Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Cyprus had one more transitional season – for a second year continued the reduction of the top division, which now consisted of 15 teams. Two team were relegated and one promoted in order of achieving the typical for the country league of 14 members. Apart from that, the season was marked by change of guard – the two strongest clubs were unquestionably best, but exchanged places.
The exile Nea Salamina (Famagusta) won the second league and the single promotion – a quick return of the usual first division member to their natural environment.
The two rivals from the city of Paphos were to play their derby in the next season as well, but in the lower league. Both finished with 19 points, goal difference placed APOP above Evagoras, but... we are talking of the last two places in first division. Both teams were relegated – and not surprisingly, for they played more often in second division than in the first. Above them it was business as usual without anything upsetting or really surprising. Six positions in the league were determined by goal-difference – that was perhaps the most characteristic feature of this season. Last place was decided by goal-difference and so was the title. Yet, the league as a whole was either above or bellow these struggles. Perhaps one club must be mentioned from the bulk:

Keravnos Strovolos, the tiny club from Nicosia, which hardly ever played among the best, managed to finish safely 12th – on better goal-difference too. A big success really – they were not expected to stay in the league, and escaping relegation was what success meant in their case. Meantime, Pezoporikos (Larnaca) finished 3rd – confidently above rivals, but not for a second a title contender. They finished with 33 points. The two clubs above them had 48 points each.
The usual suspects – Omonia and APOEL – raced head to head to the end. Omonia lost just one match and had the best defense. APOEL won the most matches and had the best striking record. At the end, a single goal decided winners from losers: APOEL had +53 goal-difference and Omonia +52.
APOEL triumphed over their arch-rivals by a single goal, but it was very sweet victory indeed – their first since 1973, finally breaking Omonia's monopoly.
The Cup finals reversed the roles: APOEL did not reach it, but Omonia, which played for the last time Cup final in 1974 did, opposing Alki (Larnaca). Alki, traditionally not even the top club in their own city, had no chances – as ever, they were among those fighting for survival in the league, where they ended 11th. The difference of class was obviously not in their favour and they lost the final, as expected – 1-3.
Omonia lost the title, but on the other hand won the Cup – a trophy, which they did not hold since 1974. It was Omonia champions and APOEL Cup winners in the recent years, but now the roles reversed. APOEL in particular wished the new disposition to remain in the future.