Monday, January 19, 2009

Cyprus January 2009


Its warm, bright and sunny this time of year particularly in the coastal areas of Cyprus. At times it feels like a summers day in England. And there are plenty of Brits around either visiting or resident and they are well catered for with restaurants serving english breakfast, numerous pubs, The Sun and driving on the left.

Yes the resorts do have an out-of-season feel and in some places it seems like there is a restaurant for every tourist.
However there are interesting uncrowded historic sites to visit and (rocky) scenery to enjoy.

Not surprisingly the football can offer some Greek passion.

The Right wins from the left wing.

Omonia 0 APOEL 1

Close to 20,000 packed the GSP (National) stadium, some 5km outside of Nicosia, for this local derby. Cars and scooters parked where they could and probably in places they shouldn't.
Unusually for many European derbies this one had the stadium split with a side and an end for each set of fans. The left wing greens of Omonia against the right wingers of APOEL with their Greek flags.

Most seem to mix OK apart for the younger ultras who clashed at half time needing to be separated even further by the police. More worringly there had been some violence towards Turkish cypriots in Nicosia apparently caused by extremist football fans. Altogether 45 people, including police, were injured on the day.

Back to game and Omonia played very cautiously and it was APOEL who looked more likely in the first half.

All the action came at the end of the half as Ndikumana was sent off following a clash of heads. This triggered the fighting in the stands and some serious abuse for the referee.

APOEL scored their goal early in the 2nd , predictably down the left as Kaseke, the replacement right back, was unable to stop the bandaged Alexandrou from shoooting in off a defender.

Omonia eventually had to get forward and they did hit the bar with a neat chip by Aloneftis. But despite a prolonged period of injuries and delays (including one when the referee briefly took off the players following excess smoke being on the pitch)

The win meant APOEL joined Omonia at the top of the Cyprus Premier League and to give it (unneeded) added spice both teams are currently level on 19 titles apiece.

So a more than lively derby in a stadium (track-less for a change) that could generate some atmosphere.

Even in Larnaca.

AEK Larnaca 1 Alki Larnaca 1

A lower scale of derby in Larnaca , watched by some 2,500 in the Zenon stadium (with a part covered main stand , track and open seating opposite)

Lower key but not without some passion as AEK's Megahed (sic) was sent off after two yellow cards in quick succession - a coming together of heads and for blocking a defender.

AEK came out to attack, generally with long balls , and they eventually scored a contestable goal at the end of the 1st half. A cross/shot by Gonzalez seemingly taken over the line by the goalie.

At least 3 Alki players were booked for protesting the decision.

In the 2nd the apparent injustice galvanised the away team and they had the initiave , especially after the dismissal, scoring through Lima following a passing move.

AEK , second from bottom , were probably grateful to hold on for the point.

No breakthrough in Limassol.

AEL Limassol 0 APEP 0

The Tsirion, home to AEL and Apollon, is an attractive stadium with two similar two-tier covered stands curving around the pitch. On a coldish night nearly 3,000 turned out to see this stalemate between the home team and the pink shirted visitors from Pitsilia.
Not that the game was particluarly negative as we witnessed some decent attacking play but in the end not too many decisive chances.

more pictures at

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