APOEL v Astana background
Saturday, August 22, 2015
APOEL have yet to lose a UEFA Champions League play-off but have work to do if they are to make it past Astana, who won the sides' opening meeting in Kazakhstan.
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APOEL will look to maintain their 100% success rate in UEFA Champions League play-offs as they seek to get the better of tournament debutants Astana.
• Baurzhan Dzholchiyev's 14th-minute header proved the difference between the sides in the first leg. It was Astana's first encounter with Cypriot opponents and APOEL's first experience of Kazakhstani action.
• APOEL have not won in five European home games (D2 L3) since beating Aalborg 4-0 in last season's UEFA Champions League play-offs. They scored only once in those five home matches.
• Astana have not scored in their last three European away fixtures (D1 L2).
• This is just the second UEFA tie to pitch teams from Kazakhstan and Cyprus against each other. In the first qualifying round of the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League, Omonia ousted Irtysh Pavlodar, triumphing 2-1 in Kazkhstan after a 0-0 first-leg draw in Nicosia. APOEL's Stathis Aloneftis featured for Omonia as a 76th-minute substitute in that game.
• Cyprus won 2-1 against Kazakhstan in a Limassol friendly in 2004 – the nations' only meeting at senior international level. APOEL's Constantinos Charalambides was one of the scorers.
• APOEL have won only one of their five qualifying matches this term (W1 D2 L2).
• Astana could become the first side from Kazakhstan to play in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Shakhter Karagandy became the first Kazakh representative in a UEFA group stage when they made it to the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group phase.
• No Kazakh club has ever won a UEFA play-off tie; Shakhter reached the UEFA Europa League group stage in 2013/14 after losing a UEFA Champions League play-off to Celtic, while Astana crashed 7-0 on aggregate to Villarreal after advancing to last season's UEFA Europa League play-offs.
• APOEL have won all of their UEFA Champions League play-offs to date, dispatching FC København (2009/10), Wisła Kraków (2011/12) and Aalborg (2014/15) to proceed to the group stage.
Links and trivia
• Astana and Nicosia are 3,500km apart, meaning these teams have by some distance the longest journeys of any of the sides in these play-offs.
• APOEL are bidding to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage for a fourth time. Just one other Cypriot outfit – Anorthosis Famagusta in 2008/09 – have made it to that phase.
• Astana boss Stanimir Stoilov briefly coached APOEL's domestic rivals Anorthosis in 2011.
• Astana's Slovenian defender Branko Ilić was also at Anorthosis in the 2012/13 campaign.