By Iacovos Constantinou
THE Limassol derby between leaders AEL and third-placed Apollon stands out in this week’s fixture list that starts with the local derby on Saturday and ends on Monday evening with Nea Salamina’s game against Ermis Aradippou.
This will be AEL’s third consecutive game against opposition in the top quarter of the table and a win against their local rivals at the Tsirion Stadium will put them in a commanding position as they will be heading towards the play-off games with a potential four-point lead.
However they will be denied the services of their defensive stalwart Edwin Ouon due to suspension and this may prove costly against a team that possesses perhaps the most lethal striker in the league, top scorer Gaston Sangoy of Argentina.
Apollon, buoyed by their mid-week cup win over Omonia, know that if they lose, their title hopes will all but disappear as they will trail AEL by nine points. Apollon will also be without one of their key players as midfielder Rashid Hamtani is suspended for this crucial game.
Second placed APOEL entertain Doxa Katokopias in a game which the Nicosia team is expected to win. The champions will be at full strength with left back Pipinis returning to action after injury. Doxa, having secured last Wednesday a place in the last four of the Cup for the first time in their history, and sitting comfortably in mid-table, may opt to rest some players.
Anorthosis, a team that failed to live up to the pundits’ early expectations as title favourites, will go to the GSZ Stadium to face AEK Larnaca. The Famagusta team, booed off the field in their last game after another abject performance, will hope that AEK will be more concerned with their upcoming Cup quarter-final second leg tie against Ermis rather than their clash.
Aris Limassol, hovering just above the automatic relegation zone, will not have an easy task against Omonia. Having been knocked out of the Cup in midweek, the Nicosia giants need a win to stay within range of the positions that can lead to European qualification.
Ethnikos Achnas, unbeaten in the last three games, are expected to extend their run when they face AEK Kouklion while Enosis Neon Paralimni know that only three points will do against already relegated Alki if they are to have a chance of climbing out of the relegation zone.
On Monday evening Nea Salamina will face Ermis Aradippou with the visiting team eager to maintain their push for a top-three finish.