AGONA Profile: AEL Limassol, Cyprus' dangerous Cup winners
Last week, Aris were drawn against AEL Limassol in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round. The AGONA profile takes a closer look at last year’s dangerous Cypriot Cup winners.
Aris finished in fifth place in last year’s Super League, and earned a ticket to UEFA Europa League qualifying with their journey beginning in the second round. The draw in Nyon, Switzerland pitted them against Cypriot side AEL Limassol.
This is Aris’ first time in European play since the 2010-2011 season. They qualified for the UEFA Europa League that season, and even emerged from a difficult group, before losing to Manchester City in the round of 32.
Aris have never faced Cypriot opposition in European play before, but they will have to be wary, as Cypriot sides have surprised Greek clubs before. AEL Limassol are one of the oldest clubs in Cyprus, established in 1930. Their manager is a Bosnian, 43-year-old Dusan Kerkez.
This past season, AEL finished fourth in the Cypriot First Division, but enter in this round because they won the Cyprus Cup, their first such triumph in exactly 30 years.
AEL last played in Europe two seasons ago, and managed to advance past a couple of qualifying rounds before losing in the third qualifying round to Austria Wien. They have qualified for the Europa League group stages before, in the 2012-2013 season.
They were last crowned Cypriot champions in 2012, a surprise achievement under then-manager Pambos Christodoulou. They are still the most recent Cypriot team not named APOEL to win the Cypriot championship.
Full Name: Athlitiki Enosi Lemesou
Stadium: *Tsirion Stadio (since 1975, capacity 13,331)
*It is possible, but yet to be confirmed, that AEL will choose to stage their European home games at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, as UEFA sometimes deems the Tsirion Stadio unfit for European play. This would preclude them from hosting European matches in Limassol.
Chairman: Andreas Sofocleous
Manager: Dusan Kerkez (BIH)
HONORS: 6 Cypriot championships (1941, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1968, 2012); 7 Cypriot Cups (1939, 1940, 1948, 1985, 1987, 1989, 2019)
Dusan Kerkez, 43, has been the manager for AEL Limassol since March 2018. Prior to taking this job, Kerkez was already employed by AEL, coaching their U19 team. That’s not his only history with AEL, having played for the Limassol side from 2007-2011.
He began his playing career in Serbia with Partizan in 1997, but never appeared in a match for them. He toiled as a midfielder in the lower divisions of the Serbian system until 2002, when he returned to his native Bosnia-Herzegovina to play for Leotar Trebinje (2002-2004) and later for Zrinjski Mostar (2004-2005). He then moved to Croatia to play for Rijeka (2005-2007), before his aforementioned move to Cyprus. After his time with AEL from 2007-2011, he remained in Limassol with Aris Limassol from 2011 until his retirement in 2014.
He also earned four international caps for the Bosnian national team, the first coming in 2004, and the last coming in 2006. His managerial career is still in its infancy, with this past season being his only full season in charge, but with the Cup victory, he’s off to an impressive start.
AEL feature a lineup of several Cypriot internationals, such as Andreas Avraam, Charis Kyriakou, Christos Wheeler, and the Portuguese born Dosa Junior. In goal, the workload was split virtually evenly between Polish keeper Patryk Procek and Cape Verde international Vozinha, and Vozinha played most of the late season matches.
Their real danger man, however, is Spanish striker Ruben Jurado, who scored 15 goals this past season, behind only Adam Nemec in the Cypriot First Division. Other notable players include Andre Teixeira and Nils Teixeira (no relation to each other).