Omonia Nicosia boss and former Celtic manager Neil Lennon celebrates the club’s 15th Cyprus Cup after beating Ethnikos Achnas in a penalty shootout. Photo Savvides
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Former Celtic boss leads Omonia to cup win

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Former Celtic manager Neil Lennon has delivered silverware in his first season in charge of Nicosia giants Omonia, who celebrate their 15th Cyprus Cup after beating Ethnikos Achnas in a penalty shootout.

The Greens lifted the Cup on Wednesday night after a 5-4 penalty shootout victory at Nicosia’s GSP Stadium.

Lennon, 50, only stepped into the Omonia job in March, his first time managing a club outside the UK and his first job after his departure from Celtic in 2021.

Taking over from former Manchester United defender Henning Berg after the club had fallen into the bottom half of the league, Lennon rekindled spirits in the dressing room and led the team to the final against relegated Ethnikos Achnas.

Ethnikos was to be feared despite relegation, as the team had knocked out Championship runners up AEK Larnaca, beating them at home and away.

The final didn’t get off to the greatest of starts for Lennon’s men, as Omonia were reduced to 10 men after just five minutes.

Wing-back Abdullahi Shehu was sent off after impeding Ethnikos Polish attacker Kamil Wojtkowski, depriving him of a goal-scoring opportunity.

Omonia held on through extra time to take the scoreless game to a penalty shootout.

After a nerve recking shootout, Omonia was victorious, winning 5-4 thanks to keeper Fabiano who saved two penalties.

Omonia Nicosia captains Jordi Gomez, Fotis Papoulis and Ioannis Kousoulos lifting the Cyprus Cup. Kousoulos had been injured throughout the season, while Gomez was out for six months. Photo Savvides

The cup victory means Omonia will participate in European qualifiers next season and could even meet up with Scottish Premiership side Hearts.

Omonia launches their European campaign from the playoffs for the Europa League group stage.

If they should lose, the club will go to the group stages of the Europa Conference League.

Each team that makes it to the UEFA Europa League group stage will earn €3.63 mln.

Teams in the group stage will win €630,000 per match victory and €210,000 per match drawn.

Making it to the Europa Conference Group stage will generate €2.94 mln.

A team winning a group stage fixture in the UEFA Europa Conference League gets €500,000, while a draw means contesting teams earn €166,000 each.

Omonia’s budget is estimated to be around €8 mln.

Lennon had two stints in charge at Celtic, winning an overall ten trophies – but left after his ten-in-a-row bid failed.

Since February last year, he has been out of the game as he decided to take a break from coaching.

As a player, Neil Lennon made 305 appearances for Celtic, winning five league titles, four Scottish cups, two League cups, and in 2003 reached the UEFA Cup final.

He also played for Leicester City, Manchester City, and the Northern Ireland national team.

Lennon will now be heading Omonia’s effort to rebuild the squad, as several players are expected to leave.