Cyprus Mail
Champions League

Apoel seek to overturn Champions league deficit

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Apoel have their backs against the wall as they try to overturn a 3-1 deficit against Lithuanian champions FK Suduva at the GSP stadium in Nicosia on Tuesday evening in the second leg of their Champions League first qualifying round tie.

The Cyprus champions are no strangers to adversity as they have a tendency of living on the edge in most of their early qualifying games.
Last year they scraped past footballing minnows F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg while in the third qualifying round against FC Viitorul of Romania they went through thanks to three goals in added time.

Their Lithuanian opponents are no footballing giants but Apoel showed huge defensive frailties in the first leg, conceding three goals in a disastrous 10-minute spell and they will need to improve in that department if they are to stand a chance of progressing to the second round.

Their manager Bruno Baltazar is certain to make a number of changes, two of them enforced, as midfielder Tomas de Vincenti and Brazilian defender Caju picked up injuries in that game.

Cypriot defender Nicolas Ioannou should replace Caju at left-back while experienced defender Carlao is expected to start the game at the expense of Giorgos Merkis who had a torrid first game.

Fit again Ghayas Zahid will certainly start the game in midfield replacing de Vincenti, while at least two more places are up for grabs.
Mickael Pote is pushing hard to lead the attack with Guilherme Dellatorre dropping to the substitute’s bench while there is also a question mark over who will be the last line of defence.

Goalkeeper Boy Waterman came under fierce criticism following last week’s game and Rafael Romo is waiting in the wings to grab the chance to establish himself as first-choice goalkeeper if he is finally given the nod.

The Lithuanians arrived in Cyprus on Tuesday morning in confident mood but they are wary of Apoel’s true potential, especially in front of their vociferous supporters, expected to surpass the 10,000 mark.

They will also face very high temperatures, even though the game does not kick-off until 8pm.

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