West Ham United v AEK Larnaca - All You Need To Know

West Ham United v AEK Larnaca - All You Need To Know

West Ham United v AEK Larnaca
UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 second leg, London Stadium, Thursday 16 March 2023, 8pm GMT


West Ham United welcome AEK Larnaca to London Stadium for a UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 second leg tie on Thursday evening.

The Irons will kick-off with a 2-0 advantage after Michail Antonio's two first-half goals in Cyprus last week, and will be confident of completing the job on home turf.

The Hammers are aiming to reach a second consecutive European quarter-final after going all the way to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals last season.

Cypriot First Division side AEK have reached the knockout stages of European competition for the first time in their history.



Tickets for Thursday's tie are on General Sale now, priced from just £5 for Juniors and £15 Adults – and you can make sure of your seat at London Stadium now by clicking here or on the graphic at the bottom of this article.

Alternatively, you can purchase tickets over the phone on 0333 030 1966 or in person at the London Stadium Ticket Office.

West Ham United v AEK Larnaca - All You Need To Know


Industrial action means there will be a severely reduced service on some rail services on Thursday, with the latest trains reaching their destination by 7pm.

On Greater Anglia, hourly service will run between Norwich and London Liverpool Street; Norwich and Cambridge/Stansted Airport; Colchester and London Liverpool Street; Clacton-on-Sea and London Liverpool Street; Southminster and London Liverpool Street; Cambridge and London Liverpool Street; Hertford East and Stratford. No services will run on regional/branch lines not listed above.

Southeastern Railway services into Stratford International will also be limited and supporters will not be able to travel back to south-east London or Kent after the game, as the latest trains will reach their destination by 7pm.

c2c services will NOT be affected by industrial action.

There are no planned closures or alterations to TfL London Underground, train, tram or bus services. A Tube strike on Wednesday 15 March should not affect your travel to or from London Stadium, as services are expected to run normally on Thursday.


How to Follow...

Thursday's tie will be broadcast live in the UK by BT Sport 3, with kick-off at 8pm GMT.

You can also follow the action via our live blog on whufc.com and our app and across our social media channels. We will also have highlights and exclusive reaction for you after the final whistle.


Official Programme...

West Ham United's 116-page Official Programme for Thursday's tie with AEK Larnaca is on sale now.

With London Stadium set to host another memorable European night under the lights, we have produced a bumper issue crammed full of exclusive interviews and exciting content for fans of all ages, complete with a double-sided A3 poster.

The Irons' Official Programme is available to order online now for just £4, plus £1.49 postage and packaging*.


Team News...

Łukasz Fabiański (eye socket), Vladimír Coufal (heel) and Michail Antonio (calf) all missed Sunday’s Premier League fixture with Aston Villa.

Flynn Downes will be suspended for Thursday's tie after receiving his third booking in the competition in Cyprus.

For AEK Larnaca, two of their five-strong Spanish contingent, former Valladolid left-back Ángel García and former Girona and Alavés defensive midfielder Pere Pons, return after missing the first leg through suspension.

However, García, Serbian goalkeeper Miloš Gordić and Hungarian forward Ádám Gyurcsó have not travelled to London with the AEK squad, and Ukrainian forward Artem Hromov is not eligible.

West Ham United v AEK Larnaca - All You Need To Know


AEK Larnaca was formed just 29 years ago by the merger of two historically successful clubs, Pezoporikos and EPA Larnaca.

Founded in 1924, Pezoporikos were twice Cypriot champions and once Cypriot Cup winners while EPA were founded two years later and went on to win three Cypriot titles and five Cypriot Cups.

Each competed in Europe on three occasions, too, although they failed to win any of the 20 matches they contested in the European Cup, UEFA Cup or European Cup Winners’ Cup.

While AEK have yet to be crowned champions of Cyprus, the new club has enjoyed two Cypriot Cup successes, won 30 matches in European competition and reached the UEFA Europa League group stage on three occasions.

In truth, AEK’s success since the merger has been concentrated over the last decade, with five second-place finishes in the Cypriot First Division and Cypriot Cup and Super Cup wins over Apollon Limassol and APOEL respectively in 2018.

That decade has seen AEK take on a decidedly Spanish air, with a succession of head coaches heading across the Mediterranean Sea to settle on the island.

Following Thomas Christiansen – a Dane who played for Barcelona and Spain’s U21 side and later managed Leeds United – no fewer than six Spaniards have held the role. One, Imanol Idiakez, led AEK to the Cypriot Cup in 2018, while current head coach José Luis Oltra managed over 650 matches in his home country before being appointed in June last year.

Five clubs – AEK, Apollon, Nicosia-based pair APOEL and Omonia and Anorthosis Famagusta – have dominated football on the island for decades and, with those five runners-up finishes in the previous eight seasons, Oltra will be desperately hoping their title drought will come to an end this term.

There is a decent chance of that, too, with AEK recovering from a slow start to storm to the top of the table. With a place in the Championship round for the top six clubs already assured, Larnaca hosted Enosis Neon Paralimni – the club who play in Claret and Blue after being donated two sets of West Ham United kit by Bobby Moore in the 1960s – in their final regular-season game!

AEK’s squad, like many of Cyprus’s leading clubs, is a multinational one, with players drawn from all over Europe – from 12 different countries. While those players’ names may not be instantly recognisable to West Ham United supporters, the likes of Spaniard Ángel García, Bosnian Hrvoje Miličević, Hungarian Ádám Gyurcsó, Israeli Omri Altman and North Macedonian Ivan Trickovski are household names at the AEK Arena

Win the Cypriot First Division, UEFA Europa Conference League, or both, and they will be heroes – albeit not quite as heroic as Admiral Kimon, who appears on the club’s crest, having died while defending the city from the Persians in 450 BC.

West Ham United v AEK Larnaca - All You Need To Know

Match information…

For the first time in the UEFA Europa Conference League, video assistant refereeing (VAR) will be used in all matches from the knockout play-off round through to the final.

Each manager can name up to 12 substitutes, of whom five can be used on three occasions (plus half-time). There are no additional ‘concussion substitutes’ available in UEFA Club Competition.

A player will receive a one-match suspension if they receive three cautions. Angelo Ogbonna is on two yellow cards in the UEFA Europa Conference League and a third caution in the round of 16 would lead to a one-match suspension from the next match in the competition.

The 2022/23 UECL final will be hosted at Slavia Prague’s Fortuna Arena in the Czech Republic on 7 June.


Previous Meetings...

West Ham United met Cypriot opposition for the first time in their history last week, when they scored a 2-0 UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 first-leg win at AEK Larnaca.

Michail Antonio scored both goals in the space of ten minutes immediately before half-time, heading in Saïd Benrahma's cross before curling into the top corner from 25 yards.

West Ham United are AEK’s first-ever English opponents in European competition.


Match Officials...

Referee: Georgi Kabakov (BUL)
Assistant Referees: Martin Margaritov (BUL) & Diyan Valkov (BUL)
Fourth Official: Radoslav Gidzhenov (BUL)
VAR: Fedayi San (SUI)
Assistant VAR: Lionel Tschudi (SUI)

Thursday’s referee will be Bulgarian Georgi Kabakov.

Born in Plovdiv in February 1986, the 37-year-old became a referee at the age of 15 in 2001 and was promoted to the Bulgarian First League in 2007.

He took charge of the Bulgarian Cup final in 2020 and the Bulgarian Super Cup earlier this year.

In 2013, he became a FIFA referee. He has since officiated at the Olympic games, FIFA World Cup qualifiers and the UEFA Nations League, as well as international friendlies and matches in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League qualifiers, Europa League and Europa Conference League proper. 

He took charge of Manchester United's 1-0 Europa League group-stage win at Real Sociedad in November 2022.


UEFA Europa Conference League round of 16 tickets