By Iacovos Constantinou
It’s back to football this weekend, despite the arrest of the Chairman of the Cyprus Referee’s Association (CRA) Michalis Argyrou on suspicion of match fixing in wake of the Panayi allegations.
Earlier in the week there were rumours that the weekend games may be called off but the President of the Cyprus Football Association Costakis Koutsokoumnis quickly dispelled them.
AEL and APOEL, two teams in desperate need of a win, clash at the Tsireion stadium in the most significant weekend game.
AEL have picked up just three points from their last four games while APOEL have managed just a couple more.
AEL will be without their midfield lynchpin Bebe and Dialo through suspension while defender Carlitos has already left Cyprus to play for Cape Verde in the African Nations Cup. Marios Nicolaou will probably slot into the team to play alongside Sachetti in midfield while coach Christophorou seems yet undecided on the two other positions.
Having parted company with Giorgos Donis, APOEL’s starting eleven will be picked by caretaker coach Savvas Paraskevas who has taken charge of the team until the Nicosia team decide on their new coach (decision expected late Friday).
Paraskevas has a daunting task at hand with Cypriot international Giorgos Efraim joining the injury list along with regulars Vinicius, Sheridan, Manduca and Aloneftis. Doubtful for the game is Carlao while Charalambides could be in contention for a squad place after returning from a long term injury.
Omonia take on Ethnikos Achnas in Nicosia where they will want to avenge their first round defeat. The Nicosia team is sweating on the league’s top goalscorer Pote who has missed the last two training sessions. Margaca is suspended while there may be a place in the starting eleven for Omonia’s new signing Maltese international striker Skembri, especially if Pote fails the late fitness test.
Ethnikos have moved up to seventh place after a good run and will prove to be a tough test for Omonia. Ethnikos have signed on loan till the end of the season Anorthosis’ goalkeeper Valverde.
Third placed Ermis Aradippou will look to bounce back from their defeat at Anorthosis last week but they will have to be at their best as they face AEK, who on their day can beat any team.
Recently signed Adorno, Turko and Lopes are all available for Ermis while AEK will be without five first team players in Sipo, Englezou, Bojievic, Mitides and Cante but will have new signing Monteiro available.
In the remaining games Nea Salamina entertain struggling Doxa while Anorthosis will be looking to extend their winning run when they play bottom of the league Ayia Napa.
On Monday leaders Apollon travel to Larnaca to face Othellos Athienou, a team they failed to beat a few days ago in a cup game in Limassol.
Saturday: Omonia vs Ethnikos Achnas & Nea Salamina vs Doxa (5pm), Ermis vs AEK (7pm)
Sunday: AEL vs APOEL (3pm), Ayia Napa vs Anorthosis (6pm)
Monday: Othellos vs Apollonas (7pm)