Borussia Dortmund will play its third UEFA Champions League group stage match on Tuesday against reigning Cypriot First Division champ Apoel Nicosia.
I talked with Harris Kyprianou, Chairman of Apoel fan-club APOEL Partidarios, and member Stephanos Stephanou about club culture and how the team looks ahead of Tuesday’s match.
Dan Shulman - For those who aren't familiar with domestic league in Cyprus, what is the competition like?
Harris Kyprianou - The competition is between 2-3 teams every year, but APOEL is the winner every time
DS - Seeing as Apoel is a bit of a power in Cyprus, what is the top goal for the club in Europe?
HK - The top goal for APOEL is to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage. Everything else is a top up.
DS - What was the general reaction after being placed into a group with Real Madrid, Dortmund, and Tottenham Hotpsur?
HK - It was great feeling that those big team will come to Cyprus with their star players and we can see them playing live.
DS - What are some of the strengths & weaknesses of this year's Apoel side?
HK - Since our team has started with a different coach at the beginning, some of the players that were brought in this season are not suiting with his game plan. Our big advantage is that we have a lot of experience in European football.
DS - Give us a general idea of the fan culture in Nicosia? What makes it unique to other places in Europe?
HK - APOEL ULTRAS are the best fans in Cyprus and are very passionate about their team. We consider ourselves “the orange power” of Cyprus. We travel to all the countries that our team is playing.
Stephanos Stephanou - In our opinion, the fan level in Cyprus does not lack of anything from countries like Serbia, Germany, Czech Republic, etc. We can easily say that APOEL fans, AU79, are the 12th player for our team because they push the players into their maximum strength. The core of our fans are those who managed with their chants and cheers to push APOEL to reach the best teams in Europe and to reach the round of 16 in Europa League.
DS - Which Apoel player is most likely to be a problem for Dortmund and why?
HK - Stathis Aloneftis will be a problem for Dortmund because he is very quick and clever.
SS - Stathis Aloneftis will be the key player against Dortmund. He managed to prove himself to be a very good player and despite his age, he can easily put trouble to Dortmunds’ back line.
DS - Seeing as the domestic league in Cyprus isn't one of Europe's elite, are there any other league's or clubs fans in Cyprus follow particularly close?
SS - Statistically, English Premier League is the league which Cypriot fans are supporting most. Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are the top ranked teams with supporters in Cyprus. Barcelona, Real Madrid, and A.C. Milan are also followed by fans in Cyprus.
A special thanks to APOEL Partidarios, Harris Kyprianou, and Stephanos Stephanou for their help. Borussia Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia kick off at 2:45 p.m EST at GSP Stadium in Nicosia. The reverse fixture is two weeks later, November 1, at 3:45 EST at the Wesfalenstadion.