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Local derbies dominate Cyprus playoffs

Arch-rivals APOEL and Omonia clash at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia

By Iacovos Constantinou
DESPITE being only into the third of a total of ten playoff games, the two local derbies in the top group between Apollon v AEL in Limassol and Omonia v APOEL may well prove decisive.

Apollon know that only a win against their local rivals will keep their slim hopes of the championship alive. Apollon will be without their experienced defender Karipidis and midfielder Gullon, who are both serving a one match suspension. However they welcome back leading scorer Gaston Sangoy, who along with striker Paboulis, are capable of upsetting the meanest of defences.

AEL will be out to avenge the team that inflicted their last defeat more than a month ago. The AEL players, with only the league to play for, may prove too strong for their opponents especially as the game wears on.

Omonia have improved in leaps and bounds since new coach Kaiafas took over and they will fancy their chances against their bitter rivals APOEL. Kaiafas will have all players available while it appears that APOEL will be without their star forward De Vincenti. However APOEL’s Greek coach Donis is spoilt for choice up front with both Brazilian Santin and Paraguayan Adorno back in the reckoning.

In the last game of the top group Anorthosis take on Ermis Aradippou. The Famagusta team will continue to field young local talent while Ermis is expected to rest a number of key players ahead of their Cup semi-final second leg against Apollon next Wendesday.

In the relegation scramble, Aris Limassol takes on Ethnikos Achnas at the Tsirion stadium. A win for Aris will see them move above Ethnikos and out of the relegation zone while the visiting team may even settle for a draw.

AEK Kouklion are seven points adrift of safety and even if they win against Doxa Katokopias they will need a few more wins and some favourable results to climb away from the drop zone. Doxa, deemed safe from relegation a few weeks ago, is just a couple of points from the danger zone and cannot afford to lose the game.
In a game of little or no interest, the leaders of the bottom group Nea Salamina entertain second-placed AEK Larnaca at the Ammochostos stadium.

All three group A games will be played on Saturday at 18.00 while two of the group B games, Aris v Ethnikos and Nea Salamina v AEK Larnaca will start on Sunday at 17.00. The AEK Kouklion v Doxa game will be played on saturday at 17.00.

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