The weekend serves up several intriguing ties for round 6 of the football championship but the clash between champions Apoel and leaders AEL is the pick of the bunch. Elsewhere Nea Salamina take on Omonia while the two ‘Europeans’, Apollon and AEK, have seemingly easy games against Ermis Aradippou and Doxa Katokopias respectively.
The final weekend game is between Enosis Neon Paralimniou and Anorthosis while the last game of the round will take place on Monday between the two bottom teams, Pafos FC and Alki.
AEL have not defeated Apoel in Nicosia for almost six years and despite the difficulties his players will face, coach Dušan Kerkez believes that his side are ready to snatch the three points from the champions and extend their perfect start to the season for yet another week.
Even though his first choice goalkeeper Vozinia will sit this game out as well, his replacement Patryk Procek, has covered for him admirably conceding just one goal in the three games he has played so far.
Central defender Lafrance was expected to miss the game but has been passed fit to start while striker Hurado has managed to shake off his niggling injury.
Paolo Tramezzani will be in charge of Apoel for the first time following his recent appointment but his preparation for the game has been hampered by the absence of many players on international duty till last Wednesday, while injuries to Nsoue, Milanov and de Vincenti have deprived him of key and experienced players.
However he would have been delighted to see Apoel’s only bright spot so far this season, the Jordanian Musa Al Taamari, get through his international commitments unscathed while a question mark remains on the match fitness of Giorgos Efraim.
Nea Salamina entertain Omonia at the Ammochostos stadium in what is expected to be an tight game with any result possible.
Salamina’s coach Savvas Poursaitides has done a remarkable job since taking over last season and his team is currently in sixth place, a point above Omonia.
Omonia will go to this game on the back of two defeats and dark clouds are already circling over their coach Juan Carlos Oliva.
There have been quite a few grumbling amongst the Omonia faithful, especially for his team selections and a loss against Salamina may signal the end of his short tenure at the Nicosia team.
Apollon, who will have one eye on their tough away Europa League clash against Eintract Frankfurt, should still be too strong for Ermis Aradippou.
Their coach Sofronis Avgousti will most certainly rest a few players especially those who were on international duty, like Fotis Papoulis, Giorgos Vassiliou and Skembri. Sardinero, who just returned from injury, is also expected to be left out of the starting eleven.
Ermis’ coach Costas Kaiafas played up his team’s prospects for the game though saying that ‘we respect Apollon, but we are ready to fight and win the three points.’
The second Cyprus team still competing in Europe, AEK, are at home to the pleasant surprise of the season so far, third placed Doxa Katokopias.
Even though the home side will be favourite to take the three points, Doxa have players in their ranks that can win any game. In Sadik and Asamoah they have players that can unlock the meanest of defences while the former is also the league’s top scorer with 8 goals.
Another manager who is making his debut this weekend is Jurgen Streppel who replaced Rony Levy at Anorthosis.
Streppel will see his side take on Enosis in Paralimni, a happy hunting ground for the Famagusta team. Funnily enough Paralimni are now coached by Andre Paous, a former Anorthosis head, who left the team in 2016 in acrimonious circumstances.
Despite Anorthosis’ recent poor form they should be able to snatch the three points.
Saturday: Enosis v Anorthosis (17.00), Apollon v Ermis (18.00), AEK v Doxa (19.00)
Sunday: Nea Salamina v Omonia (17.00), Apoel v AEL (19.00)
Monday: Pafos FC v Alki (19.00)