By Staff Reporter
THE Cyprus football association KOP will decide who takes the championship title after referee Demetris Mashias suspended Saturday’s crucial game just six minutes into the second half when firecrackers, thrown by AEL fans, hurt an APOEL player and a doctor.
The suspension could dash all hopes for the Limassol side to win the title for the second time in three years, as it was just three points clear of the Nicosia side and needed a win to lift the crown. On the other hand, if APOEL wins the ruling, it could win the title and head confident into Wednesday’s Cup final at GSP in Nicosia against Ermis Aradhippou.
Brazilian defender Kaka and doctor Costas Schizas were hurt by a firecracker thrown from the AEL fans’ stands in Limassol’s Tsireion stadium in the 51st minute of the game, when the score was still at a nail-biting 0-0. They were put on stretchers and rushed to hospital. Three minutes earlier, fans from the APOEL stand had thrown other objects onto the field.
The record 500 police, brought in to prevent clashes among fans of the two clubs known for their violence, were moved in and after an hour’s deliberation, the referee and his assistants decided the game would be suspended.
The police said that fans were leaving rather peacefully, while it also announced that the main roads around the APOEL club in the capital would be closed to traffic, for fear of violent outbursts or celebrations by the rowdy fans.
Three points separated the two sides going into yesterday’s title decider with the Limassol club knowing that either a win or a draw would be enough to earn their second championship in three years.
APOEL went into the game knowing that only a win would be enough to give them their first back-to-back league titles since the 1948/49 campaign when they sealed three consecutive league wins.
The first half saw the home side defend efficiently, and their aim to contain an APOEL team which had no other option than to go for all three points worked well.
In a typically heated atmosphere for a game of such importance, the match saw tempers flare leading to more petty squabbles rather than clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities for either side.
Ultimately, the match was marred by an incident in which fans through objects onto the field, some of which hit players and staff, leading to the game being suspended with the score at 0-0.
APOEL entered the field with the best defence, having conceded just 25 goals in 36 matches, and the most fearsome attack, scoring 77 goals, but it remains to be seen as to whether they can retain their records.
While the title remains undecided, both APOEL and AEL will be in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Champions League as the 2014/15 season will be the first to include two Cypriot clubs in the preliminary rounds of Europe’s elite competition.
KOP will have to decide whether the game will be awarded to either of the two teams or if the game will be continue from suspension time. Alternatively, there is also the possibility of the game being replayed from the start. (Additional reporting by Andreas Vou)