APOEL v Ajax background

APOEL FC will look to build on an encouraging matchday one performance at FC Barcelona when they host AFC Ajax in their first ever meeting with Dutch opposition.

APOEL coach Giorgos Donis faced Ajax in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals as a player
APOEL coach Giorgos Donis faced Ajax in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals as a player ©AFP/Getty Images

APOEL FC will face Dutch opposition for the first time when they host AFC Ajax in their second Group F fixture.

Match background

APOEL
• Beaten narrowly at FC Barcelona on matchday one, APOEL won both of their home games in the qualifying rounds – 2-0 against HJK Helskinki and 4-0 against Aalborg BK.

• At home in last season's UEFA Europa League group stage APOEL lost to Eintracht Frankfurt (0-3), beat FC Girondins de Bordeaux (2-1) and drew with Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (0-0).

• The Cypriot club's combined home record from their two previous UEFA Champions League campaigns is W3 D1 L4 (qualifying not included).

Ajax
• Ajax opened their campaign with a 1-1 home draw against Paris Saint-Germain.

• They lost three of four away games in UEFA competition last season. In the UEFA Champions League, they are on a seven-game winless streak on their travels, stretching back to a 2-0 victory at GNK Dinamo Zagreb in October 2011.

• On their last visit to Cyprus, Ajax won 3-0 at Apollon Limassol FC to complete a 5-0 aggregate success in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup first round.

• Ajax's second biggest victory in UEFA competition was against Cypriot club AC Omonia – 10-0 in Amsterdam in the 1979/80 European Champion Clubs' Cup second round. They lost the second leg 4-0 in Cyprus.

Coach and player links
• Giorgos Donis was in the Panathinaikos FC team beaten by Frank de Boer's Ajax in the 1995/96 UEFA Champions League semi-finals. Panathinaikos won the first leg 1-0 in Amsterdam – Donis himself set up the goal after a 40-metre break from inside his own half – but Ajax responded with a 3-0 victory in Athens. Edwin van der Sar, now marketing director at Ajax, also played.

• De Boer's Netherlands won 4-0 at the GSP Stadium in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Cyprus on 7 October 2000.

• Marc Overmars, now Ajax director of football affairs, and Van der Sar played with De Boer in that 2000 Nicosia qualifier and again in the Oranje's 4-0 win in the Eindhoven return.

• Kolbeinn Sigthórsson hit Iceland's first goal in a 2-0 FIFA World Cup qualifying win over a Cyprus side including Constantinos Charalambides, Stathis Aloneftis, Nektarios Alexandrou and second-half substitutes Pieros Sotiriou and George Efrem in Reykjavik in October 2013.

• Efrem was in the Omonia team that defeated ADO Den Haag 3-1 on aggregate in the 2011/12 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round, winning the first leg 3-0 at the GSP Stadium.

• Viktor Fischer and Sotiriou each scored twice in Denmark's 6-2 home win over Cyprus in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship elite round in May 2012. Lucas Andersen and Kostas Artymatas also played.

• Striker Nikos Machlas won domestic league and cups with both Ajax and APOEL.

Match facts

APOEL

• APOEL have won five of their last seven games in all competitions, the exceptions the 1-0 loss to Barcelona on matchday one and Saturday's 0-0 home draw with AEL Limassol FC.

• John Arne Riise provided two assists on his debut as APOEL won 3-1 at Ayia Napa FC on 20 September.

• Pieros Sotiriou scored his first goal for APOEL against Ayia Napa.

• At home, APOEL were the strongest team in the Cypriot top flight last season, winning 15 of their 18 games and losing just once.

• Stathis Aloneftis, Constantinos Charalambides, George Efrem, Nektarios Alexandrou and Marios Antoniades all featured in Cyprus' shock 2-1 UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying win away to Bosnia and Herzegovina in September.

Ajax

• Ajax have not managed to avoid defeat over the first two UEFA Champions League matchdays this century in eight previous attempts.

• Kolbeinn Sigthórsson got off the mark for Ajax this season with a hat-trick – his first for the club – and also missed a penalty in a 5-2 victory at NAC Breda on Saturday.

• The NAC win was the Amsterdam side's third away victory in a week, scoring 15 goals in the process.

• Arek Milik scored six as Ajax beat amateur Amsterdam side JOS Watergraafsmeer 9-0 on 24 September in the Dutch Cup round of 64.

• Milik joined an illustrious band of players to score six in one game for Ajax, with Luis Suárez (2009), Marco van Basten (1985) and Klaas Bakker (1955). The club record is seven, scored by Piet van Reenen against SC Veendam on 3 April 1932.

• Goalkeeper Diederik Boer celebrated his 34th birthday with his competitive first-team bow against JOS Watergraafsmeer. Queensy Menig marked his debut with a goal.

• The JOS Watergraafsmeer match took place at the Olympisch Stadion, Ajax's first game there since 3 April 1996, when they lost 1-0 to Panathinaikos FC in the UEFA Champions League semi-final. The Dutch side won the second leg 3-0.

• Viktor Fischer has been out with a hamstring injury since 23 February.

• De Boer became the first coach to win four successive Dutch league titles last season.

• Richairo Zivkovic has signed a two-year contract extension, tying him to the club until summer 2019.

Top