Ex-Motherwell defender Angelis Charalambous eyes win over Scots

Ermis Aradippou defender Angelis Charalambous
Charalambous spent last season at Fir Park without playing for the first team

Former Motherwell defender Angelis Charalambous hopes to help Cyprus revive their international fortunes, starting against Scotland on Friday.

Coach Nikos Nioplias plans to experiment with youth in the friendly.

Uncapped midfielder Charalambous, 22, said: "Scottish football is faster and stronger than football here, but there is some good quality here.

"Apoel are doing well in Europe and AEK Larnaca got a point against Schalke in the Europa League last week."

Cyprus coach Nikos Nioplias
Nioplias is hoping to end a run of four straight defeats for Cyprus

Charalambous spent last season at Fir Park after leaving Anorthosis Famagusta before heading back to his homeland with First Division rivals Ermis Aradippou.

However, like former Rangers midfielder Georgios Efrem, Charalambous, who now plays for leaders Omonia Nicosia, failed to make a first-team appearance in Scotland's top flight - although Efrem did score twice in eight appearances on loan with Dundee.

Now Charalambous could make his full international alongside his fellow 22-year-old, who already has seven caps.

"The coach has picked some young players and left out some experienced players who might retire from international football," explained the defender.

The squad changes follow a disappointing Euro 2012 campaign, at the end of which Cyprus fell 34 places to 120 in the latest world rankings - 69 spots below Scotland.

Cypriot football had shown signs of blossoming during their 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign, when they finished fourth in their group ahead of Montenegro and Georgia.

They twice came within moments of taking a point against 2006 World Cup winners Italy before injury-time goals cost them.

Indeed, they led 2-0 with 12 minutes left in Parma before Alberto Gilardino rescued the home side's blushes with a hat-trick.

The Cypriots also suffered one-goal defeats by the Republic of Ireland in the same campaign and started their Euro 2012 qualifying with a 4-4 draw in Portugal.

Georgios Efrem
Efrem played on loan with Dundee while with Rangers

However, the progress halted and a goalless draw at home to Iceland proved to be their only other point as they finished bottom of their group.

Nioplias took over in June following the end of the seven-year reign of Angelos Anastasiadis but did not have an immediate impact on results.

His team lost their final four qualifiers, including a 4-1 home reverse against Denmark last month, when they were four goals down inside 22 minutes.

However, Apoel Nicosia sit top of their Champions League group ahead of Zenit St Petersburg, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk and their new national coach is hoping to build on the success of their club sides.

Five of the listed forwards in the Cyprus squad are aged under 23 as Nioplias, who won a league and cup double as Panithinaikos boss in 2010, looks to a new generation.

"This is an interesting match because it is the start of our preparations for the World Cup qualifying campaign," said the coach.

"I am going to give some young players a chance so that we can rebuild the team."

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