Beaten 3-0 away to holders Real Madrid CF on match day one, APOEL will need a good performance against their English opponents, Tottenham Hotspur. This will be the very first encounter between the two clubs, so what should we expect from this game, will the North London’s club burn under the hot Cyprus sun ?
ΡΟΕΛ were created on November 8, 1926 in the back room of Charalambrou Ioannou’s bakery by some forty football addicts ; the A was added two years later, when they became also an athletics club.
Even then, their story started four years before (1922) when a Greek businessman, Georgios Poulias came to Cyprus from Greece to manage a tobacco factory. A big football fan, he soon was involved trying to solve some problems between the different local clubs, before deciding to create his own.
In these days, there weren’t any official Ligue games, but APOEL won the first unofficial “Cities trophy” in 1932, soon after in 1934/35 won the official championship, and the double(Ligue+Cup) two years later(1936-37); since then, they were sacred Champions, 26 times.
In Champions League, their biggest feat was during the 2011-12 season; they qualified for the group stage beating Wisla Krakow and then finished first of their group in front of FC Porto, Zenit St Petersburg and Shakhtar Donesk.
APOEL are also the first and only Cypriot club to reach the knockout stages of the competition, vs France’s Olympique Lyonnais; the first game was played at the Gerland Stadium (1-0 Lyon). This defeat was quickly erased in the second leg and APOEL pulled out on penalties (4-3) after two stops by Dionysis Chiotis against Alexandre Lacazette and Michel Bastos.
This quarter-finals qualification added a new page in their country’s football history, but facing Real Madrid was too much for such an inexperienced club: they lost at home 0-3 and 5-2 away.
Cyprus, a divided country in two halves since 1974 (Cyprus Republic and the Republic of North Turkish Cyprus) are also divided in their football political beliefs: APOEL were founded as the football club from”Greeks to Greeks” thus showing their attachment to Greece and it’s easy to know the people’s political vues by asking them what football team they support!
The club’s faithful took advantage of the home game vs Ajax Amsterdam to show their greek heritage by a giant “tifo” in which Cyprus and the greek flag were the main ingredients. Meanwhile the other Nicosia club Omonia(Unity) are representing flags with “Cyprus for Cyprus” and Che Guevara portraits.
Back in 2012, when APOEL played at home Real Madrid, an enormous feat for the country’s football, the Cyprus president, didn’t show up; Dimitris Christofias of the communist party, was a supporter of Omonia !!!
This would be a tricky game for the Spurs; they’ll have to play in a stadium with a greek ambiance and the noise could be deafening! Nevertheless, or at least on paper, the English club’s players are able to put that aside and grab a much needed win.
APOEL’s Dutch goalkeeper Boy Waterman, helped his team by only conceding three vs Real Madrid and players like captain NectariosAlexandrou, Nuno Morais, Igor de Camargo, Georgios Makris, Georgios Efrem and the Olympiakos Pirée young loanee Giannis Gianniotas, could be intersting to watch, propably in 4-4-2 .
After the defeat vs Real Madrid, the club’s manager Georgios Donis, said that they must be realistic and admit that the three other clubs were better, but that didn’t mean that they won’t try to give their best, especially at the home games.
APOEL qualified for the group stage beating SK Slavia Praha (2-0 and 0-0) but didn’t start their championship as they’d wished: 0-0 vs Aris and lost 0-1 vs Anorthosis.
It’s true that this will be the first ever encounter between these two clubs but that doesn’t mean that they’re perfect strangers…
Tottenham’s boss Mauricio Pochettino, faced APOEL in the 1996/97 UEFA first round wilst playing for RCD Espagnol(2-2 Away 1-0 Home).
Hugo Lloris, captained Lyon’s side in that famous 2011/12 Champions League knockout game.
Lorenzo Ebecilio, was at AFC Ajax between 2010-13 and played alongside Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderveireld and JanVertonghen.
Igor de Camargo, played alongside with Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Dembele and Toby Aldeveireld, with Belgium.
Georgios Efrem, is a pur product of Arsenal’s Academy….ahem 😊