APOEL loss too much for Ouzounides

by John Leonidou, Nicosia
published: Monday, 07 January 2008, 11:02
APOEL FC coach Marinos Ouzounides resigned after Ioannis Skopelitis's added-time goal gave Anorthosis Famagusta FC a win in Saturday's big game in Cyprus.

APOEL FC coach Marinos Ouzounides has resigned in the wake of his side's 1-0 defeat by Anorthosis Famagusta FC, a result that left them nine points adrift of the Cyprus Division A leaders.

'What is best'
The 39-year-old former Panathinaikos FC and Greece defender had been under pressure with his side failing to produce the kind of form that won them the title in 2006/07. An official statement from the club read: "Mr Ouzounides addressed the board of the club and gave his reasons for resigning. What is most important to Mr Ouzounides is what is best for APOEL."

Name signings
APOEL made a number of signings with a view to repeating their success of last season, like former Chelsea FC man Nuno Morais, striker Zé Carlos and experienced Brazilian midfielder Emerson, but four draws and three defeats in the first 15 games of the season – most notably the loss against Anorthosis – have represented a disappointing return, leaving APOEL second, nine points adrift of Ketsbaia's unbeaten side.

Unhappy ending
Saturday's big game had a cataclysmic finale for Ouzonides. With the scores level at 0-0 in the final minute, APOEL players reacted angrily to the referee's decision not to award Hélio Pinto a penalty, and defender Christos Kontis was then dismissed for sarcastically applauding when the match official awarded Anorthosis a free-kick soon after. Things went from bad to worse two minutes into added time when Jane Nikoloski spilled Paulo Costa's shot into the path of Skopelitis, allowing the Greek defender to hit the winner. Another APOEL defender, Daniel Florea, was then dismissed to compound the misery.

Ketsbaia glad
"I think a draw would have been a fairer result and am delighted that luck smiled on us in the end," said Ketsbaia. "The players did very well to ensure APOEL's attacks were restricted to set-pieces. We have a great advantage now but the title race isn't over. We still have around eleven games left plus the play-offs." Ouzounides added: "We had some chances and I also believe that a draw would have reflected the game far better but that's football. We have to pick ourselves up and continue to fight for the title." The fight will go on without Ouzounides, however.

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