NYON – APOEL were thanking their lucky stars on Friday morning after being pulled out of a pot of 30 teams to replace recently expelled Fenerbahce in the group stages of the Europa League.
Paulo Sergio’s men had crashed out of the playoffs on Thursday night with a 2-1 defeat at home to Zulte and despite failing to win any of their four games in Europe this summer, found themselves in the draw after Turkish side Fenerbahce lost their appeal at the CAS following their expulsion for two years from UEFA.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino described the Cypriot champions as the Europa League’s “lucky losers” after they were picked out of the bowl.
APOEL will join Apollon Limassol in the draw at midday on Friday after Christakis Christoforou upset French side Nice on Thursday night to advance 2-1 on aggregate.
APOEL have twice reached the group stages of the Champions League even reaching the quarterfinals in the 2011-2012 season but have never qualified for the Europa League group stage.
Apollon have never reached the group stages of the UEFA competition.