Coronavirus on the one hand, and playoffs in both the Champions and Europa Leagues on the other, have decimated round five of the Cyprus football championship, with just three of the scheduled seven games going ahead.
Apollon v Omonia and Apoel against Doxa Katokopias have been postponed for a later date due to the involvement of Omonia and Apoel in the playoffs of the two European competitions.
Two other games, those between Nea Salamina and Ermis Aradippou and Ethnikos against Anorthosis have been called off as 20 players from each of the two home sides, Nea Salamina and Ethnikos Achnas have tested positive for Covid-19. According to the Cyprus Football Association’s protocol a game is postponed if more than four players from a club test positive for the virus.
In a latest twist, an Omonia player also tested positive upon his return from Greece where his side played against Olympiakos in the Champions League playoffs last Wednesday. Sixty players and officials of Omonia have been currently quarantined.
From the three games that are set to go ahead (coronavirus permitting), the clash between AEK Larnaca and AEL is by far the most intriguing.
However this game has also been partly affected by the pandemic as it will be played behind closed doors following a decision on Friday by the health ministry due to the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the Larnaca district.
The game at the Arena stadium will be the first one for AEK’s new coach Joan Carillo who took over the reins from David Caneda this past week.
“I have a lot work to do but I am happy with my squad”, he said in his first public appearance before the AEL game.
“We have a tough game ahead against a very physical and well-organized side,” he concluded.
AEL come into game at the back of a convincing win against Karmiotissa but their coach Ducan Kerkez will need to shuffle his cards as four players, Euller, Torres, Majdevac and more recently Ghazaryan have been ruled out through injury, while it is touch and go if Avraam will pass a late fitness test.
In the other round five game on Monday, Olympiakos take on Pafos FC at the Makareion stadium.
Olympiakos, with two wins in the league so far, stand four points above the Pafos team who are still without a win and have largely disappointed so far despite quality additions to their squad over the summer.
Friday: Karmiotissa 2-1 E.N Paralimni
Saturday: AEK v AEL (20.30)
Monday: Olympiakos v Pafos FC (19.00)