By Iacovos Constantinou
Over the past few days all football talk in Cyprus has centered around referee Marios Panayi’s corruption allegations and rightly so, but there are also six games to be played this weekend before the Cyprus league goes on a two-week winter break.
Leaders APOEL face a tricky tie against perhaps one of the most improved sides in recent weeks, third placed Ermis Aradippou.
Their task is made even more difficult as four more players (Manduca, Amorin, Morais, Efraim) join long-term absentees Charalambides and Tomas de Vincenti in the stands.
Ermis were desperately unlucky to lose to Apollonas last week and will be looking to return to winning ways. Coach Nicky Papavassiliou, who has done wonders since taking over in the autumn, has just one player missing, the suspended Tsina.
Omonia entertain Nea Salamina at the GSP stadium with both teams’ form slipping badly in recent weeks.
Omonia have managed just two wins in their last five games while Nea Salamina have not won in their last five games. Omonia are almost at full strength while
Nea Salamina, who are perilously close to the relegation zone, welcome back from injury their captain Diego Leon and Eden Monteiro.
Second-placed Apollonas travel to Paralimni to face struggling Ayia Napa and anything other than a win for the visitors will be a major setback to their championship aspirations.
The Limassol side will be without their captains Merkis and Sangoy who are both suspended.
Ayia Napa, currently rooted at the foot of the table, have been playing some good football at times, but they need to start picking up points if they are to stay in the top flight.
In the final Saturday game, Othellos Athienou are at home to Ethnikos Achnas in what can be considered a relegation six-pointer as both teams are in or just above the drop zone.
AEK Larnaca who were involved in an eight-goal thriller last weekend, entertain fast-improving Anorthosis in one of the most interesting clashes.
AEK’s Colautti returns after injury and will be looking to score against his old team while the Famagusta side are at full strength following the return of defensive stalwart Serran Polo.
In the second Sunday game, AEL face Doxa Katokopias at the Tsirion with the Limassol team expected to take all three points.