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Nicosia giants clash, crunch time in relegation battle

Champions APOEL, unbeaten since the beginning of November, take on arch-rivals Omonia

By Iacovos Constantinou

THE second team to join Alki in the second division will be decided on the last day of the regular season on Wednesday with two of the three ‘unwilling’ contenders, AEK Kouklion and Aris Limassol, facing daunting fixtures against league leaders AEL and third-placed Apollon respectively.

It will take quite a performance from the Kouklia team if they are to get anything out of their clash with leaders AEL. The Limassol team wants all three points so that they can begin the playoff stage with at least a one-point advantage over their nearest rivals. As things stand now, a draw will be enough for AEK to beat the drop for now.

The same can be said about the Aris Limassol v Apollon clash at the Tsirion Stadium even though in this case a draw may not be enough for Aris to beat the drop. Apollon, three points off the top, cannot afford to fall further behind as this may prove costly in their challenge for the championship.

The third relegation candidate, Enosis Neon Paralimni, were considered a certainty for the drop a month ago but a string of favourable results saw them climb to within two points of fellow strugglers Aris. Against Ethnikos Achnas only a win will give them hope of first division survival.

The most attention-grabbing clash of the day is the Nicosia derby between Omonia and APOEL. Omonia have all but given up hope for any domestic honours but this will count for nothing when they face their fiercest rivals. A win will be some kind of consolation for their demanding but loyal fans. APOEL, unbeaten since the beginning of November, welcome back five players from injury and suspension and hope to extend their unbeaten run.

Ermis Aradippou travel to the Antonis Papadopoulos stadium to face Anorthosis. They will be hoping to heap more misery on Anorthosis, who have lost their previous five games and seem incapable of any fightback.

If rumours are to be believed Alki may be playing not only their last game in the top division but their last game as Alki Football Club against Nea Salmina.

The final game of the day is between Doxa Katokopias and AEK Larnaca.

Doxa Katokopias v AEK Larnaca (15.30), Ethnikos Achnas v Enosis Neon Paralimniou, AEK Kouklion v AEL, Alki v Nea Salamina, Apollon v Aris (all 16.00), Omonia v APOEL and Anorthosis v Ermis (18.00)

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