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Clubs prepare for footballing miracle

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After this season’s success, Cyprus football hopes for another profitable year in Europe, with AEK Larnaca reaching the last 16 in the Europa Conference League and another two teams in the group stages.

Despite Cypriot teams doing well in this season’s European campaigns, Cyprus will only have four representatives in three competitions due to organisational changes made by governing authority UEFA.

Cyprus will be represented by league winners Aris Limassol in the Champions League.

Their fans were intoxicated from the club’s first major success as they grabbed the title for the first time in their 93-year history.

Cup winners Omonia Nicosia, league runner-up APOEL Nicosia and AEK Larnaca have earned a ticket for the third-tier Europa Conference League.

All teams will launch their campaigns from the second qualification stage of their tournaments.

Aris Limassol kick-off their European campaign from the third preliminary round of the Champions League.

It is only the second time the Limassol outfit is playing in Europe, after entering last season’s Conference League only to be knocked out in the first preliminary round by Azerbaijan’s Neftchi Baku.

As Aris did not earn any points in a European contest so far, it is participating with a national ranking of 4,895 points.

This means that they will be unseeded, going up against tougher sides.

However, they get three chances to reach at least the group stage of a European tournament.

Prize money

Should they pull off at least one qualification, Aris will find themselves in the group stage of the Conference League, earning a minimum of €2.94 mln.

A team winning a group stage fixture in the UEFA Europa Conference League gets €500,000, while a draw earns €166,000.

Qualifying for the UEFA Europa League group stage sees each team earning €3.63 mln.

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

Should Aris make it to the Champions League Playoffs, one step before the CL group stage, the club will bank an additional €5 mln.

In the best-case scenario, in which Aris makes it to the CL group stage, they will receive a minimum of €15.64 mln.

The other three starting their journey from the second preliminary round of the Europa Conference League will need three qualifications to make it to the Europa Conference League.

During the 2022-2023 season, AEK Larnaca had a successful run in the Europa Conference League, where it was knocked out by Premier League finalists West Ham United.

AEK banked an estimated €6 mln from their European endeavours this season.

Omonia Nicosia put up a fight in the Europa League group stage this season against the likes of Premier League giants Manchester United (with Ronaldo) and Spain’s Real Sociedad.

Last season’s champions, Apollon Limassol, made it to the group stage of the Europa Conference League, where it came close to securing a spot in the final 32.

A fourth team representing Cyprus in European football last season, APOEL Nicosia, was left out of the Conference League group stage, losing 5-3 on aggregate against Sweden’s Djurgårdens IF.