Anorthosis Famagusta FC made Cypriot history as they became the island's first UEFA Champions League group stage contenders this season, but when they meet league leaders APOEL FC on Sunday their domestic title will be on the line.
Temuri Ketsbaia's side cantered to success in the 2007/08 Division A campaign before embarking on their fantastic voyage into Europe, but the 2008/09 Cypriot season is proving an extremely competitive one. With two games to go before the end-of-term play-offs, Anorthosis are third, two points adrift of AC Omonia and two more behind APOEL.
'Like a final'
The play-offs will see the top four teams face each other two more times to decide the final standings, and Anorthosis striker Lukasz Sosin knows how important a win against APOEL could be. "It's a tough one but I think it will be an even harder game for APOEL," he said. "This match is like a final for us. We need to reduce the deficit before entering into the play-offs."
Anorthosis have not had an easy time at home since they reached the UEFA Champions League group stage by eliminating Olympiacos CFP in the third qualifying round. Their Group B campaign was somewhat overshadowed by a boardroom dispute which prompted chairman Andreas Pantelis to step down, with former Cyprus Football Association general secretary Chris Georgiades taking his place.
Meanwhile on the pitch, Ketsbaia's men bowed out in the second round of the Cypriot Cup with a shock aggregate defeat by Apollon Limassol FC and then suffered their first home league reverse in two years, losing 2-1 to Omonia on 25 January. However, the dust seems to have settled, and even the 31-year-old Sosin appears to have got his goalscoring mojo working again.
'The important game'
Last season's 16-goal top scorer, Sosin has struggled for form this term, yet hit four in Anorthosis' last outing – a 6-1 triumph at bottom club Atromitos Yeroskipou – to take his tally to ten. "Obviously, I am happy to have scored four and won the game," he said. "You always feel better when you score. I hope to score more against APOEL because that is the important game."
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