By Nemanja Bjedov
APOEL coach Giorgos Donis hopes his side can join already qualified Germans Eintracht Frankfurt in the knockout stage of the Europa League, as he returns to the city where he was born looking for a win on the final match day of the group stage.
“It is a really emotional journey for me to return to the place where I was born. Although I lived there for only six years of my life, my parents were there and I still have several relatives living in Frankfurt,” said Donis, whose side can finish second in Group F if they win in Frankfurt and Maccabi Tel-Aviv lose at home against Bordeaux by a margin which gives the Cypriot side a superior goal difference.
“The match against Maccabi left us with just a glimmer of hope, but we will do everything we can to get a positive result against Eintracht. We simply must win and hope Maccabi lose to Bordeaux at home. We cannot qualify under any other circumstances,” he added.
“Even if we do not manage to advance we still have to protect the reputation of our club and at least give them a good fight on the way out,“ Donis concluded.
The match between Eintracht and APOEL will be played at the Frankfurt Stadium with the kick-off set for 8pm.
Just over two hours later, Cypriot cup holders Apollon host Legia Warszawa at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia as both clubs bring the curtain down on their Europa League Group J campaigns.
Gaston Sangoy scored the only goal as Apollon won 1-0 in Warsaw in their first meeting with a Polish side on match day two.
They became the first Cypriot club to avoid defeat on Polish soil in a UEFA club competition game and although Apollon have already shifted their focus to the local championship they will definitely go for another win over the visitors from Poland.
Apollon coach Christakis Christoforou should have all his players available for the clash with Legia, who are the only team without a point and goal so far in the group stage of the competition.
Only Irish side Shamrock Rovers, in season 2011/12, have previously lost all six group games since the advent of the Europa League, and no club has ever gone through the entire group stage without scoring.
By Nemanja Bjedov