The meteoric rise of APOP Kinyras/Peyia FC shows no signs of abating with the team on the verge of reaching the Cypriot Cup final and the prospect of European football next season.
Formed just six years ago, following the merger of two Paphos lower-league clubs – APOP Peyias FC and Kinyras Empas FC – APOP Kinyras/Peyia shot up from the third division to the top tier in just two seasons. The dramatic ascent can be partly attributed to the development of Peyia, which has become a popular destination for retiring British expatriates in recent years – the town has flourished and the local football team along with it. Some astute decisions have helped too. "It's not really a case of money," said vice-chairman Andros Tsokkas. "We are very careful with spending because we still don't have the budgets of other big teams on the island."
Now in their second successive season in Division A having gone straight back down when they were first promoted, APOP were not expected to challenge for honours this term and the appointment of little known coach Georgios Polyviou midway through the campaign did nothing to dispel that consensus. However, his side have gone from strength to strength and followed up their shock 3-0 Cypriot Cup quarter-final win against AC Omonia with an equally remarkable 2-0 victory over champions elect APOEL FC in the first leg of their last-four tie. "'Congratulations' is too small a word to say to my players," Polyviou said after the game. "We took a gamble, changed some things and it paid off. We worked really hard ahead of this game and we have a good advantage now. My players have done brilliantly all season and we are not finished yet."
Despite their short history, APOP have managed to lure some famous names to join the club in the past, most notably former Polish international striker Emmanuel Olisadebe and Greek forward Alexandros Alexandrou. Their cosmopolitan squad currently includes four Brazilians, three each from Greece and Portugal, two from the Ivory Coast, a Belgian, a Frenchman and an Argentinian; but the different nationalities have gelled superbly with the local talent this season. "The players that we brought in were very wise selections," added Tsokkas, "and there are a lot of players that have come with us from the lower divisions."
APOP are seventh in the 14-team league and Tsokkas says the club have never been in ruder health. "We are absolutely delighted," he said. "We have secured a record amount of points and for the second consecutive season we just lost out on a top-four play-off place. It's a wonderful achievement." The club have built their own stadium with a capacity of 3,300 and have already captured the hearts of the locals who could very well be travelling with their team across Europe should APOP go on to lift the Cypriot Cup.
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