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APOEL and Apollon await big final

Apollon Limassol will be looking to dampen the mood at recently-crowned champions APOEL next week by first crashing their title celebrations on Saturday and then beating them in the Cyprus Coca-Cola Cup final on Wednesday.

Thomas Christiansen’s men defeated derby rivals Omonia 3-1 last weekend to claim a record 26th league title and will now be seeking to clinch a famous double by beating Sofronis Avgoustis’ Apollon in the Cup final on Wednesday.

Omonia’s defeat also meant that they will miss out on European football for the first time in 15 years, with APOEL, AEK Larnaca, Apollon and AEL set to represent Cyprus in the UEFA competitions this summer.

The two sides will first meet in the final game of the season at the GSP Stadium – where the Cup final is also being held – in a game which will see APOEL parade their record-equalling fifth consecutive league crown.

APOEL have been Cyprus’ dominant force in football since 2009 – either side of a league title win by AEL in 2012 – with the Nicosia club having won an array of domestic trophies but having also reached the Champions League proper four times and the Europa League three times.

The Cypriot champions have also made headlines by reaching the Champions League quarter-finals in 2012 and then reaching the Europa League Last 16 this season.

“The secret of our success has been the collective effort,” said APOEL captain Nektarios Alexandrou in a recent interview Active Radio.

“The right foundations were laid down at the club and the team knows how to respond and get itself out of tough situations. We also never try to find excuses when things don’t go well. We, instead, try to fix those wrongs, so that we can win trophies.”
Despite not winning the league title in 2005, Apollon have also been one of the strongest title contenders in the last few years and are the current Cup holders after beating Omonia 1-0 in last season’s final.

Both sides have been hit by injuries this season with APOEL losing George Efrem, Vinicius, Giorgos Merkis, Stathis Aloneftis and Nicholas Ioannou to lengthy injuries, while Apollon had lost the services of Chambos Kyriakou, Dudu, Tiago Gomes and Costas Makrides to long injuries.

The Limassol club had also been hampered by the sudden illnesses of Abraham Gneki-Guie and Miguel Bedoya who have still to return to training.

Both clubs will receive around 8,000 tickets each, with ticket prices being set at €20 each.

Wednesday’s Cup final will take place at the GSP Stadium and will kick-off at 6.30pm. The game will be shown live on Sigma.

Elsewhere, there was heartbreak for Karmiotissa and joy for Doxa Katokopia last weekend.

Liasos Louca’s Karmiotissa succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Nea Salamina to suffer relegation, while Loucas Hadjiloucas’ Doxa pulled off yet another great escape this season after thrashing Ethnikos Achnas 4-0 away to avoid the drop.

AEZ and Anagennises had suffered automatic relegation to the second division during the normal season before it entered the end-of-season playoffs.

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