AEK Larnaca take aim at Maccabi Haifa

After earning a 0-0 draw at FC Schalke 04 on matchday four, AEK Larnaca FC will look to propel themselves into the Group J reckoning with victory against Maccabi Haifa FC despite a change of coach.

AEK Larnaca's Miljan Mrdaković celebrates after scoring against Steaua earlier in the group stage
AEK Larnaca's Miljan Mrdaković celebrates after scoring against Steaua earlier in the group stage ©Getty Images

AEK Larnaca FC will look to stake their claim in UEFA Europa League Group J with victory against Maccabi Haifa FC, though an impressive 0-0 draw at FC Schalke 04 on matchday four was not enough to save coach Ton Caanen's job.

Previous meetings
• Mohammad Ghadir's header nine minutes into the second half settled the sides' matchday one encounter 1-0 in Maccabi's favour, with the home team rewarded for their territorial supremacy. It was Maccabi's first meeting with Cypriot opponents.

• AEK Larnaca took on Maccabi Petach-Tikva FC in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup second qualifying round; they won the home leg 3-0 in Nicosia thanks to Dragan Isailović's first-half hat-trick, but were thrashed 4-0 in the return fixture in Tel Aviv.

• Haifa played five home games at the GSP Stadium in Nicosia – the venue for this game – during their 2002/03 European campaign, winning three and losing two. Those results included 3-0 victories against Olympiacos FC and Manchester United FC in the UEFA Champions League first group stage.

Match background
• A 5-0 loss to Schalke on matchday three was AEK's first home defeat in UEFA club competition. Prior to that, AEK were unbeaten in seven European club competition home games (five wins and two draws, including a 0-0 against FC Barcelona on 26 September 1996) since they were formed in 1994 with the merger of Pezoporikos FC and EPA Larnaca FC.

• Maccabi have not won in nine games on their travels in Europe (one draw and eight defeats) since beating FC Salzburg 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League play-offs on 19 August 2009.

Team facts
• AEK Larnaca coach Caanen, who steered the promoted side to fourth place in 2010/11, parted company with the club on 20 November following a disappointing start to the season. His former assistant Demetris Demetriou has been placed in temporary command.

• AEK Larnaca and ŠK Slovan Bratislava are the lowest scorers in the group stage to date, with just one goal from their first four games.

• Maccabi Haifa are at their most dangerous in the closing stages of the first half; four of their nine Group J goals have been scored between the 31st and 45th minutes.

• The Israeli side are four goals shy of conceding their 50th in the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League; this will be their 33rd game in the two competitons.

• AEK striker Miljan Mrdjaković played in Israel with Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC in the 2006/07 season.

• Having previously led FC Ashdod in the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup, Elisha Levi has won league titles with the club in 2008/09 and 2010/11 and took his side through a UEFA Champions League group stage campaign two seasons ago – finishing fourth behind FC Girondins de Bordeaux, FC Bayern München and Juventus.