They had to face Real Madrid one of the most consistent and richest winning teams of all time, with celebrity coach Jose Mourinho, and a line up that includes three of the top eleven players in the Castrol rankings, a team that had reached the knockout round after posting the best group stage record in history. There was no question in the minds of the football pundits that: - Apoel a team listed 100 in the UEFA’S rankings of European clubs, who had never won a Champions league group game and a club that worked with a lowly budget of under 10 million Euros -a budget less than the annual take home pay of Cristiano Ronaldo: - Apoel was without doubt –going down.
They did, losing to the Spanish team by 3 goals –Apoel didn’t score a goal on the field but they metaphorically scored-hitting their opponents net multiple times in the eyes and minds of both supporters and even the pundits. This ‘small’ country team stood their ground against the might of Madrid for 70 action packed minutes without conceding a goal.
The game acted as a classic metaphor for the tourist industry, where small countries do have the right or, should I say the absolute prerogative, to be able to play in the tourism equivalent of the Champions league. A red card shouldn’t be waved in the faces of small countries whose tiny budgets mock the big leaguers, small countries can and do produce imaginative –creative proposals and they will invariably offer client’s higher levels of flexibility to equal even exceed that of a mass tourist destination.
Small countries will never be top of the tourist league but they will play and win points for the sheer unadulterated conviction at being able to get out there and show, like Apoel that although overpowered, outclassed, and out of pocket, they always display verve, nerve, and pride in what they do, regardless of the outcome, small may not always rise to the top but they will always be ready to play, and unlike some of the big hitters in the tourist business, they wont be prone to hitting any own goals.