By Iacovos Constantinou
EVEN though there are just two rounds to go until the end of the regular season in the Cyprus football championship, the only thing that has been decided is that winless Ayia Napa are the first of two teams to be automatically relegated.
At the top it’s a two-horse race between APOEL and AEK while four teams are all in with a chance of a top-six finish.
The second relegation spot will go to one of four teams – Enosis, Paphos FC, Ethnikos and Ermis – as just four points separate them.
The most important game at the foot of the table is the ‘six-pointer’ between Paphos FC and Ermis Aradippou. A draw or a win will guarantee the visitors a place in the playoffs while for the Paphos team a win will go a long way in securing their playoff place as well.
A lot will depend on their fellow strugglers, especially Enosis, who are currently a point behind Paphos.
Enosis have a difficult home game against Omonia and know that they need to win to keep their survival hopes alive.
On the other hand Omonia need the points to stay in the hunt for a place that will allow them to compete in Europe next season.
Ethnikos are the fourth relegation-threatened team and they come up against a much improved AEL. Ethnikos will be without three key players in Pinceli, Atanda and Everton but they will have Iakob back in defence having served his suspension.
AEL, dumped out of the cup last Wednesday, have a slim chance of a top-six finish and will not take this game lightly.
Up until a month ago there was never a doubt that Nea Salamina would finish in the top six. However after winning just one game in their last six, their opponents Doxa are just two points behind and can overtake them if they defeat the Famagusta team.
There is also an exciting game at the top as second-placed AEK take on third-placed Apollon.
AEK have faltered in recent weeks, allowing APOEL to overturn a seven-point deficit. They cannot afford any more slip-ups especially as APOEL are at home to Ayia Napa this week. However they will need to up their game to overcome one of the most in-form teams of the championship.
Apollon trail AEK by six points and know that only a win can give their slim championship chances a boost.
The final game of the round is between Aris and Anorthosis with the latter more eager for the three points in order to consolidate their European qualifying position.
Saturday: Enosis v Omonia, Paphos FC v Ermis (16.00), APOEL v Ayia Napa, Aris v Anorthosis (18.00)
Sunday: Nea Salamina v Doxa, AEL v Ethnikos, AEK v Apollon (all at 16.00)
League Table after 24 games:
1 APOEL LEFKOSIAS 56
2 A.E.K.LARNAKAS 55
3 APOLLONAS LEMESOU 49
4 ANORTHOSI AMMOCHOSTOU 48
5 OMONOIA LEFKOSIAS 43
6 NEA SALAMINA AMMOCHOSTOU 31
7 DOXA KATOKOPIAS 29
8 AEL LEMESOU 28
9 ARIS LEMESOU 27
10 ERMIS ARADIPPOU 24
11 ETHNIKOS ACHNAS 23
12 PAFOS F.C. 21
13 ENOSIS NEON PARALIMNIOU 20
14 AG. NAPA 6