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APOEL ready for big night in Prague

APOEL face their biggest game of the season on Wednesday night as they prepare to protect a 2-0 aggregate lead against Champions League playoff opponents Slavia Prague in the Czech capital.

Giorgos Donis’ APOEL need to avoid a defeat by two goals or more and can even advance with a two-goal deficit, provided they also score on Wednesday night. Kick-off is at 9.45pm.

Goals from Igor de Camargo and Stathis Aloneftis put APOEL in the driving seat in the tie last week but the Czech champions had put the Nicosia club under pressure for most of the match with keeper Boy Waterman coming to his side’s rescue on a number of occasions.

“If we go into this game simply to protect our lead, then we will run into problems,” warned Greek boss Donis – who returned last month for a second spell with the Nicosia club.

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“We need to try and win this game. That is the only way that we can achieve our objective – which is of course to reach the group stages of the Champions League.”

Donis is only missing the injured Nicholas Ioannou while new signing Lucas Souza is not yet match fit.

APOEL are looking to reach the group stages of the Champions League proper for a fourth time. The last time they reached the group stages was with Donis in 2014. In 2012, APOEL made history for Cypriot football after reaching the quarter-finals of the competition.

Should APOEL not advance on Wednesday night in Prague, then they will automatically be placed in the group stages of the Europa League.

Last season, APOEL topped their Europa League group before then going on to reach the Last 16.

Fellow Cypriot clubs Apollon Limassol and AEK Larnaca will be in Europa League playoff action on Thursday.

The Limassol club are in Denmark protecting a 3-2 aggregate lead against Midtjylland while Imanol Idiakez’s AEK have a tougher job at the AEK Arena where they will need to overturn a 3-1 defeat inflicted in the first leg by Viktoria Plzen last week.

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