Okkas ready for 'special moment' with Cyprus
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Striker Yiannis Okkas, who will become Cyprus's first 100-cap player against Norway, looks forward to this "special moment" and explains why he thinks they can reach UEFA EURO 2012.
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On Friday, Yiannis Okkas will be honoured by the Cyprus Football Association as the first player to win 100 caps for his country after 13 years in the team. However, while he told UEFA.com it would be a "special moment", the 33-year-old Anorthosis Famagusta FC forward's priority against Norway in Larnaca will be to maintain his country's promising start to Group H after a 4-4 draw in Portugal.
UEFA.com: Friday's game will be your 100th for Cyprus. How does that make you feel?
Yiannis Okkas: It is a very special moment for me personally. It's a great honour to become the first Cypriot international to reach 100 caps, but as far as the game goes it doesn't change anything for me. We all have a job to do against Norway.
UEFA.com: Which moments stand out in your Cyprus career?
Okkas: There have been some special moments throughout my time with Cyprus. The goal I scored against France [in September 2002] was special for me, as was the game against Austria where we were one match away from reaching the [UEFA EURO 2000] play-offs. Also the game against Germany [in November 2006] when I scored and the match away to Italy [last October] in which we came close to sealing a historic victory. Even the recent draw in Portugal is one I will always remember.
UEFA.com: Do you believe this is the best senior national team Cyprus have produced?
Okkas: I do believe that this national team is the best Cyprus have ever had. Whether we can qualify from our group remains to be seen but we certainly have enough quality in the squad to believe we can reach our target.
UEFA.com: Cyprus have made a great start to the campaign. Does this change the island's approach going into the Norway game?
Okkas: Whether we are playing Norway, Denmark or Portugal, the same thing always applies for us. It depends how we play on the day. We feel we have what it takes but like our coach says many times, everything will depend on us. If we are good on the day, the result will follow.
UEFA.com: The coach has often spoken about how difficult it is to lift the players mentally for these fixtures. Do you agree that this is a problem?
Okkas: I totally agree with him. But it's not just that, it's also our mentality as a nation. We tend to get too excited when things are going well and very down when a result doesn't go our way. That is just the way we are. The Norwegians, for example, are not like that. They always have their feet on the ground whether things are going well or not.