By Nemanja Bjedov
THE first match between AEL and APOEL was played in 1931, making the duel the oldest one in Cypriot football as the two sides go head-to-head on Saturday at 7pm in the second round of the national championship at the Tsirion Stadium in Limassol.
“This is the first important match of the season for us against a very good team such as APOEL. We need to be very serious because this is a crucial game for us. Although it is only the second round of the league it will give us a good picture of our potential,” said AEL midfielder Georgios Eleftheriou.
Defending champions APOEL have the upper hand in matches against AEL, with the Nicosia giants winning 33 times, while AEL have won 24 matches and 19 ending in a draw.
“I hope we have a good match. We worked really well this week preparing for APOEL and we have our game plan and we should do well,” said AEL’s Brazilian defender Diego Gaucho.
“We will do everything we can to record a victory and earn three points.”
APOEL coach Paulo Sergio will not be able to count on influential Brazilian midfielder Gustavo Manduca and Tunisian Selim Benachour for the match as they are both out injured, while the duo are also doubtful for the Nicosia side’s first match in the Europa League group stage against Maccabi Tel Aviv on Thursday in Israel.
Elsewhere, tonight at 8pm, Nea Salamina host newcomers AEK Kouklion, who upset AEK Larnaca on the opening day with a 2-1 victory, while Omonia take on Enosis Neon Paralimni in what should be one-way traffic at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia.
On Sunday afternoon at 6pm AEK face Ethnikos Achnas in Larnaca, while Anorthosis meet cup holders Apollon Limassol at the Antonis Papadopoulos Stadium. Newly promoted Aris meet Doxa Katokopia in Limassol an hour later.
Anorthosis coach Jorge Costa has selection problems as Yiannis Okkas, Valentinos Sielis and George Galamaz are all set to miss the Apollon test, with the visitors from Limassol coming to Larnaca wanting to maintain their confidence ahead of their Europa League group stage opener on Thursday at home against Turkey’s Trabzonspor.
In the final match of Round 2, on Monday evening at 7pm, Ermis host Alki in a minor Larnaca derby at the Ammochostos Stadium.
By Nemanja Bjedov