Europa League: Aberdeen underdogs against Apollon Limassol - Georgios Efrem

Apollon striker Andre Schembri in action for Malta against England
Malta striker Andre Schembri (left) has made a goalscoring start for Apollon

Aberdeen face a stern test when they take on Apollon Limassol in Europa League qualifying, says former Dundee and Rangers winger Georgios Efrem.

The 28-year-old, who was a youth at Arsenal, has faced Apollon playing for Cypriot champions APOEL of Nicosia.

And he views Apollon as an improving side, pointing out that they have won the Cypriot Cup two years running.

"I think Apollon have a better chance, maybe 60-40 over Aberdeen," he told BBC Scotland.

"Apollon is typically the third or fourth best club in Cyprus behind the likes of APOEL and Omonia, but the last few years, they are very high.

"They have won the cup and are finishing stronger all the time - very close to APOEL.

"Apollon is a very good team at the moment and it will be quite hard for Aberdeen, especially in Cyprus."

Efrem spent two years with Rangers after leaving Arsenal and, after failing to make a first-team breakthrough, spent half a season on loan with Dundee, playing eight times and scoring twice as the Dark Blues finished fourth in Scotland's second tier.

APOEL's Georgios Efrem celebrates against Omonia Nicosia
Georgios Efrem won the title three years in succession with APOEL

He thinks that, although Scottish domestic football has the physical edge over the set-up in Cyprus, the technique on show is not so good.

"The standard, quality-wise, might be better than Scotland, but it is tougher in Scotland," said Efrem, who has 36 caps for Cyprus.

"When I was there, only two or three teams were of a high standard, quality-wise, for me.

"The rest of the teams, it was more about the toughness of the game and the speed of the game.

"When I was there, Celtic and Rangers were the best teams and another one was Hearts."

Apollon finished third in the Cypriot First Division last season, one point behind AEK Larnaca and five adrift of APOEL, who were denied a league and cup double with a 1-0 defeat in the national knock-out final.

Aberdeen's third qualifying round opponents have since added Andre Schembri, the 31-year-old Malta international who terminated his contract with Portuguese top-flight outfit Boavista.

The striker repaid them with a goal in both legs of their 5-1 aggregate win over Zaria Balti of Moldova, with 33-year-old midfielder Alex da Silva chipping in with a double of his own from the penalty spot.

Efrem views those two, plus striker Anton Maglica, a 25-year-old former Croatia Under-21 cap, as Apollon's main threats.

Georgios Efrem in Dundee colours
Georgios Efrem spent six months on loan to Dundee from Rangers

"From the middle to the front, they have some good players," he said of the side coached by former Cyprus goalkeeper Sofronis Avgousti.

"One is Alex da Silva. He is a Brazilian with a lot of technique and keeps the ball well and has a very strong shot.

"And they have one or two good strikers, very good goalscorers.

"One is Schembre and the other is Maglica, but it is more like a team because they are together the last two or three years they have good team spirit and they know each other and what the coach wants.

"They are quite an attacking team, but they are compact."

Efrem, who left Scotland in 2009 to take up a "very good offer" with Omonia Nicosia, admits he does not know much about the current Aberdeen team but thinks the Mediterranean heat will also help Apollon.

"The past two weeks, the heat was about 42-43C, although it has now it has started to go down to 32-33C and at night will be better," he added.

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