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Apollon hope Zürich test brings inspiration

Back in the group stage for a second successive season, Apollon Limassol FC will be hoping for improved fortunes at home as they open Group A against FC Zürich.

Apollon are the first Cypriot side to reach the group stage for a second time
Apollon are the first Cypriot side to reach the group stage for a second time ©AFP/Getty Images

Apollon Limassol FC are embarking on a second successive UEFA Europa League group stage campaign and will be eager to end a barren spell at home as FC Zürich return to Cyprus.

Form guide
Apollon's only previous home game against Swiss opponents ended in defeat, while Zürich are unbeaten (W1 D1) in two visits to Cyprus.

Apollon made it through the play-offs with a sensational 4-1 win at FC Lokomotiv Moskva, but are without a win in four European home games (D2 L2), including all three of their previous UEFA Europa League group stage home fixtures.

Zürich's 3-1 win at FC Spartak Trnava in the play-offs ended an eight-game wait for a European away win (D2 L6); they had not prevailed on the road since beating AC Milan 1-0 at San Siro in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage.

Trivia and links
Apollon goalkeeper Isli Hidi could come up against fellow Albanian internationals Armando Sadiku and Burim Kukeli, who are both on the books at Zürich.

• Having made their debut last season, Apollon are the first Cypriot side to have reached the UEFA Europa League group stage for a second time.

Apollon's Ivorian forward Guie Gneki Abraham twice faced Zürich during a 2012/13 loan spell at FC Lausanne-Sport; his side lost both games 2-0.

• The clubs have old friends in common. Austrian coach Rolf Fringer was in charge of Apollon in 2004 and Zürich in 2012, while another former Zürich coach – Kurt Jara – was in charge of Apollon's domestic rivals APOEL FC from 1997 to 1998.

The coaches
• Appointed in March 2013, Christakis Christoforou guided Apollon to Cypriot Cup glory in 2012/13, and is the first coach to have led the men's and women's branches of the same club in UEFA competition. The former defender steered Apollon's women's side to five successive domestic doubles, and to the UEFA Women's Champions League round of 32 three times.

• Not to be confused with the famous Swiss referee with whom he shares a name, Zürich coach Urs Meier was a defender for the likes of FC Schaffhausen, AC Bellinzona and Grasshopper Club before moving into coaching. Briefly in charge of the Liechtenstein national team, he took charge of his hometown club in 2012, having thrived at the helm of their youth team.