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Season review: Cyprus

Published: Tuesday 10 June 2014, 7.54CET
In fifth when Giorgos Donis took over as coach in October, APOEL FC hit their stride to win the cup and, on the final day, the league title – their first domestic double since 1996.
by John Leonidou
from Nicosia
Season review: Cyprus
APOEL have won the league in three of the last four seasons ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Tuesday 10 June 2014, 7.54CET

Season review: Cyprus

In fifth when Giorgos Donis took over as coach in October, APOEL FC hit their stride to win the cup and, on the final day, the league title – their first domestic double since 1996.

APOEL FC mounted a late surge to crown one of the finest seasons in their history. Having won the Cypriot Cup by defeating Ermis Aradippou FC 2-0 in the final, Giorgos Donis' side secured the club's first domestic double since 1996.

Champions: APOEL FC
By Christmas, few could have predicted APOEL successfully defending the title for the first time since 1949, let alone doing the double. The Nicosia outfit endured a bumpy time when Ivan Jovanović – the man who guided them to four league titles and two UEFA Champions League group stage appearances, the second of which culimated in a historic run to the quarter-finals in 2011/12 – was succeeded by Paulo Sérgio in May 2013.

After a run of poor results at home and in Europe, he in turn was replaced in October by former PAOK FC and AEK Athens FC coach Donis, who was tasked with restoring APOEL, then languishing in fifth, to the First Division summit. He succeeded in doing so, APOEL clinching the title from under the noses of AEL Limassol FC. "This is the result of a massive effort," said Donis. "My players have been working very hard and deserve big congratulations."

Cup final: Ermis Aradippou FC 0-2 APOEL FC
First-half goals from playmaker Tomás De Vincenti and Sheridan were enough to see off Ermis, the surprise package of the campaign. "This has been a very successful year," said APOEL winger Nektarios Alexandrou. "This team can improve even more next year."

European places*
APOEL FC – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
AEL Limassol FC – UEFA Champions League third qualifying round
Apollon Limassol FC – UEFA Europa League play-offs
Ermis Aradippou FC – UEFA Europa League third qualifying round
AC Omonia – UEFA Europa League second qualifying roun

* Subject to final confirmation by UEFA

Player of the year: Monteiro (AEL Limassol FC)
Champions in 2011/12, AEL came within a whisker of reclaiming the title from APOEL only to falter at the last. Their run was largely down to the attacking verve and goals of 25-year-old Portuguese winger Monteiro. The former FC Porto academy product was voted player of the year by the Cyprus Football Association (CFA/KOP) and finished joint top scorer with 18 league goals.

One to watch: Antreas Makris (Anorthosis Famagusta FC)
Signed from second-division AEP Paphos FC in the summer of 2013, the teenager was promoted from Anorthosis's Under-21 side to the senior squad by his 18th birthday in November. The attacking midfielder did not let the opportunity go begging. Despite his side struggling towards the end of the season, Makris continued to impress, scoring three times and also helping Cyprus reach the elite round of the UEFA European Under-19 Championship. He was later presented with the young player of the year award by the CFA.

Surprise package: Ermis Aradippou FC
Ermis chairman Loucas Fanieros took a risk when he appointed inexperienced coach Nicos Panagiotou, but the gamble paid off as the former Cyprus goalkeeper led a well-drilled side to their highest-ever finish in the top division, fourth, and into the cup final for the first time.

Leading scorers: Marco Tagbajumi, Ermis Aradippou FC; Gaston Sangoy, Apollon Limassol FC; Monteiro, AEL Limassol FC (18)

Relegated: Alki Larnaca FC, Enosis Neon Paralimni FC, Aris Limassol FC, AEK Kouklia FC

Promoted: Ayia Napa FC, Othellos Athienou FC

Number: 65
The number of years APOEL, Cyprus's most decorated club, had to wait to win back-to-back league championships.

Quote
"We are all a little bit crazy! We really wanted to be in the final. We scored four times against a team that doesn't concede easily and that says something about our achievement."
Ermis forward Andreas Papathanasiou after his two goals helped his side eliminate holders Apollon and progress to their first cup final

Last updated: 10/06/14 7.54CET

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