By Nemanja Bjedov
APOEL coach Giorgos Donis was pleased with his side’s second-half performance despite a goalless draw in Nicosia against Maccabi Tel-Aviv in their penultimate game in the Europa League, which probably represents a European exit for the Cyprus champions.
“Overall it was a good effort. In the first half we lost a lot of energy trying to pressure them, but also we cannot forget that they are a quality side with some excellent players. It was never going to be an easy task for us. However, if we can perform in the domestic championship as we did in the second half I am sure that we will win many games and defend our title,” assessed Donis.
The result left APOEL third in Group F with five points, three behind Maccabi. They now need to beat Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany as convincingly as possible and hope that Bordeaux defeat the Israeli champions in Tel-Aviv in the same manner.
“We cannot turn back time. If we had won against Bordeaux in France this result would have a different meaning now. We need to focus on the bigger picture and realise that over the last three games we improved significantly,” added Donis whose side entertain AEK Kouklion on Monday evening in Round 11 of the Cyprus championship.
After losing 4-2 away to Trabzonspor which ended their hopes of qualifying for the knock-out stage of the Europa League, Apollon will also now shift their focus to Monday night when they visit AEK Larnaca at the GSZ Stadium.
“We had to face the best team in our group and I consciously rested some players and gave a chance to those who were fresh and those who did not get much playing time this season,” said Apollon coach Christakis Christoforou.
“I am pleased with the young players who featured as they did well and this will be a great experience for them. The Europa League story is finished, now we think only of AEK,” concluded Christoforou whose side lead the national championship after ten rounds with 24 points.
Elsewhere, Aris host in-form Ermis Aradippou in the Round 11 opener on Saturday afternoon at 6pm, while an hour later Nea Salamina take on Anorthosis.
On Sunday afternoon at 5pm AEL and Enosis Neon Paralimni face Alki and Doxa Katokopia respectively, while Ethnikos Achnas meet Omonia at the Dasaki Stadium in Achna at 6pm.