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Season review: Cyprus

Published: Thursday 27 May 2010, 13.00CET
AC Omonia ended seven long years in the wilderness by sealing their 20th league title ahead of fierce rivals and titleholders APOEL FC, while the Cyprus Cup went to Apollon Limassol FC.
by John Leonidou
from Nicosia
Season review: Cyprus
Omonia ended a seven-year wait for the title ©Omonia AC
Published: Thursday 27 May 2010, 13.00CET

Season review: Cyprus

AC Omonia ended seven long years in the wilderness by sealing their 20th league title ahead of fierce rivals and titleholders APOEL FC, while the Cyprus Cup went to Apollon Limassol FC.

AC Omonia claimed the title after a seven-year wait, but an impressive UEFA Champions League run proved considerable consolation for deposed champions APOEL FC, who surprisingly lost the Cyprus Cup final to Apollon Limassol FC. Anorthosis Famagusta FC once again endured a disappointing season, finishing third.

Champions: AC Omonia
Omonia had been lagging behind for most of the campaign after dropping points in the league and being knocked out of the cup at home by AEL Limassol FC, but the Nicosia club turned things around in the championship play-offs. Under Greek coach Panagiotis Lemonis they finished with a nine-point cushion over APOEL having remained undefeated in the play-offs. The title was sealed after a 1-0 win against APOEL, Efstathios Aloneftis scoring early in the first half.

Cup final: Apollon Limassol FC 2-1 APOEL FC
APOP/Kinyras Peyias FC's 2-0 defeat of AEL Limassol FC in last season's final was a big shock, and there was another surprise this time around as pre-match favourites APOEL came unstuck. Apollon – who replaced German coach Thomas von Heesen with Serbian Slobodan Krčmarević midway through the campaign – eliminated Anorthosis and AEL and took the lead 45 seconds into the final through Mustapha Bangura. Marcin Żewłakow replied for APOEL before the break, but a Giorgos Merkis header from Daniel Quinteros's 72nd-minute free-kick won the day.

European places*
AC Omonia – UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
Apollon Limassol FC – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
APOEL FC – UEFA Europa League second qualifying round
Anorthosis Famagusta FC – UEFA Europa League first qualifying round
*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Gastón Sangoy (Apollon Limassol FC)
Sangoy arrived in Cyprus as an unknown quantity but quickly became a fans' favourite at Apollon with his predatory instincts helping him score more than 50 goals in three seasons. Such form earned him the player of the year award as voted for by Cypriot coaches and a summer move to Sporting de Gijón.

One to watch: George Efrem (AC Omonia)
Once a youth-team player at Arsenal FC, the speedy attacking midfielder burst onto the stage with a series of solid performances. The 20-year-old made his Cyprus debut in September and, along with Apollon's Andreas Avraam, is considered one of the island's brightest young stars.

Surprise package: Apollon Limassol FC
Although not a small club, Apollon showed considerable endeavour to earn a top-four finish and win the cup, given that Omonia had invested while APOEL and Anorthosis reaped the benefits of UEFA Champions League experience. The Limassol side relied heavily on the dangerous attacking trio of Gastón Sangoy, Andreas Avraam and Junior Agogo.

Leading scorers: José Semedo, APOP/Kinyras Peyias FC; Joeano, Ermis Aradippou FC (22)

Relegated: Aris Limassol FC, APEP FC, Nea Salamis FC

Promoted: Olympiakos Nicosia FC, Alki FC, AEK Larnaca FC

Number: 20
The amount of titles Omonia have now won, level with APOEL in the all-time standings. Formed 22 years earlier than their Nicosia rivals, APOEL still lead in terms of Cyprus Cups, with 19 triumphs to Omonia's 12.

Quote
"Half of Cyprus will be celebrating with us. This title is dedicated to everyone involved at the club from the players to the doctors and even the people who clean our boots. Without them we wouldn't be where we are."
Captain Elias Charalambous spreads the love after Omonia clinch the championship

Last updated: 01/06/10 18.57CET

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