By Iacovos Constantinou
THE football league resumes in Cyprus this weekend after the enforced ten-day break due to the Euro 2O16 internationals.
The six games will be played over a three day period (Saturday-Monday) with the two teams competing in European competitions, APOEL and Apollon, set to kick-off play on Saturday.
Having already been beaten once this season in the Super Cup by Ermis Aradippou, champions APOEL will have to put their mouthwatering Champions League clash in Barcelona on Wednesday on the back burner if they are to avoid a similar setback.
Rafik Djebbour, one of APOEL’s summer star signings is expected to make his debut but John Arne Riise’s debut will be delayed for at least another week as the Norwegian gets back to full fitness.
Ermis, rather surprisingly sacked their coach on Monday and replaced him with Nikki Papavassiliou who had just a couple of days to get to know his players.
However, Papavassiliou feels that his players are well prepared for the game and their recent Super Cup victory will give them the advantage they need to upset the champions.
Apollon entertain first division newcomers Ayia Napa and should prove too strong for Nicos Andronikou’s team.
The Limassol side has enough depth to rest a few players ahead of their Europa Cup opener against FC Zurich on Thursday should their coach decide to do so.
On the other hand, Andronikou does not have that luxury and his task has been made even harder as three of his squad players are ineligible for the game as they are loanees from Apollon. Marchev will also miss the game through injury.
Doxa Katokopias, the first team to sack their coach a couple of weeks ago, will have to show considerable improvement if they want to get anything out their game against AEL.
AEL were disappointing in their first home game of the season (draw with Ethnikos) and they know that only a return to victories will ease the pressure off both the players and Bulgarian coach Ivaylo Petev.
Omonia coach Costas Kaiafas meanwhile has labelled his team’s clash with Nea Salamina as the most difficult away game of the season!
Quite a strange comment if you consider that Nea Salamina have not managed to pick up one point in their home games against Omonia for 14 years.
Kaiafas will be glad to see experienced defender Anthony Scaramozzino back in contention for a place in the starting line-up while Nea Salamina will be without Marco Aurelio.
Ethnikos Achnas, the surprise leaders of the championship, should be able to defeat Othellos Athienou and maintain their position at the top of the table.
Pointless Anorthosis take on AEK Larnaca in Monday’s other game. Both teams have shown that they will be no pushovers this season despite a major overhaul in their squads. They both deserved to get something out of their last games against Omonia and APOEL respectively.
Saturday, September 13th : APOEL v Ermis Aradippou (19.00), Apollon v Ayia Napa (20.00)
Sunday, September 14th: Doxa Katokopias vs AEL (19.00), Nea Salamina vs Omonia (20.00)
Monday, September 15th: Ethnikos Achnas vs Othellos Athienou, Anorthosis vs AEK (both 19.00)