NICOSIA - Omonia boss Toni Savevski has warned pacesetters Anorthosis Famagusta that his side will launch a full-on attack when the two sides meet in the weekend’s big game on Saturday.
Anorthosis are currently top of the league standings – six points ahead of second place APOEL – and could take another big step towards securing their first league title since 2007 with victory at the GSP Stadium.
But hosts Omonia will not be rolling down the red carpet for Ronny Levy’s side as they aim to build on their recent good run of form which has seen them move to within two points of the top four.
“We will need to attack because we are Omonia”, Savevski told reporters this week. “Without disrespecting our opponents, we only think about how we will play on the day.”
Omonia’s season has been hit by the club’s huge debts which in turn prompted an exodus of key players in the summer that included the likes of star attacker Stathis Aloneftis and skipper Christos Karipides.
Their performances on the pitch also took a turn for the worse and despite a recent reversal of fortunes under Savevski, they are currently fifth in the league standings and out of contention in the league title race.
“We have a big game ahead of us against the undefeated league leaders and there is obviously a lot of interesting surrounding this game. We will do everything that we can to take the three points. There is a thirst and a will to show that we are still here. I call on the fans – who continue to stand by us – to show as much calm as they can. There is pressure on us but we also need to remain calm in order to achieve our objective.”
Anorthosis will head into the game having still not lost in domestic competition this season and will also be in good spirit after coming from behind to beat Alki 2-1 in extra time and reach the quarterfinals of the Cyprus Coca-Cola Cup on Wednesday.
Israeli forward Barak Itzhaki – who scored at opposite ends of his side’s victory in midweek – says it is vital that his side doesn’t look too far ahead in the league title race.
“It is important that we take every competition step-by-step”, he told reporters. “We now look towards the game in the league against Omonia which is of course a very big one for us.”
While Itzhaki and his team-mates were celebrating their place in the Cup quarterfinals, the mood was far different at APOEL after the Nicosia club suffered a disappointing 3-1 defeat at home to AEL.
APOEL boss Ivan Jovanovic, who side must bounce back against Olympiakos on Sunday, described his side’s exit in the Cup as “the most difficult time” he has endured at the club.
His side had been leading the tie 2-0 on aggregate and looked on course for the first appearance in the last eight for the first time in three attempts before two goals from Vouho and a strike from substitute Monteiro saw the Limassol club advance at their expense.
“It’s a difficult time right now and probably the most difficult in all the time that I have been here”, said Jovanovic. “We understand the disappointment and frustration of the fans. I have to take responsibility for the defeat.”
In the other games on the weekend, Stephen Constantine’s Ethnikos Achnas will be seeking their third league win in succession in a bid to climb away from relegation when they host bottom club AEP while sixth place Apollon Limassol could move closer towards the top four with a victory at home Enosis Neon Paralimniou.
Title holders AEL will be in confident mood after their impressive win away to APOEL in the Cup when they visit Nea Salamina while third place AEK Larnaca are away to Ayia Napa.
In the only game on Monday, Neophytos Larkou’s Alki welcome Doxa Katokopia at the GSZ Stadium.