Captain Marinos Satsias says APOEL FC have set their hearts on a place in next season's UEFA Champions League group stage after sealing their 19th Cypriot championship, and first in three years.
The title was won on 15 April when a 3-0 win against Ayia Napa FC coincided with a 2-1 defeat for their main rivals Omonia AC at Olympiakos Nicosia FC on 15 April, and Marinos Ouzounides's side are now aiming to become the first local side to reach the group stage - five years after pushing AEK Athens FC all the way in the third qualifying round.
"Obviously to challenge for the group stage would be something huge for us," 28-year-old midfielder Satsias told uefa.com. "It is a very difficult challenge but not an impossible one. We came very close a few years ago when we went a long way in the qualifying rounds before being knocked out of final round by AEK Athens. Why not go one step further this time around?"
APOEL's 19th crown saw them move on to level pegging with Omonia in their ongoing battle for footballing supremacy on the island, but Omonia gave themselves something to celebrate on Wednesday night as they beat the newly-crowned champions 2-1, following a 1-1 first-leg draw, to move through to the Cypriot Cup final.
"I believe that we showed in the first leg that we were the better side this season," Satsias said. "I believe APOEL have been one of the strongest teams in the past six or seven years because we've challenged and won trophies and we also usually finish first or second in the table."
He will hope to put any lingering disappointment behind him as APOEL collect the title after their final home game of the season against Anorthosis Famagusta FC on Saturday. "The depth in our squad this season was for me the difference and we were by far the better side," said Satsias. He will be hoping to prove his side's ability on a much higher stage next season.
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