APOEL face tough test at Anorthosis

first_imgThe last games of the first round of the Cyprus championship playoffs will take place this weekend with leaders APOEL facing a difficult trip to Larnaca to face Anorthosis while AEK have a much easier task against Nea Salamina.In the relegation group Ethnikos Achnas need the three points against Paphos FC if they want to maintain their slim chances of first division survival while Ermis can move to the top if they defeat AEL in Limassol.APOEL travel to one of their least favourite hunting grounds to take on Anorthosis without the suspended duo of de Vincenti and Merkis. The absence of de Vincenti is made all the more important following the decision of top scorer Cavenaghis’ decision to end his Cyprus playing days last week.APOEL coach Ketsbaia, who has come under severe criticism from a section of his side’s supporters for his team selections, may opt for several changes in order to find the right blend to put his team back on the winning track and maintain their four-point cushion at the top.APOEL will need to improve considerably in the final third especially as Anorthosis’ newly-appointed coach Neophytos Larkou, is considered a good tactician with keeping a clean sheet his priority.Larkou got off to a winning start last week, and with the return from suspension and injury of a host of players (Pele, Laifis, Ndlovou, Calvo, Svechlen ) will be aiming to extend his winning start in front of the home fans.AEK are at home to (pointless) Nea Salamina and anything other than a win will be considered an upset even though the visitors are the only team not to have been beaten by Thomas Christiansen’s outfit this year.This was something Christiansen noted in his pre-game press conference reminding his players they only took one point off Salamina this year and “it’s high time we defeated them.”In the final top group game, in-form Apollon take on Omonia at the Tsirion with the home side favourites to win.Should they succeed they will open up a five-point gap to the Nicosia team, moving even closer to a much coveted European place.Trailing by seven points, Ethnikos Achnas are favourites for the drop and anything other than a win against the team just above them, Paphos FC, will almost definitely signal the end of their first division status.For their part, Paphos FC are a much improved side since Apostolos Makrides took over and should prove to be a tough opponent.Championship Group (all games on Saturday at 18.00)Anorthosis (55) vs APOEL (72)AEK (68) vs Nea Salamina (33)Apollon (57) vs Omonia (55)Relegation Group (all games on Sunday at 16.00)Ethnikos Achnas (25) vs Paphos FC (32)Doxa (33) vs Aris (34)AEL (39) vs Ermis (36)last_img read more