Nicos Nioplias has stepped down from his position as Cyprus team boss.
The announcement was made by the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) yesterday after the 48-year-old former Panathinaikos and Greece under-21 boss tendered his resignation to the CFA board following his side’s 2-0 defeat to Slovenia in Tuesday’s Group 5 2014 World Cup qualifier in Nicosia.
British Cypriot coach Stephen Constantine is rumoured to be the front-runner to replace Nioplias with the former Nea Salamina and Ethnikos boss reportedly keen to take the job.
Constantine had just missed out on the Cyprus job back in 2011 when Nioplias was eventually appointed. The of name former Omonia and Alki coach Neophytos Larkou has also been mentioned.
An announcement by the association read: “Nicos Nioplias is stepping down from his position as first team coach of the men’s national team along with his associates Michalis Iordanis and Nicos Tsimbos. Mr. Nioplias had informed the CFA of his decision to leave when his contract expires in November but he also said that he was willing to leave with immediate effect if the CFA wishes.
“Following friendly discussions, the CFA informed Mr. Nioplias that it was in the best interest that he resigned his post immediately.”
Nioplias had replaced his compatriot Angelos Anastasiades in 2011 but failed to reverse the island’s poor run of results on the international stage. Cyprus are currently bottom of their qualifying group with four points. Nioplias’ only wins for Cyprus in 18 games have been a 3-2 victory over Moldova in a friendly and a 1-0 win over next month’s Group E opponents Iceland. Two games ended in draws while he also saw his side lose a total of 14 times.
Following his side’s defeat on Tuesday, a downbeat Nioplias told reporters that “the future of the national team was not looking favourable” due to Cypriot players not getting enough playing time at the clubs.
He also noted that “anyone else stepping into my shoes would be faced with the exact same problem”.
But critics of Nioplias claimed that the Greek coach had failed to motivate his side on the international stage whilst others had questioned his tactics and his player selections.
Meanwhile, the CFA announced that the Technical Director of the National Team’s Department, Michalis Hadjipieris and Cyprus assistant coach Charalambos Pittas will take temporary charge of the national team in their final two qualifiers against Iceland and Albania next month.
The island’s poor performances also saw ticket sales drop dramatically. In the last game against Slovenia, barely 200 Cypriot fans turned up at the 23,000-seater GSP Stadium in Nicosia while around 150 Slovenian fans travelled to Nicosia to support their team.