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All you need to know about Cyprus before Clarke’s Scotland debut

first_imgScotland face Cyprus on Saturday night as Steve Clarke takes charge of the national team for the first time.Here, Press Association Sport looks at the opposition for the crucial Euro 2020 qualifier at Hampden.ManagerCyprus head coach Ran Ben Shimon has managed some of the biggest names in Israeli football following stints with Maccabi Tel Aviv, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Beitar Jerusalem and FC Ashdod but his best success came with minnows Ironi Kiryat Shmona, who he guided to their first national league title in 2012. Ben Shimon is little known outside of his homeland and his only other stint working outside of Israel before taking the Cyprus job was a 12-month spell at Greek outfit AEK Larnaca that ended in 2013. So far the 48-year-old has guided his current side to just three wins from his 16 games in charge.PlayersCypriot club sides Apoel, AEL Limassol, AEK Larnaca and Apollon Limassol have all recorded some impressive results in European action in recent years but those successes have been built on foreign foundations with homegrown talent thin on the ground. And that has left Ben Shimon with thin pickings to build a national team. Southend defender Jason Demetriou is the squad’s most experienced international with 50 caps, while highly-rated playmaker Grigoris Kastanos made his first-team breakthrough with Italian giants Juventus two months ago. Midfielder Anthony Georgiou is a product of the Tottenham academy currently on loan at Levante B in Spain, while Georgios Efrem is familiar face to Rangers supporters having spent time at Ibrox as a teenager. The 29-year-old – currently on the books of Apoel, was released without playing a game for Walter Smith’s team but did make 10 appearances on loan at Dundee.FormCyprus are ranked 89th in the world and have been on the slide thanks to a run of just two wins from their last 15 games. They were relegated from their Nations League section as they mustered just one win over Slovenia from their Group C3 campaign but did post draws against the Slovenians away as well as at home to Bulgaria. They opened their Euro 2020 qualifiers by thumping minnows San Marino 5-0 and Ben Shimon took heart from the 2-0 defeat to world number one Belgium last time out.last_img read more