By Andreas Vou
The 2015/16 Cyprus football season gets underway on Saturday with APOEL defending both major trophies for the second year running and the usual suspects aiming to bring an end to the Nicosia club’s recent dominance.
As ever, there has been plenty of chopping and changing amongst the clubs with a host of new faces brought in by each side.
The league has lost some of its biggest names over the summer but has also seen an influx of some established players looking to make an impact on the island.
Champions and Cup holders APOEL have made nine new signings including one of the league’s star performers of last year in Vander Vieira from AEK Larnaca.
They have also brought back Constantinos Makrides after a spell in Ukraine as well as Dutch goalkeeper Boy Waterman who has impressed in APOEL’s Champions League qualifiers.
Apollon came close to winning the title last campaign, ending the regular season top of the league ahead of APOEL, but lost momentum in the championship playoff round and eventually fell to third spot. The Limassol club have parted ways with talisman Gaston Sangoy and the onus is now very much on Cypriot striker Giorgos Kolokoudias as well as Ivory Coast star Abraham Guyie (if he can remain fit) to take on the mantle.
AEK were last year’s surprise package as Thomas Christiansen’s side achieved their highest league finish ever, ending the campaign in second place just three points behind APOEL.
Among the nine new faces brought in by the Larnaca club, the signing of French-born Cypriot international Vincent Laban stands out as one of the best of the off-season.
AEL have made quite a statement by re-signing goalkeeper Matias Degra who was pivotal to their 2012 title win as well as French midfielder Mathieu Coutadeur from Lorient. Their recent Super Cup win over APOEL has given AEL a huge boost going into the new season as they look to vastly improve on their disappointing seventh place finish last time around.
After losing last season’s top goalscorer Mickael Pote to Turkish club Adana Demirspor, Omonia have replaced him with one of the surprise transfers of the summer, bringing in Cillian Sheridan from rivals APOEL. The Irishman is already settling well at Omonia, scoring three times in Europa League qualifying.
Ermis Aradippou have been the busiest of all Cypriot clubs, with a whopping 26 new signings and 20 departures from last season.
APOEL begin the defense of their league title away to Ermis on Saturday while the two newly-promoted clubs Paphos and Aris Limassol face tough opening day fixtures as they take on AEK at home and Apollon away respectively.
Saturday August 22:
Omonia – Nea Salamis 19:00
Paphos FC – AEK Larnaca 19:00
Ermis Aradippou – APOEL 20:00
Sunday August 23:
Apollon Limassol – Aris Limassol 19:00
Ethnikos Achnas – Doxa Katokopia 19:00
Anorthosis – AEL Limassol 20:00
Monday August 24:
Ayia Napa – Enosis Paralimni 19:00