By Nemanja Bjedov
DEFENDING Cyprus champions APOEL and Cup winners Apollon are hoping to reach the Europa League group stage ahead of Thursday night’s second leg playoff ties.
APOEL held Belgian opponents SV Zulte-Waregem to a 1-1 draw last Thursday in Brussels, while Apollon upset French side Nice 2-0 at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia in the first legs.
“We are expecting a very difficult match, but we approach it with big dreams and great expectations from all of us. We will all try to fully focus on our ultimate goal which is to get a chance to relive those proud moments we had with APOEL in Europe in the last few years,” said APOEL’s goal scorer in Belgium, Nektarios Alexandrou, who leveled the score with a left-footed lob in the 88th minute.
“We want to put us back on the European map and we have no room for error beyond tonight. We are ready to give everything we have on the pitch in order to do that. Throughout those 90 minutes there will be moments that will require strength, courage, enthusiasm and self-confidence and we need to be prepared for that because the final result will be the only indicator who will reach the group stage of the competition,” Alexandrou added.
The match at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia is scheduled to kick-off at 8pm, while an hour later Apollon will take on Nice at the Stade Municipal du Ray.
“We are travelling to Nice in order to finish what we have started on the GSP Stadium last Thursday. We know what we will face. It will be a very difficult match against much stronger team than ours. Definitely 2-0 first leg advantage does not guarantee us anything. We want to score a goal on the night and therefore increase our chances of reaching the group stage,” assessed Apollon spokesman
Gaston Sangoy’s brace secured an unlikely 2-0 victory for the Limassol outfit last week and all eyes will be on him yet again, because if Christakis Christoforou’s men manage to score at least once in France they would pile a mountain of pressure on their hosts.
“Nice have a very good squad with many quality players, but they are not unbeatable. They have their weaknesses and we have scouted them well. Our coach knows what has to be done and our players are in a very optimistic mood ahead of the match and we all believe that we have what it takes to advance,” he added.
By Nemanja Bjedov