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Leaders face each other in big weekend in Cyprus

Leaders AEK, who travel to Nicosia to face Omonia, have won nine and drawn one of their first ten matches

The top four teams in the Cyprus football championship feature in the top two weekend games as leaders AEK travel to Nicosia to face fourth-placed Omonia, while third-placed AEL entertain Apoel at the Tsirion stadium in Limassol.

There is another crucial game taking place this weekend, but at the other end of the table, where bottom side Anagennisi Dheryneias face the team just above them, Aris, in a game that may prove crucial in their battle for first division survival.

The games are taking place after Uefa this week threatened clubs with exclusion from European competitions, prompting the Cyprus Football Association to take the decision to impose tougher penalties for suspected match-fixing on the island.

AEK, who along with Apoel remain unbeaten after ten games, travel to Nicosia for their toughest game until the end of the regular season. Should they leave Nicosia with the three points they will almost surely be near the top of the table when the playoffs begin.

AEK coach Imanol Idiakez has proven to be a shrewd tactician and knows that going forward, his skillful attackers will find gaps against Omonia’s porous defence, especially as the home team will be without aggressive tackler Florescu and towering central defender Orsulic.

However he will have to find a way to stop Omonia’s lethal strikeforce with the front three of Matt Derbyshire, Cillian Sheridan and speedy winger Christophi in fine form. The first two have scored 14 of their team’s 20 goals so far.

They will surely prove a handful for AEK’s experienced but cumbersome backline.

In Limassol, AEL will have the chance to close to within two points of Apoel should they manage to inflict a first league defeat on the reigning champions.
Their coach Pambos Christodoulou has hyped up his players for this crucial match, despite labelling Apoel as favourites due to their experience and depth in quality.

Christodoulou is waiting anxiously to see if his two regular central defenders, captain Dossa Junior and Valentinos Shellis, will pass a late fitness test with both having a 50-50 chance of being fit.

Apoel have injury concerns of their own with Bertoglio and Merkis both ruled out through injury.

Their coach Thomas Chrisitansen will probably opt for Bressan to replace Bertoglio with Astiz pairing up with Carlao in the centre of their defence. The Dane may even opt for a more attacking formation with Igor de Camargo joining Sotiriou in attack with Bressan dropping to the bench.

Anagennisi, with just a point so far, need the three points against Aris if they are to have any chance of keeping their first division survival hopes alive.
Aris have been a major disappointment so far this season and like their fellow strugglers need to start picking up points before it is too late. It will be the first game in charge for Aris’ Belgian coach Frederick Vanderbiest.

Elsewhere, Apollon face a tricky away game to Karmiotissa while another team struggling at the wrong end of the table, Doxa Katokopias, face much improved Nea Salamina.

Ermis Aradippou open the weekend with a home tie against AEZ Zakakiou while the last game of round eleven takes place on Monday between Ethnikos Achnas and Anorthosis.

Saturday: Ermis Aradippou vs AEZ (16.00), AEL vs Apoel (19.00)

Sunday: Omonia vs AEK & Anagennisi vs Aris @16.00, Doxa vs Nea Salamina (17.00), Karmiotissa vs Apollon (18.00)

Monday: Ethnikos Achnas vs Anorthosis (19.00)

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