By Andreas Vou
Last season’s double winners APOEL take on Cup finalists AEL Limassol in the Cyprus Super Cup in Nicosia on Wednesday night.
The pair met in the Cyprus Cup final back in May earlier this year where APOEL comprehensively wrapped up their second consecutive double. The Nicosia club ran out 4-2 winners in Larnaca and, because they had already won the league, they will again meet the Limassol side, who will be intent on taking revenge in this season’s curtain-raiser.
For APOEL, the season is already well underway, having already played four highly competitive UEFA Champions League qualifying matches over the course of the last month, from which they have qualified for the playoff round of Europe’s top club competition.
With the first leg playoff match in Kazakhstan against FC Astana just six days after the Super Cup, it remains to be seen whether manager Domingos Paciencia opts to rest some of his big names against AEL.
The Portuguese boss is playing not only for his first piece of silverware in his short time in Cyprus but also for the first trophy of his managerial career. However, the possibility of reaching the Champions League group stage could alter Paciencia’s selection process.
For AEL, it is their first official match of the campaign and manager Christakis Christoforou will still be unsure of his best starting line-up after a busy summer which has seen 11 new signings join and 13 players exit the club.
Goalkeeper Matias Degra, who famously conceded just seven goals throughout the regular 2011-12 season in which AEL won the title, has rejoined the club and is likely to start. AEL also announced the signing of former Monaco midfielder Mathieu Coutadeur on Tuesday, and he could be included in the matchday squad.
As ever in the build-up to a highly anticipated match in Cyprus, the police are trying their best to warn spectators about bringing any hazardous objects or provocative politically-motivated banners so as to avoid any potential conflicts.
“We emphasise to everyone that taking flares, firecrackers and other dangerous objects into the stadium is strictly forbidden, as well as political banners, offensive or provocative content and other apparel with political symbols,” an official police statement read ahead of the big match.
Since the turn of the century, APOEL have participated in nine Super Cups and have won all but three of them. One of those rare defeats came last year, when APOEL slipped to a shock 2-1 injury time defeat to Ermis Aradippou.
AEL’s last participation in the Super Cup was in 2012 when they lost 2-1 to Omonia but their last victory in the competition came in 1985 against the same opponents.
Wednesday’s match kicks off at 8pm at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, with the season’s first piece of silverware up for grabs.