By Iacovos Constantinou
Second placed Anorthosis entertain fourth placed Apollon in the most important tie of the round this weekend, while leaders AEK are away to Nea Salamina. Third placed APOEL travel to Limassol to face much improved AEL. At the other end of the table Enosis, in desperate need of a win, are at home to Aris.
The Anorthosis vs Apollon game can easily be described as the ‘grudge match’ of the season. In their first game in Limassol, back in October, the three points were awarded to Apollon by the FA’s judge after visiting fans invaded the pitch and exchanged blows with Apollon players without a ball being kicked. This is Anorthosis’ only ‘defeat’ thus far.
Increased security measures will be in place for the game with riot police entrusted with the task of maintaining ‘law and order’.
On the footballing side Anorthosis’ coach Paous will have to wait till the very last to see if Calvo and Martines can make the squad while the same applies for his counterpart, Pedro Emmanuel, with striker Fotis Papoulis.
AEK are up against Nea Salamina and they will be looking to avenge the only team to have defeated them in the first round.
Midfielders Tomas and Bolievic will be back in the starting eleven following their one match suspension but they will be without their regular central defender and captain Catala, who was sent off last week. Defender Ortiz is also suspended so coach Christiansen may have to throw in the deep end recent signing Mojsov who signed just a couple of days ago.
Nea Salamina will have Bemba, Adorno and Pavlou back in contention for a starting berth after missing out last weeks game against Paphos FC through injury. With a couple of games under his belt Tiago Gomes is also vying for a place in the starting line-up.
AEL, buoyed by their impressive win against AEK last week will be looking to inflict misery on another championship contender, APOEL.
No major worries for AEL’s Greek coach Chavos with recent signing Piech his only injury concern.
APOEL’s injury jinx continues as both recognized left backs, Antoniades and Alexandrou, pulled out of the last game with hamstring and groin injuries respectively. Coach Getsbaia will have to decide whether to move recent signing Milanov to the left side of defence and re-instate Mario Sergio on right.
Relegation threatened Enosis will hope that the return of Budimir, Bowman and van Ransbeeck from suspension will inspitre them to their fourth win of the season against Aris. The Limassol team though has been performing well this season and with a win against the Paralimni team they will all but end any relegation concerns.
Two more teams involved in the relegation dogfight Ermis and Paphos face difficult away ties to Omonia and Ethnikos with little chance of salvaging anything from their ties.
Saturday: Anorthosis vs Apollon (15.00), Ethnikos vs Pafos FC, Omonia vs Ermis (17.00), Paralimni vs Aris (19.00)
Sunday: AEL vs APOEL (15.00), Nea Salamina vs AEK (18.00)
Monday: Doxa vs Ayia Napa (19.00)