Cyprus Mail
Football Sport

Apollon aiming for winning start in Europa League

By Andreas Vou

Apollon will be looking to start their Europa League campaign with three points when they host FC Zurich at the GSP Stadium on Thursday night.

The Limassol side are no strangers to the competition having qualified for the group stages last year where they finished third in their group, and will be hoping to use that experience in their favour when they take on Zurich.

The 2013/14 campaign saw them amass four points, including a win away to Legia Warsaw, but Christakis Christoforou’s men did not manage a victory at home, something which they aim to put right this time around.

While it is by no means an easy game, it is the one which is most winnable for the Limassol side, in front of their own fans, with Borussia Monchengladbach and Villarreal being the two fancied teams to qualify for the next round.

Apollon pulled off one of the biggest results of the play-off round to reach the groups when they defeated Lokomotiv Moscow 1-4 in the Russian capital to add to their 1-1 draw in Cyprus.

And despite their disappointing start to the Cypriot league season where they lost 2-5 at home to AEK Larnaca on the opening day, they go into Thursday’s match in good spirits following their 1-0 win over Ayia Napa, their second league win in succession.

The scorer of that solitary goal was talisman Gaston Sangoy who Apollon are delighted to have back in the team for a crucial home European match. The Argentine missed the first leg against Lokomotiv, which finished 1-1 in Nicosia, through suspension and the difference with him in the side in the second leg was evident.

The Swiss club, on their part, have enjoyed an excellent start to the domestic season as they sit top of the league after eight games, one point ahead of Champions League participants FC Basel.

Much of their success is down to Davide Chiumento and Amine Chermiti who have scored five and four times respectively in the league while Chermiti netted a hat-trick in the first leg of their play-off encounter against Spartak Trnava – Apollon’s biggest task will be to keep their deadly duo as quiet as possible.

Zurich have also had their fair share of European adventures in recent years having reached the group stages of either the Europa League or Champions League in four of the last six campaigns.

Though their opponents cannot be underestimated, Apollon will see this as their best opportunity to earn their first home win at home in the group stages and put down a solid marker for the more difficult challenges which lie ahead.


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