An update on Henning Berg and Omonoia


Transitional periods never run smoothly as Henning Berg and his Omonoia side are starting to realise.

A surprise 2-1 defeat at Pafos was followed by another shock result, drawing 1-1 against local rivals and third from bottom Olympiacos Nicosia.

Berg told Omonoia’s official YouTube channel: “We didn’t have a good performance against Olympiacos and we have to get back to the level we have been playing at, and I’m sure we will”.

Truth be told, Omonoia played with much more verve, creativity and excitement in the loss at Pafos. It was a laboured and sloppy showing at home to Olympiacos, although the manner in which the goals were conceded in both games appears to be a common theme this season. Berg said: “We have to be strong defensively” – and he’s right. The winner for Pafos and leveller for Olympiacos stemmed from individual errors at the back; ball watching, not tracking the runner and a lack of intensity to win the ball back.

Omonoia’s movement in the final third is easy on the eye and whilst the creative attack minded players are carving out opportunities for Matt Derbyshire, Berg encourages his full backs to push forward and even spread the play out wide or hit diagonal balls and stretch the game. However, breaking a low block appears to be a bit of an issue. Against Olympiacos, Omonoia were limited to half chances, whilst at Pafos they were wasteful in front of goal. Berg is in no way oblivious to this, saying: “We have to use the ball well, create chances and score goals”.

Some in the press have criticised Berg’s tactical changes in key areas, notably his decision to move Thiago onto the left hand side in the second half against Olympiakos – an experiment that failed as the player isn’t suited at all to that position. Others have dug out Berg for the timing of substitutions and also his “lack of ideas in the final third”. Just goes to show how quick the press in Cyprus can turn on a manager. Three weeks ago there was talk of Omonoia being title contenders. Now they have a head coach who “doesn’t trust his squad”. Baffling.

To add insult to injury, on loan goalkeeper Francis Uzoho sustained a serious knee injury in Nigeria’s 1-1 draw against Brazil, ruling him out between 6-9 months. With Uzoho sidelined, Omonoia moved swiftly to sign Brazilian goalkeeper Fabiano on a free. Having played for Fenerbache and Porto, the 31-year-old has enough experience to cope in Cyprus. Whether or not he settles and performs to the standard Berg expects is the real test.

Omonoia’s next test is an away trip to fifth placed Ethnikos Achnas; a potential banana skin given the hosts trail Omonoia by a point.

Champions APOEL have three games in hand over Omonoia and have won their opening four, which puts them level with the Tryfili on 12 points. Thomas Doll’s men face Temur Ketsbaia’s table topping Anorthosis at the weekend where a win will sit the 28-time champions back on top of the perch.


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