They qualified this time around courtesy of their seventh success in the national cup which they raised by defeating Omonia Nicosia 3-2 in last term’s final.
This first leg against Spurs is their 67th European game in total over a 44-year spread of the Champions League Cup, the UEFA Cup and the now-defunct Cup-winners’ Cup.
But their record in that time tells a more impressive story than observers might think, considering the fact that Cyprus are one of European football’s smaller nations.
Anorthosis have won 17 of their 66 games thus far and drawn 11, scoring 68 goals and conceding 145.
The club’s proudest moment was in July, 2005 when they beat Turkish club Trabzonspor 3-1 in the first leg of a Champions League second round qualifier to progress 3-2 on aggregate before losing 4-1 on aggregate – one round short of the group stage – to Rangers. Anorthosis thus dropped into the UEFA Cup first round in which they lost 6-2 on aggregate to Italy’s Palermo.
This season’s UEFA Cup campaign began two months ago when Anorthosis opened up with an impressive 2-0 aggregate victory over Macedonia’s Vardar Skopje in the first qualifying round. Anorthosis won both away and home by 1-0. Bulgarian forward Metodi Deyanov scored the winner two minutes from the end of the first leg; Anton Zlogar struck the only goal of the second leg, eight minutes into the second half in the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium in Larnaca.
The second qualifying round brought another trip into eastern Europe to face CFR Cluj who had finished a creditable third in the Romanian league last season and were – as had been Vardar – favourites to win through into the first round proper.
However Cluj, like Vardar before them, took Anorthosis too lightly and paid the penalty. Once more the Cypriots’ away-leg resistance provided the foundation for success as they won 3-1 in Romania. At one stage they even led 3-0 in front of the shocked Romanian fans courtesy of a cosmopolitan trio of goals from the outstanding Zlogar, William Boaventura and Lukasz Sosin.
The second leg finished goalless so when English referee Mike Dean blew the final whistle a delighted Anorthosis had qualified to face Spurs on the back of four games which comprised three victories, one draw and no defeats: five goals scored and only one conceded (and that, against Cluj, from a penalty).
Coach Temur Ketsbaia, the former Newcastle forward, says: “Our strength is that we make the most of what we have. We have a level of ability which may surprise some people and we have a very committed group of players. Also we do not get carried away. We do not look too far ahead. We concentrate on each challenge as it comes to us.”
Anorthosis are one of the oldest clubs in Cyprus, having been founded in 1911 and were founder members of the national league championship in 1934. They have won the league on 12 occasions (the last time in 2005), the cup 10 times and the national supercup seven times.
They are also a refugee club since their home town of Famagusta has been in the Turkish-controlled northern enclave of the island since the most recent troubles in 1974. The club moved to Larnaca and sought a new home – first in Dasaki Achnas, then the old and new GSZ stadia in Larnaca as well as the Tsirion in Limassol. Finally, in 1986, Anorthosis built their own new home in Larnaca.
The initial capacity of the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium was 6,000, was increased to 13,000 but now stands – after major redevelopment in 1997 – at an all-seater 9,319. It has hosted national team matches as well as games in the European Under-16 finals in 1992.
Appropriately the club’s emblem is the phoenix, the legendary bird which rises from the ashes of history. Outstanding players down the years have included Ketsbaia – now coach, of course – Romania’s Angel Iordanescu, Bulgaria’s Iljan Kiriakov, much-travelled Brazilian striker Mario Jardel and Cypriot goalkeeper Phanos Stylianou – who set a record of 1,064 minutes unbeaten in 1978-79.
- Former Southampton striker Marian Pahars plays up front.
- The likes of Georgi Kinkladze (formerly of Man City) and Mario Jardel have also represented Famagusta, while Englishman David Swindlehurst had a short spell with the Club in 1987, having previously amassed over 400 games and scoring more than 100 goals playing for Crystal Palace, Sunderland, Derby County and West Ham.
- Managed by former Georgian striker Temur Ketsbaia, who made his name in England with Newcasle United, as well as having spells with Wolves and Dundee.
- Ketsbaia originally joined Famagusta in 1992 spending two seasons there before joining AEK Athens. He returned as a player in 2002 before being made player-manager in January 2004. He retired as a player in the summer to concentrate on the management side.
- Ketsbaia’s first full season in charge in 2004/05 saw Famagusta win the league for the first time in five years.
- Won their tenth Cypriot Cup to earn a run in the UEFA Cup this time round.
- Finished third in their league last year.
- League champions 12 times.
- Have won their opening two league games, including defeating reigning champions APOEL 1-0 at the weekend.
- Missed out on Europe last season, but in 2005/06 campaign they were eliminated by Rangers in Champions League third qualifying round having beaten Trabzonspor a round earlier- arguably the greatest ever Cypriot result in Europe. Dropped down to the UEFA Cup as a result and lost to Palermo in the first round.
- They are no strangers to causing upsets in European football. In the past they have defeated teams like Athletic Bilbao and Lierse and also took Rangers down to the wire in 1994.
- Have played in Champions League qualifying rounds five times in past decade, but have never made the group phase. Lost on four occasions in the final qualifying round during this period.
- Stadium capacity- 9,650.
- The squad features a great mixture of nationalities- Brazil, Bulgaria, France, Portugal, Albania, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Serbia, Greece, Slovenia and Rwanda.
Anorthosis Famagusta have long been at the forefront of the Cypriot club game and regular contestants in European club competitions.