ATHENS - Anorthosis Famagusta's victory over Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus in the third qualifying round made them the first Cypriot team to reach the group stage of the Champions League. Now another Greek team, Panathinaikos, stand between the unlikely qualifiers and a place in the last 16 when they lock horns at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Tuesday. Anorthosis will know they have nothing to fear, having already beaten Panathinaikos 3-1 in Cyprus, although the pressure is now on them. A draw will suit Panathinaikos whereas Anorthosis must win if they are to progress. The Cypriot side, who took a relatively relaxed attitude towards the competition after qualifying, have enjoyed themselves, especially at home where draws against Werder Bremen and Inter Milan mean they remain unbeaten. If it had not been for a late slip against the Germans, who came back from 2-0 down, Anorthosis might be going into the final game as the team only needing a draw. The players, however, have had to prepare for the match in Athens with the unwanted media coverage surrounding their former president Andreas Panteli, who is under investigation for alleged embezzlement. SAVIO DOUBTFUL Coach Temur Ketsbaia has also been hit with injuries and a dip in form, a 1-0 defeat by APOEL on Friday leaving them third in the domestic table and probably accounting for influential midfielder Savio, who hobbled off with an injured kneecap. Ketsbaia is also concerned about the state of his goalkeepers with his top two struggling for fitness. Reports from Cyprus suggest number one Arian Beqaj is available again after a course of physiotherapy in Belgium but his match fitness remains open to doubt. Panathinaikos did a wonderful job in rousing themselves after the defeat in Cyprus, drawing at home with Werder before beating the Germans away and then scoring a famous 1-0 win over Inter at the San Siro. Their domestic form remains suspect although they climbed to third with a 2-1 win over Xanthi on Saturday. Gilberto Silva, a finalist with Arsenal in 2006, is confident it will be the Greeks who are celebrating on Tuesday night. "The Anorthosis match will be like a final because we will both be fighting to qualify for the next stage, but I'm sure we'll finish the job at home," the Brazilian said. "It's up to us now. We just need to keep our heads." Probable teams: Panathinaikos: 1-Mario Galinovic; 24-Loukas Vintra, 3-Jose Sarriegi, 8-Ioannis Goumas; 31-Nikos Spyropoulos; 15-Gilberto Silva, 23-Simao, 29-Mikael Nilsson; 10-Giorgos Karagounis, 19-Gabriel; 26-Vangelis Mantzios Anorthosis: 30-Zoltan Nagy; 24-Andreas Constantinou, 4-Nicos Katsavakis, 33-Traianos Dellas, 12-Jeffrey Leiwakabessy; 22-Predrag Ocokoljic, 8-Ioannis Skopelitis, 6-Sinisa Dobrasinovic, 21-Georgios Panagi, 20-Vincent Laban; 19-Hawar Taher Referee: Bertrand Layec (France)
8 December 2008
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