By Christos Meliopoulos – Nicosia
Quietly but steadily Cypriot football has been climbing up the UEFA country coefficients, comfortably enjoying a respectable 18th position out of the 53 countries that belong to the European federation (54 with the addition of Gibraltar).
The ranking points comprise the results of the last five years. The impressive haul of 4,250 points in the 2009/10 season and the record high of 9,125 points in 2011/12 have raised the current total to 21,750 points.
Cyprus trails Israel (17th position with 23,875 points) and keeps an eye on the threat of Denmark which follows at the 19th position (with 19,500).
This 18th position is by no means an easy feat, especially if one looks at the countries lagging behind, countries that represent traditional European football powerhouses such as Denmark Croatia, Poland, Scotland, Sweden, Serbia, Norway and Ireland.
As Apollon Limassol reminded everyone by recording the first away win for a Cypriot team in a group phase of a European competition against Legia Warsaw, clubs from the island have come a long way since the days or continental oblivion.
Anorthosis Famagusta, APOEL Nicosia, AEK Larnaca and AEL Limassol have in the recent past, as Apollon does this season, astounded European pundits. Tactically astute and passionate, Cypriot sides are a tough nut to break for opponents.
The only flaw in this progressive route is the remarkably low number of Cypriot players in the teams. Cyprus is a small country and no one expects it to produce the quality and quantity of talent of other European nations. But as the disappointing performances of the national team have proved, the success of club football should be better exploited by the island’s authorities in order to create the environment for talents to shine.