Cyprus underdogs APOEL 'proud' to play mighty Real

Updated: 17 March 2012 12:40 IST

Cypriot minnows APOEL put on a brave face following the Champion League quarter final draw on Friday, saying they were "proud" to come up against Spanish giants Real Madrid.

Cyprus underdogs APOEL 'proud' to play mighty Real

Nicosia, Cyprus:

Cypriot minnows APOEL put on a brave face following the Champion League quarter final draw on Friday, saying they were "proud" to come up against Spanish giants Real Madrid.

"I am proud of APOEL and of Cyprus. We are proud to play a team like Real Madrid," the club's president Fivos Erotocritou told Sport FM radio from Switzerland.

"This is something incredible for us and for Cyprus. Before the draw we were congratulated for what we have achieved so far. The emotions we are going through are unique."

Before the draw, APOEL had expressed the hope that their team would avoid hot favourites Barcelona and Real who are also tipped as contenders to lift the trophy in Munich.

"This is a draw we didn't want. Real is a football powerhouse and one of the best teams on the planet, along with Barcelona," former APOEL player and club official Takis Antoniou told state radio.

"We will do all we can to get a positive result in Nicosia, we can't talk about our opponents having weaknesses but we also have ability," he added.

Now the Nicosia team have a Herculean task in trying to upset the competition's most decorated side if the fairytale is to continue.

"Real Madrid is a world famous team and we will have to wait and see what happens," APOEL vice president Andis Polydorou told Sigma private TV station soon after the draw.

"The ball is round and we will give it our best shot on the field as we have done before in this competition," he added.

APOEL became the first Cypriot side to reach the Champions League quarter-finals when they beat Lyon 4-3 on penalties after their last 16 tie was level 1-1 on aggregate following extra time.

APOEL's fanatical "orange" fans now look forward to the biggest game in the club's history after a series of unlikely giant killing acts against more illustrious opponents such as Lyon, Porto and Zenit St Petersburg in the group stage.

In terms of budget and status, APOEL are the smallest club left in the competition and the only team never to have reached the last eight before.

And Real coach Jose Mourinho is no stranger to Cyprus, he took his Inter Milan team to Nicosia where they drew 3-3 with Anorthosis Famagusta in Nicosia in a 2008 group game.

Anorthosis were the first Cypriot club to reach the Champions League group stage.

Cristiano Ronaldo also scored two goals for Portugal at the same 23,000 capacity GSP stadium last September when his side beat Cyprus 4-0 in a Euro2012 qualifier.

Cypriot fans tried to goad the Real star by chanting Barca rival Lionel Messi's name every time he touched the ball.

APOEL are the most decorated team in Cypriot football. A founder member of the Cyprus Football Association, they were formed in a sweet shop 85 years ago.

Topics : Football Real Madrid Apoel Nicosia
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