The Cypriot teams’ opponents in the Champions/Europa League
The four Cypriot teams that will play in next year’s UEFA Champions (APOEL) and Europa League (AEK, Apollon, AEL) found out their opponents in the first and second qualifying rounds of the respective competitions.
APOEL - F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg)
The Cypriot champions will start this year’s European campaign in Luxemburg against the local champions Dudelange. The first game will take place on July 11/12 at the GSP stadium in Nicosia and the rematch will be played one week later at the Stade Jos Nosbaum. On paper, the Galazokitrini should not have much trouble if they play according to their quality, however they must be careful as these matches will be their first under new coach Been. The Luxembourg side shocked Austrian giants Salzburg in 2012/13 leaving them out on away goals after a 4-4 draw on aggregate.
Apollon Limassol - Zaria Balti (Moldova)/FK Sarajevo (Bosnia)
The Cypriot Cup holders, Apollon Limassol, will start from the UEFA Europa League 2nd qualifying round and will await the winner of Zaria Balti (Moldova)/FK Sarajevo (Bosnia) from the 1st qualifying round. The possible opponents from Sarajevo will start lots of discussion as the Bosnians are the favourites to advance. With the intense game between Greece and Bosnia in Zenica just a few weeks ago, along with the upcoming game between Cyprus and Bosnia in Nicosia, things could get interesting at the club level. Moreover, Sarajevo’s owner is the controversial Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, who also owns Cardiff City FC and is a co-owner of Los Angeles FC that will join the MLS next year. Things do not end there as Turkish Airlines is the major sponsor of the team and it will be interesting if the matches are surrounded by political matters. The first game will take place on July 13th in Cyprus and the return leg will be played on the road on July 20th.
AEK Larnacas - Lincoln (Gibraltar)
AEK Larnaka were handed an easy draw in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round as they will visit tiny Gibraltar to face the local team Lincoln with the games set to take place on June 29th (home) and July 6th. (away). If AEK advance, they will face the winner of Cork City FC (Ireland) and Levadia Tallinn (Estonia) in the second qualifying round. The two teams are of much better quality when compared to Lincoln, but AEK will be the heavy favorites to proceed to the 3rd round.
AEL Limassol Vs St. Josephs (Gibraltar)
Cyprus’s other representative, AEL Limassol, will also travel to Gibraltar and matchup against St. Josephs in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round. The games will take place on June 29th (home) and July 6th (away). Like AEK, the Limassol side are expected to proceed to the 2nd qualifying round where they will play the winner of Rangers (Scotland) and Progres Niederkorn (Luxembourg). The Scottish giants are determined to make a big comeback to the European stage after financial difficulties led them to the lower divisions in Scotland. They finished 3rd in last year’s Scottish championship and are sure to be a tough test for the Cypriot side if the two teams advance from the first round.