By Iacovos Constantinou
THE Cyprus football championship resumes today following the obligatory international break with the top-of-the-table showdown between leaders APOEL and second- placed Apollon at the Tsirion stadium in Limassol.
On Saturday Omonia entertain AEL, Anorthosis travel to Nicosia to face Doxa and first division newcomers Othellos are at home to Ayia Napa. On Sunday Nea Salamina clash with Ermis and finally on Monday Ethnikos Achnas play against AEK Larnaca.
Even though there is still a long way to go, a win for Apollon will see them leapfrog over APOEL and take pole position for the first time this year.
The Limassol team, under new Romanian coach Ioan Antone, seem to have added a bit of steel to their play to compliment their fluent attacking football that has seen them score 21 goals, four more than any other team.
Two absentees for Apollon in Mulder and Stylianou – and both cover the right side of defence – give Antone an unwelcome headache with Lopes the favourite to fill the spot.
Influential striker Gaston Sangoy is fit after an injury and is expected to return to the starting line-up.
Defending champions APOEL were given a shock wake-up call in their last game when they failed to defeat lowly Doxa allowing Apollon to move to within two points of them at the top.
Only Charalambides in unavailable through injury and Greek coach Giorgos Donis has to decide whether his most incisive player Aloneftis is fit enough to start the game after being plagued by a niggling injury for some time now.
Sheridan, a fan’s favourite, should be recalled to the starting eleven with APOEL’s veteran striker Gustavo Manduca partnering him up front.
In defence APOEL will rely on their trusted Brazilian pairing of Amorin and Carlao and it remains to be seen if the meanest defence can keep at bay the most productive forward line of the league.
Omonia entertain AEL on Saturday with both teams level on points in mid-table positions.
The Nicosia team cannot afford to drop any more points, especially at home, while AEL’s new coach Christophorou (previously of Apollon) hopes to make a winning start with his new team.
Doxa Katokopias take on Anorthosis at the Makarios stadium with the visitors favourites to take all three points while the two teams recently promoted from the second division, Othellos and Agia Napa, involved in a six-pointer.
Nea Salamina will be looking to bounce back after a run of bad results while their opponents Ermis have gradually moved up to fourth place following a shaky start to the season.
On Monday Ethnikos Achnas are at home to third placed AEK Larnaca.
Fixtures 21-24 November
Friday : Apollon vs APOEL (19.00)
Saturday: Omonia vs AEL (16.00). Doxa vs Anorthosis (17.00), Othellos vs Agia Napa (19.00)
Sunday: Nea Salamina vs Ermis (18.00)
Monday: Ethnikos Achnas vs AEK LCA (19.00)