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Managers under pressure in Cyprus championship

Omonia boss John Carver, whose team and technical staff were booed off the pitch last week, is under intense pressure

THREE very important and too close to call fixtures will take place this weekend in the Cyprus football championship.

First up is the visit of third-placed AEL to the Antonis Papadopoulos on Saturday to face Anorthosis, while the following day Apollon are at home to Omonia and leaders AEK face a tricky away tie at Nea Salamina.

Two first division coaches, Neagoe and Doncic, up until recently of Nea Salamina and Ethnikos Achnas respectively, have already been shown the door by their clubs and the fate of three more will be on the line this weekend as well.

After just a couple of games Apollon were hailed as the team to knock champions Apoel off their perch but two defeats in the last couple of games have put immense pressure on their coach Pedro Emmanuel whose position is now under threat.

The same can be said of his counterpart, Omonia’s John Carver, whose team and technical staff were booed off the pitch last week and this despite coming back from behind twice and winning the game against Karmiotissa.

Carver will not even be in the Omonia dugout on Sunday as he was banned for one game by the Cyprus FA for storming out of last week’s post-game press conference before it had finished, clearly annoyed and upset with the treatment he received during and at the end of the game by Omonia fans.

The third under-fire coach is Antonio Puche of Anorthosis who has seen his team slip into seventh-place following their 4-1 drubbing at the hands of AEK last week.

His team take on one of the most improved sides this year, third placed AEL, who under the stewardship of old favourite Pambos Christdoulou, have regained the tenacity and will to win they showed during their championship winning season of 2012.

The managerial change seems to have helped Nea Salamina who managed to score their first goals and secured their first season win in new coach Staikos Vergetis’ first game in charge against Zakaki.

On Sunday though his team will face a much tougher challenge as they come up against leaders AEK who have yet to drop a point this season.
Under new coach Imanol Idiakez, AEK, have continued playing attractive free-flowing football but they have added a bit of steel to their play, something that was missing last year.

Second-placed Apoel, buoyed by their triumphant win over Greek champions Olympiacos in the Europa League on Thursday, have a seemingly easy home tie against Doxa.

However the Champions tend to disappoint on home ground following European encounters and the young Doxa side of Loucas Hadjiloucas will be looking to take advantage of this.

The bottom two sides, Ethnikos Achnas and Anagennisi Dheryneia are embroiled in an early season six-pointer, while high-flying Ermis Aradippou travel to the Zenon stadium to face first division newcomers Karmiotissa.

In the weekend’s opening game Aris are at home to AEZ Zakakiou.

Saturday: Aris vs Zakaki (18.00), Ethnikos Achnas vs Anagennis (19.00), Anorthosis vs Apollon (20.00)
Sunday: Karmiotissa vs Ermis (18.00), Apollon vs Omonia (19.00), Apoel vs Doxa and Nea Salamina vs AEK (20.00)

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