"We are worthy champions," said captain Constantinos Charalambides after APOEL FC secured a second successive domestic double on the last day of the Cypriot season.
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APOEL FC have successfully defended their Cypriot championship crown, sealing further silverware with a 4-2 victory at Ermis Aradippou FC on the final day of the season.
The club, who defeated AEL Limassol FC by the same scoreline earlier in the week to retain the Cypriot Cup, have secured a first consecutive double. Needing only a point to clinch their 24th league title, they got off to the perfect start as two goals inside the opening ten minutes from Tomás De Vincenti and Constantinos Charalambides gave the visitors a strong lead.
Yiannis Taralidis reduced the deficit moments later from a free-kick before a double – including a penalty – from Algerian forward Rafik Djebbour put APOEL comfortably in the driving seat. Former APOEL forward Andreas Papathanasiou made it 4-2 immediately after half-time, but there was no spoiling the party which was already underway in the stands.
"I think this has been a competitive league title race but I feel we were the most stable throughout the season," commented veteran skipper Charalambides. "We may not have played that well towards the end [of the season], but I feel that we are worthy champions."
Former APOEL forward Gustavo Manduca, who took over as caretaker coach following the exit of Thorsten Fink earlier this month, believes his side can do even better next term. "It's a strange feeling – we reached the group stages of the [UEFA] Champions League, we won the cup and now the title and still the fans feel that we can do better. That is the level APOEL have reached. But we can still play even better."
New coach Domingos Paciência officially takes over the reins on Monday and will lead the club into UEFA Champions League qualifying at the start of next season. Apollon Limassol FC, AEK Larnaca FC and AC Omonia will all enter the UEFA Europa League qualifying rounds.