Group Stage Fan Preview: APOEL

Founded on November 8th 1926, APOEL (in Greek: ΑΠΟΕΛ) stands for “Athletic Football Club of the Greeks of Nicosia”. The name alone indicates that APOEL is – at least for APOEL fans – a lot more than just a football club. It represents our Greek heritage and ideology that to this day we carry with pride. Fast forward to 1932, when APOEL won the first league campaign organized in Cyprus, albeit an unofficial one since the Cyprus Football Association (CFA) had not been founded yet. In 1934 8 clubs (APOEL among them) cooperated to found the CFA and 2 years later (1936) APOEL won its first official Cyprus League title. A year on, APOEL did their first double.
Today, APOEL is the most successful football club on the island, with 26 League titles (including the last 5 in a row), 21 Cups & 13 Supercups. Despite its domestic successes through the decades, the dream of European Qualification remained elusive until 2009, when coach Ivan Jovanovic’s APOEL disqualified Copenhagen to make it to the UCL group stage.
It would be the cheapest roster in the history of the UCL to qualify for the group stage. 2 years later APOEL would qualify for the UCL again, except this time things would be very different. After topping a group made up of FC Porto, FC Zenit & Shakhtar Donetsk, APOEL would disqualify Lyon in the round of 16 to reach the quarter finals, causing one of the biggest upsets in UCL history. At the quarters, the obstacle of Real Madrid proved to be insurmountable. Today, APOEL counts 4 UCL and 3 UEL qualifications. Last season’s UEL campaign was another bright page in the club’s history, as APOEL managed to disqualify Athelit Bilbao at the round of 32, eventually bowing out at the round of 16 after 2 losses to RSC Anderlecht.
This season, APOEL have been drawn in perhaps the hardest group. It is obviously great for us fans to see our team go head to head with some of the biggest teams in the World, but we feel a different set of opponents would’ve given us a better chance of progressing. At the end of the day, qualification to the group stage of the UCL is another great achievement for APOEL and we are looking forward to the games. The atmosphere at the GSP will be fantastic and the fans (APOEL Ultras) will be singing from the first minute to the last, giving our players the extra passion and energy they will need considering the magnitude of the opposition.
As fans, we are also looking forward to seeing some of this summer’s transfers in action. The 3 young (U22), talented prospects that we acquired just before the transfer window closed seem to stand out and there are some high hopes that they will prove to be as good as we think they are. Roland Sallai (AM), Praxitelis Vouros (RB) & Ghayas Zahid all got their debut in the team’s first domestic League game, with the former really making an impression. Our expectation for this season’s UCL is to give it our best. It’s very hard to have expectations to progress against Real, Spurs and Dortmund, but our team has defied the odds many times in the past so we are hoping to perform yet another footballing miracle.
The bookies will tell you we have already reserved the last spot in the group. However, APOEL fans have belief in their DNA and it is one of the things that make us different as fans. It is this belief that has helped us beat teams like Porto & Zenit, draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and knock out Lyon and Athletic Bilbao (in the UEL). And it is the same belief that the fans make sure to transmit to our players every time they step on to the pitch. As we APOEL fans say, “Mono APOEL”.
By: @apoelnet_eng
Photo: Goal