The official website for European football

Merkis rallies Apollon after two-goal defeat of Nice

Published: Friday 23 August 2013, 11.28CET
"I hope we can qualify not just for the club but for all of Cyprus," said Apollon Limassol FC captain Georgos Merkis after leading his side to a 2-0 first-leg win against OGC Nice.
by John Leonidou
from Nicosia
Merkis rallies Apollon after two-goal defeat of Nice
Gaston Sangoy salutes the crowd after scoring for Apollon ©AFP/Getty Images
SSI Err

Standings

 
Published: Friday 23 August 2013, 11.28CET

Merkis rallies Apollon after two-goal defeat of Nice

"I hope we can qualify not just for the club but for all of Cyprus," said Apollon Limassol FC captain Georgos Merkis after leading his side to a 2-0 first-leg win against OGC Nice.

Apollon Limassol FC skipper Georgos Merkis implored his team-mates not to rest on their laurels after securing a famous 2-0 victory against OGC Nice in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League play-off.

Christakis Christoforou's men were billed as overwhelming underdogs going into the tie, but a second-half double from Argentinian forward Gaston Sangoy has put them in a commanding position ahead of the 29 August decider at Stade Municipal du Ray. Unlike their cross-town rivals AEL Limassol FC, Apollon have never reached the group stage of a UEFA competition, yet find themselves on the verge of creating history.

Merkis, who saw domestic rivals Anorthosis Famagusta FC surrender a 3-0 first-leg advantage against Gefle IF in the second qualifying round last month, is determined not to make the same mistake. "We go to France knowing that Anorthosis lost 4-0 after taking a 3-0 lead, so that serves as a warning that we need to stay focused," said the Cyprus defender.

"This is a great result for us considering that Nice were favourites. We were a bit nervous in the opening exchanges but grew in confidence as the game went on. Things are going well for us and our fans have been great. I hope we can qualify not just for ourselves and the club but for all of Cyprus."

Experienced midfielder Rachid Hamdani, 28, who learned his trade in the lower reaches of French football before joining Apollon in 2011, was overwhelmed by the result. "I didn't expect us to win, although we did believe we could play well against them," he said. "We are delighted, but nothing is over because we have a tough second leg awaiting us. We showed our true fighting spirit and we will do the same over there."

Nice captain Didier Digard, meanwhile, rued his team's failure to take heed of coach Claude Puel's pearls of wisdom at the interval. “We are not in the best position ahead of the second leg. We had been warned that Apollon should not be taken lightly," said the 27-year-old.

"During the half-time break, the manager told us not to give away free-kicks because they thrive on set pieces. As we all saw, we were punished from a set piece and, after that, things got worse. Prior to their first goal, they didn't create many problems for us."

Last updated: 05/09/13 17.52CET

Related information

Player profiles
  • SSI Err
  • SSI Err
  • SSI Err
Member associations
  • SSI Err
  • SSI Err
Team profiles
  • SSI Err
  • SSI Err
Related match
  • SSI Err

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2014/matches/round=2000468/match=2012419/postmatch/report/index.html#captain+merkis+rallies+apollon

Lineups

apollon

Apollon

nice

Nice

83
Bruno ValeBruno Vale (GK)
Yellow Card90
1
OspinaDavid Ospina (GK)
6
GullónMarcos Gullón
3
KolodziejczakTimothée Kolodziejczak
9
RobertoRoberto
5
GomisKévin Gomis
Yellow Card21
10
SangoyGaston Sangoy
Goal54
Goal63
Substitution90+3
6
DigardDidier Digard (C)
16
MerkisGiorgos Merkis (C)
Yellow Card50
8
TraoréMahamane Traoré
18
DãnãnaeOvidiu Dãnãnae
13
EyssericValentin Eysseric
Substitution80
20
RobertBertrand Robert
Substitution73
14
PiedJérémy Pied
Substitution57
26
PapoulisFotis Papoulis
Substitution82
21
PalunLloyd Palun
55
KaripidisChristos Karipidis
22
N. MendyNampalys Mendy
56
HamdaniRachid Hamdani
25
GenevoisRomain Genevois
Yellow Card54
Substitution57
88
VasiliouGeorgios Vasiliou
33
ConstantBryan Constant
Yellow Card50

Substitutes

23
HidiIsli Hidi (GK)
40
HassenMouez Hassen (GK)
11
KonstantinouAlex Konstantinou
Substitution82
Yellow Card90+1
7
AbrielFabrice Abriel
27
AngeliAngelis Angeli
11
BautheacÉric Bautheac
Substitution57
28
StylianouMarios Stylianou
12
CvitanichDario Cvitanich
Substitution57
Yellow Card85
48
KyriakouCharis Kyriakou
Substitution73
23
BosettiAlexy Bosetti
Substitution80
92
HaberDaniel Haber
Substitution90+3
32
AmaviJordan Amavi
97
FragkouAndreas Fragkou
36
RougeauxLucas Rougeaux

Coach

Christakis Christoforou (CYP) Claude Puel (FRA)

Referee

Ivan Kružliak (SVK)

Assistant referees

Roman Slyško (SVK), Tomaš Somolani (SVK)

Fourth official

Richard Trutz (SVK)

Legend:

  • GoalsGoals
  • Own goalOwn goal
  • PenaltiesPenalties
  • Missed PenaltiesMissed Penalties
  • reds_cardRed Cards
  • yellow_cardsYellow cards
  • yellow_red_cardsYellow/red card
  • SubstitutionSubstitution
  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE word, the UEFA Europa League logo and the UEFA Europa League trophy are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.