bridge player for three seasons before signing for APOEL in 2007. Morais has not looked back since, claiming a Division A title last term to add to one Cypriot Cup and two Super Cups, and then taking a key role as APOEL became the second Cypriot team to reach the group stage. Even so, Chelsea hold a particular place in his heart. "It will be a special moment for me to play against Chelsea but what really matters is that we do well against them," he said.
Ivan Jovanović's side should be in fine fettle at Nicosia's GSP Stadium. APOEL showed their durability with an unexpected goalless draw at Club Atlético de Madrid on Matchday 1, despite having dropped off the pace in their domestic league with just five points collected from their first four matches. Morais is confident the Cypriot champions will put that run behind them when they go into their first competitive meeting with English opposition. "The Champions League is a big window for us all so we want to perform at this level," he said. "Chelsea will be a great challenge. We know they are a great team but we're hopeful we can stand up to them."
Morais made only nine appearances for Chelsea in all competitions, spending the 2005/06 campaign on loan in his native Portugal with CS Marítimo, yet his affection for the London club is intact. "I enjoyed some very special moments at Chelsea, we won league titles and cups, so they are memories I will never forget," he said. "They are still a very strong side despite not winning the league since José Mourinho left. Chelsea used to be my team, now my team is APOEL. In that respect it will be just another game, and I will do my utmost to help my team achieve their target."