Writer: Gavin Cooper
Date:Thursday October 2 2008
Neo GSP Stadium
2nd October 2008
A game that Manchester City must not lose by more than one nil to ensure passage to the group stages where City will hopefully improve their European profile.
Mark Hughes talks about the previous European ties and the build up to the game: 'We`ve done okay in Europe and come through difficult games, where we were the favourites to go through, and that`s what we`ll be looking do to. We had a great performance at home the last time out [against Portsmouth] so we`ll be looking to replicate that.
We are playing okay at the moment and if we continue that against Omonia then it will cause them a problem.
It is key to get through the tie and my view is that we go with a strong team and then if we can have the luxury of making changes later in the game then that is what we will do.
If I feel there`s an opportunity to freshen the side I will look at it but I think it`s important to get the tie put to bed first and foremost.'
Mark then goes on to talk about the benefits of going on to the group stage matches: 'It gives you different experiences and different problems to solve. That helps you coming back to domestic competition. If we get into the group stages then that is the first objective achieved. You are then guaranteed a number of games that takes you into the New Year and that is important.
But first of all we need to overcome a spirited Omonia side, who caused a couple of problems in the first leg.
We need to put this tie to bed quite quickly. We need to start strong and dictate the tempo.'
City's treatment table is still reasonably extensive at present.
City's giant Belgian midfielder Vincent Kompany will be looking to shut out the Cypriots, and he is expected to shake off the slight knee problem he picked up at Sunday's defeat to Wigan in time for the game.
The towering midfield enforcer looks to have recovered well during the days since that defeat.
However, Hughes will be unable to call upon Martin Petrov (hamstring) and Michael Johnson (groin) for the crunch encounter.
With City being out of the Carling Cup if they are winning comfortably I expect a couple of the fringe players who have not featured much like Etuhu and Hamann.
After a slightly quiet game against Wigan on Sunday I fully expect the Brazilian to light up the City of Manchester Stadium this evening with his tricks and ability to bamboozle defences with his mazy runs.
Omonia have few injury headaches heading in to the game and will turn to Argentine striker Francisco Aguirre to fire them to victory.
The former St Gallen hit-man has a prolific track record and will be keen to prove his worth on English soil.
Veteran Romanian front-man Claudiu Niculescu will help to carry the burden of goalscoring expectation and has plenty of prior experience in European competition.
Meanwhile, talismanic skipper Costas Kaiafas, who has been with Omonia for 16 years, will look to keep Robinho and co. quiet in the middle of the park.
As the Albanian International showed in the away leg; he is pretty useful at dead ball situations and scored a fine strike in the Neo GSP Stadium two weeks ago.
Cypriot side AC Omonia have played four league games this season and have won all four by two goals to nil; and so are on good form.
City's season on the other hand has been a little up and down; well we're City fans, we wouldn't expect it any other way would we.
City hold the advantage with scoring two away goals and having a goal advantage.
We had Italian Paolo Dondarini as the referee in the away leg who was implicated in the match fixing scandals in Italy in 2006 lets hope tonight's French referee Said Ennjimi is not involved in any scandals or shows a real lack of compitence like what City were abjected to on Sunday.
Another dificult game; but in front of the home faithful I fully expect City to score two goals with Omonia getting a late consolation to make it a nervy last few minutes. MCFC 2 - 1 ACO. (4-2 Agg.)
Liverpool at home this Sunday 5th October with a 3pm kick off.
Date:Thursday October 2 2008
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