Apollon are going for a hat-trick of Cyprus Cup titles when they take on AEK at the GSP stadium in Nicosia on Wednesday evening.
The cup is seen as a consolation prize for both clubs, who had set their sights on the championship at the beginning of the season but were unable to knock Apoel off the top for yet another season.
There is bad blood between the two finalists and this was evident during the pre-match press conference with the representatives of the two sides hardly exchanging a word.
Limassol side Apollon feel that they were wronged as Apoel fielded a weakened side in the cup semi-finals when they met AEK, with AEK reciprocating in the same fashion in the crucial league game between the two sides which Apoel won to ultimately help them retain their title.
Apollon will be looking to continue their remarkable cup run and clinch their third consecutive triumph so that their impressive season rewards them with some silverware.
Club president Nikos Kirzis said that everyone at the club was bitterly disappointed in the manner in which they lost the championship, saying “winning the cup is the least that this team deserves after such a season.”
Both manager Sofronis Avgousti and captain Fotis Papoulis reiterated what their president said and added that they want their fans urging them on throughout the 90 minutes.
Avgousti has no injury concerns but defender Jander, a key player for Apollon throughout the season, is not expected to make the squad as it is rumoured he has been disqualified due to disciplinary reasons.
The last time AEK won the cup was back in 2004 when they defeated AEL 2-1 and the trophy is the only one in their cabinet since their formation in 1994.
“Our participation in the final is not enough,” said AEK president Andros Karapatakis. “We have gone close in the league on a number of occasions and we shall feel vindicated only if we lift the cup.”
It will be a fitting farewell for two very important figures in the AEK family, their technical director Xavi Roca, who with his football acumen managed to turn AEK into one of the best sides in Cyprus, and their 35-year-old defender Ander Murillo who decided that the final will be his last game before retirement. Murillo though will stay on at AEK to replace Roca as technical director.
AEK manager Imanol Idiakez is sweating on the fitness of striking powerhouse Florian Taulemmeuse who has yet to hit top form since returning from a lengthy injury.
Almost 15,000 fans are expected to attend the final which kicks-off at 18.30 and will be officiated by up and coming Cypriot referee Loucas Sotiriou.
ROAD TO THE FINAL:
R2 – Othellos Athienou 0-1 & 2-0
QF – Anorthosis 1-1 & 2-1
SF – Pafos FC 4-0 & 4-1
R2 – Aris 4-0 & 2-1
QF – Paeek 7-0 & 4-1
SF – Apoel 2-0 & 2-1