By Iacovos Constantinou
The Cyprus football league resumes this week following local referees’ decision to abstain from all of last week’s games due to a bomb planted outside the house of a referee’s mother.
Despite rumours about the dismantling of the Cyprus Referees Association and the possible arrival of foreign referees to officiate first division games nothing has happened so far, so it’s business as usual!
Second placed APOEL travel to Larnaca to face Nea Salamina in a game where both teams are desperate for the three points albeit for different reasons.
APOEL have not won a league game in almost two months relinquishing a five point lead and finding themselves now three points off the top with a host of teams within reach of overtaking them should they fail to win again.
Gustavo Manduca, Aloneftis and Vinicius are still out but new German coach Thorsten Fink can call upon his teams new signings Valmir Nafiu from Skopje and German Martin Lanig.
Nea Salamina are just three points off the danger zone following a bad run and they too will be without two of their most influential players in Leon and Grigalasvili. Recent signing Papava is expected to make his debut.
Bottom of the table Ayia Napa take on Ermis Aradippou in Paralimni with the visitors hoping to end a poor run that saw them drop from third to sixth place.
The home team has lost central defender Rochas for the rest of the season with a ligament rupture while Ermis’ coach Papavassiliou has all his players at his disposal.
Omonia have been in excellent form recently and should prove too strong for next-to-bottom side Doxa Katokopias.
Omonia’s coach Kaiafas will be without influential midfielder Nuno Assis with Doxa’s coach Boban Krismarevic facing similar problems as Ricardo Fernandez picked up his fourth yellow card a couple of weeks ago and is suspended for the game.
AEL take on AEK at the Tsireion knowing that only a win can keep their hopes of a top six finish alive.
On the other hand AEK can move into second place with a win and a favourable result at the Salamina-APOEL game.
Othellos Athienou, buoyed by their mid-week triumph over Apollon play hosts to Anorthosis with a closely fought game expected.
No problems for the team from Athieonu while Anorthosis received a boost on Thursday when their experienced midfielder Makos returned to full training.
On Monday Ethinkos Achnas are at home to Apollon in a fixture that completes the 18th round of the football league.
Saturday: Nea Salamina vs APOEL (5pm), Ayia Napa vs Ermis Aradippou (7pm)
Sunday: Omonia vs Doxa & Othellos Athienou vs Anorthosis (4pm), AEL vs AEK (6pm)
Monday: Ethnikos Achnas vs Apollonas (7pm)