As the Cypriot league divides at the close of February, attention shifts to the top 6 teams competing for the title and European berths, while the remaining 8 teams fight to secure their place in the league. However, some teams find themselves with little at stake beyond pride, resulting in matches that lack significance.

Despite the declining interest in Group B, as evidenced by decreasing attendance numbers (Karmiotissa’s home match against Doxa on April 13th only had 69 tickets sold), many players are striving to make an impression on their current clubs or attract attention from scouts as their contracts near expiration at the season’s end.

Below is a summary of players from Group B teams whose contracts are set to expire in the summer and have consistently impressed throughout the season.

Godswill Ekpolo, 28, Defender, Apollon Limassol

Signed in January 2023 from Norrkoping, the former Barcelona academy defender featured for the full 90 minutes in 23 out of Apollon’s 26 regular season games. Despite Apollon’s struggles including three managerial changes, poor results and supporter unrest, Ekpolo has undeniably stood out as one of the team’s most dependable players.

Alongside his notable defensive performances, Ekpolo has also been a menace during set pieces, capitalising on opportunities in the box to contribute to goals, tallying up 4 goal involvements – 2 goals, including a powerful header against APOEL, and 2 assists.

Djalma, 29, Defender, AEL Limassol

Despite all the challenges faced by AEL both on and off the pitch, Djalma has emerged as the club’s most dependable and consistent player over the past two years. Joining from Bahia in 2022, Djalma embodies the quintessential Brazilian full-back qualities: dynamic, robust, attack-minded, and adept at dead ball situations.

His tally of three goals, including one from an improbable angle against Nea Salamina, along with three assists, is particularly noteworthy considering AEL’s turbulent campaign.

Marios Ilia, 27, Striker, Ethnikos Achna

Ilia’s return to the Protathlima as an Ethnikos player has been nothing short of remarkable. Five goals in Ethnikos’ opening 5 games silenced doubters who labelled his loan stint at APOEL last season as a failure.

With a total of seventeen goals in 36 games for a team that was expected to struggle against relegation, Ilia’s achievement is truly impressive. His exclusion from the national team’s starting lineup becomes even more perplexing in light of this performances.

A January move to Omonoia fell through as both Omonoia and Ethnikos failed to reach an agreement on the transfer fee. However, with Ilia set to become a free agent in the summer*, the prospect of him joining a larger club is increasingly likely.

Alex Spoljaric, 28, Goalkeeper, Karmiotissa

Spoljaric joined Karmiotissa in 2022 amidst the onset of a tumultuous period at the club. Since his arrival, the team has seen a revolving door of eleven head coaches, resulting in inconsistent playing time and stability for the former Nea Salamina and Aris Limassol player.

In the summer of 2023, Karmiotissa announced the signings of goalkeepers Daniel Antosch and Giannis Anestis, further diminishing Spoljaric’s opportunities. However, the appointment of head coach Marios Charalampous in March revitalised Spoljaric’s prospects. He made a significant impact by starting in the match against Doxa on March 2nd, which Karmiotissa won 4-1. Spoljaric has since demonstrated his value, starting in the following 7 Group B games and securing 4 clean sheets.

Despite his limited playing time, Spoljaric’s ambitions for the national team remain unaffected, as evidenced by his inclusion in Ketsbaia’s squad selection for the European Championships Qualifier against Scotland in March 2023. Without a doubt, Spoljaric possesses the caliber to excel at an elevated tier of play and secure the number 1 shirt for the national team.

Martin Slogar, 23, Winger, AEZ Zakakiou

Despite AEZ’s brief return to the Protathlima, lasting only one season, there are some silver linings to be found in an otherwise disappointing campaign – notably, the acquisition of Martin Slogar from Aris Limassol during the summer.

The former Dynamo Zagreb academy winger has proven to be a significant challenge for opposing defenses this season, showcasing his tenacity, diagonal runs, and trickery on the field. His contributions of five goals and four assists for a team contending with relegation for six months have not gone unnoticed. Slogar undoubtedly represents a promising prospect for the future.

*Ethnikos’ press officer Marios Mitsidis has since informed the media that Ilias’ contract expires in 2025.