By Iacovos Constantinou
WITH two more rounds to go before the football championship enters the playoff stage, the top six teams have already booked their places. At the wrong end of the table though, the second spot (Alki got the other one a long time ago) that leads to automatic relegation is still awaiting a suitor with three teams embroiled in the struggle.
Two of these teams, Enosis Neon Paralimni and AEK Kouklion meet each other at the Tasos Markou stadium in Paralimni and anything but a home win will almost certainly send Enosis to the second division. A point will give AEK the chance to try and beat the drop in the playoffs.
The third team in the mix is Aris Limassol who face inconsistent Anorthosis at the Tsirion stadium. Under Dutch coach Tom Caanen, Aris have shown immense improvement and only a series of unfortunate refereeing decisions has kept them just two points off the drop.
Leaders AEL are at home to Doxa Katokopias and they should have few problems in recording their 18th win. AEL need the points to maintain top spot while the visiting team, Doxa, are in a relatively safe league position and will be more concerned with their upcoming Cup semi-final tie early next month.
Second-placed APOEL will be without two of their most influential players, Morais in midfield and De Vincenti in attack. Aloneftis and Vinicius were also doubtful but they have recovered and have been included in the squad. They will have to overcome Ethnikos Achnas who were desperately unlucky not get something out of last week’s visit to the GSP stadium against Omonia.
Omonia, with their former player Costas Kaiafas taking over as coach earlier this week, travel to Larnaca to face Ermis Aradippou. A win for the Nicosia giants will put them above Ermis on goal difference. On the other hand Ermis, buoyed by their recent cup success, will be content with a share of the spoils.
Third placed Apollonas face a tricky tie against unpredicatable Nea Salamina at the Ammochostos stadium but should prove too strong for the home side. The team from Limassol needs all three points to keep up the pressure on the two teams above them.
Finally AEK Larnaca take on relegated Alki in a game which the home team should win comfortably.
Saturday March 15th
Aris v Anorthosis, AEK Larnaca v Alki, Enosis Neon Paralimniou v AEK Kouklion, APOEL v Ethnikos Achnas (all 16.00) Ermis Aradippou v Omonia (18.00)
Sunday March 16th
Nea Salamina v Apollon, AEL v Doxa Katokopias (16.00)