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APOEL take on Apollon in weekend’s crucial game in Cyprus

Leaders APOEL take on fourth-placed Apollon, with the visitors not beating the champions in Nicosia for ten years

By Iacovos Constantinou

THE first half of the regular season in the Cyprus football championship ends this weekend with leaders APOEL taking on fourth-placed Apollon in the round’s most crucial game.

Second-placed Anorthosis face a tricky tie away to Paralimni, while AEK, level on 27 points in second, complete the 13th round on Monday evening with a home game against Ermis Aradippou.

APOEL will be hoping to put an end to their dismal run against the ‘top’ teams this season having picked up just two out of a possible nine points.
APOEL coach Temur Ketsbaia though will need to address his defensive problems as at least four players that cover at the back are out through injury or suspension while a fifth, Carlao, will face a late fitness test with the odds stacked against him.

There are no such problems up front where Efraim is back in the reckoning, and along with de Vincenti and Cavenaghi, will try and pierce the league’s meanest defense.

Apollon, six points off the top, have problems of their own as they will be without six players. The consolation for their coach Emmanuel though is that these players cover different positions making his team selection less arduous than that of his Georgian counterpart.

It’s more than a decade since the Limassol team last defeated APOEL in Nicosia and they will need to have their Ivorian international Guie Guie back at his very best if they are to break this miserable run.

Anorthosis coach Andre Paous has urged his players to stay focused and not get carried away by their recent impressive run.
He said: “Paralimni impressed against Omonia proving that they cannot be taken lightly”.

Ronny van Geneugden, Paralimni’s recently appointed coach, seems to have instilled a new sense of belief in his players who were desperately unlucky not to leave the GSP last week with all three points.

AEL, who are perilously close to the relegation zone, take on Omonia at the Tsirion with a draw favouring neither team.
It will be an emotional return for Omonia’s Luciano Bebe who will play for the first time against the team that brought him to Cyprus four years ago and who he made 100 appearances for.

Fifth-placed Nea Salamina have a seemingly easy game against lowly Ethnikos Achnas while Aris take on the team rooted at the bottom of the table Ayia Napa in Limassol, and Paphos FC entertain Doxa.

Saturday: Paralimni vs Anorthosis (17.00), Aris vs Ayia Napa (18.00), APOEL vs Apollon (19.00)

Sunday: Paphos FC vs Doxa (16.00), Nea Salamina vs Ethnikos Achnas (17.00), AEL vs Omonia (18.00)

Monday: AEK vs Ermis (19.00)

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