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Wednesday, 18 November 2009 17:12

APOEL’s Helio Pinto prepares for tough schedule

Winger expects weekend’s result to stand

Portuguese forward Helio Pinto expects his goal during APOEL’s abandoned match with Nea Salamis at the weekend to prove valid and the result to stand, as he looks forward to a gruelling fixture list ahead of Christmas.

Pinto scored from a free-kick fifteen minutes from time during the match in Famagusta on Sunday, but after brief attempt at re-starting the game, play was suspended due to disturbances from the crowd. It was the third time the referee had been forced to call a halt to proceedings, such was the disruption from the home supporters.

“There was some commotion on the sidelines pretty much from the start,” the former Benfica man said. “There were a few penalties not given, then one of their players protested and was sent off. The problems began and the game was stopped. Later on there was an incident where the ball went off the pitch and objects were thrown, reaching the referee, and the match was stopped again.

“Fifteen minutes from the end, there was a free-kick for us. I shot directly for goal and scored, but a little later, the match was called off. The game didn’t last longer than five minutes after that. I think the result will stand, as it was the opposition fans who provoked all the problems.”

Should APOEL be awarded the victory, they will move to within three points of leaders Anorthosis Famagusta at the top of the Cypriot First Division. Having combined the defence of their league title with a first-ever appearance in the Champions League, Pinto’s men have been pushed to the limit physically, and things show no signs of letting up over the next few weeks.

“The calendar is very difficult for us. We have already played around twenty games so far this season, which is a situation a lot of the players are not used to. Now, ahead of Christmas, we have six more games. We face the top four teams in Cyprus, as well as Atletico Madrid and Chelsea in the Champions League. It will be tough.”

By Sean Gillen

Related article: Helio Pinto admits Portugal frustration

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