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Season review: Cyprus

Published: Thursday 30 May 2013, 11.00CET
APOEL FC extended their reign as Cypriot football's dominant force by claiming a 22nd title, while Apollon Limassol FC lifted the Cypriot Cup at the expense of AEL Limassol FC.
by John Leonidou
from Nicosia
Season review: Cyprus
Ivan Jovanović signed off as APOEL coach in style ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 30 May 2013, 11.00CET

Season review: Cyprus

APOEL FC extended their reign as Cypriot football's dominant force by claiming a 22nd title, while Apollon Limassol FC lifted the Cypriot Cup at the expense of AEL Limassol FC.

APOEL FC overcame the disappointment of an early European exit and the loss of several key players to emerge as champions of Cyprus for a record 22nd time.

Champions: APOEL FC
UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists in 2011/12, APOEL's European campaign this time was over as early as August after a 4-2 aggregate defeat by Neftçi PFK in the UEFA Europa League play-offs. Given the Nicosia club were in the midst of a transitional period with the loss of star names including Aílton, Ivan Tričkovski and Paulo Jorge, the result was hardly surprising.

After a sluggish start to the season, however, APOEL capitalised on closest rivals Anorthosis Famagusta FC's late dip in form and went into the end-of-term play-offs six points clear at the summit. Ivan Jovanović's men then held their nerve and were crowned champions with two games to spare when Anorthosis succumbed 4-0 at AC Omonia.

Cup final: Apollon Limassol FC 2-1 AEL Limassol FC (aet)
With both sides falling short of a top-four finish, the remaining UEFA Europa League slot was decided by the outcome of the Cypriot Cup. AEL had triumphed 1-0 when the teams last met in a major final back in 1987, yet this night belonged to Apollon. Christakis Christoforou's charges squandered a litany of chances in normal time and their dreams were hanging by a thread when AEL's Vouho missed from the spot. Apollon seized the initiative from then on, though, and goals from Horacio Cardozo and Romeo Surdu proved sufficient despite Vouho's consolation.

European places*
APOEL FC – UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round
Apollon Limassol FC – UEFA Europa League, third qualifying round
Anorthosis Famagusta FC – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round
AC Omonia – UEFA Europa League, second qualifying round

*Subject to final confirmation from UEFA

Player of the year: Demetris Christofi (AC Omonia)
Omonia endured a disappointing campaign by their standards and it was only a late charge midway through the season – galvanized largely by the arrival of manager Toni Savevski and the attacking exploits of forward Christofi – that brought a third-place finish and a UEFA Europa League berth. The 24-year-old Cypriot international weighed in with eight goals as Omonia put together an impressive sequence of results that included eye-catching defeats of APOEL and Anorthosis.

One to watch: Alex Konstantinou (Apollon Limassol FC)
Prior to the season, the 21-year-old was something of an unknown quantity but fans soon sat up and took notice as the winger exhibited an intoxicating blend of incisive dribbling and technical class. Konstantinou emerged through the youth system at Northampton Town FC and after plying his trade in the depths of English football, moved to the country in which his father once flourished. The decision proved inspired, as Konstantinou starred in Apollon's cup triumph before earning a maiden call-up to the Cyprus national team.

Surprise package: Doxa Katokopia FC
A club of modest means, Doxa have continued to punch above their weight and repeated the trick with a respectable seventh-place finish. Loukas Hadjiloukas's side also made waves across the internet when their Portuguese skipper Ricardo Fernandes – formerly of FC Porto, Sporting Clube de Portugal and FC Metalurh Donetsk – lobbed the goalkeeper with an outrageous scorpion kick in a 2-2 draw with Alki Larnaca FC.

Leading scorer: Bernardo Vasconcelos, Alki Larnaca FC (18)

Relegated: AEP Paphos FC, Ayia Napa FC, Olympiakos Nicosia FC

Promoted: Aris Limassol FC, AEK Kouklion FC, Ermis Aradippou FC

Number: 24
Residents of Limassol had to wait 24 years to witness a Cypriot Cup final contested between two teams from their own town. The previous all-Limassol decider, involving AEL and Aris, ended with AEL prevailing 3-2 in extra time.

Quote
"Don't forget, when I first came here, I was a coach still trying to discover myself. And now look what we have achieved in five years!"
Ivan Jovanović reflects on an impressive reign as APOEL coach in his final press conference

Last updated: 30/05/13 13.23CET

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