NICOSIA – Cyprus will kickoff its first game in 2013 with a friendly against Serbia in Nicosia on Wednesday.
The game is a warm-up for Nicos Nioplias’ side who currently sit bottom of their 2014 World Cup qualifying group with three points and who next take on Switzerland on March 23.
Nioplias will have 24 players at his disposal although the participation of APOEL’s Stathis Aloneftis and Anorthosis Famagusta’s Vincent Laban – who are both carrying injuries - will be decided later on Wednesday.
One new face in the Cyprus lineup includes that of AEK defender Lefteris Mertakkas while youngsters Pieros Sotiriou, Nestor Mytides, Marios Antoniades and Valentinos Sielis have also got a calling.
Apollon Limassol’s George Merkis has already been ruled out of the friendly which will take place at GSP Stadium in Nicosia and which kicks off at 6pm. There will be free entrance for spectators.
Cyprus has met Serbia twice before although both games were friendly encounters. The first time was back in 2009 at the GSP with the Serbian visitors running out 2-0 winners while last year’s game – at the GSZ Stadium in Larnaca – ended in a goalless draw.
Cyprus has played the former Yugoslavia four times in the past with all those games ending in defeats. During the qualifying campaign for EURO 80, Cyprus was defeated 3-0 at home and 5-0 away in 1979 while in the qualifers for Italia 90, Cyprus suffered a 4-0 loss to Yugoslavia in Belgrade before a more respectable 2-1 defeat in the return encounter in Limassol.
Elsewhere, Cyprus’ under-19 side warmed up for the 2013 European Championship Elite Round campaign in the summer with a creditable 1-1 draw against Germany in Paralimni.
The Germans had taken a second minute lead through Marcel Hilbner but Cyprus equalised on 65 minutes through Christos Tziamas’ powerful header.
Cyprus’ under-21 side were held to a 0-0 draw by hosts Jordan on the same night in Amman.