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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 14 February 2015
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 14 FEBRUARY 2015 31 SPORT PAOK braces for comeback PAOK is hoping to use some kinder fixtures to launch a comeback and return to the top of the ladder It only just managed to keep its head above water with its match against Olympiakos, but PAOK is ready to launch a comeback thanks to a couple of easy fixtures. The Thessaloniki club will take on ninth-placed Atromitos on Monday and will take advantage of the club's coach misfortunes. Their newest coach has been in the position for just a couple of days. Its next fixture will be against Veria, slightly improved with a 1-1 draw against Atromitos but well aware it has three losses to its name recently. PAOK struggled to get the best of Olympiakos back home last week, not getting many chances to score in the 0-0 draw. The match was soured even before it began, as PAOK fans clashed with police a few hundred metres from the stadium. Police used tear gas and made seven arrests. Second-placed Panathinaikos will have an easy match ahead of them after a demoralising loss to Xanthi for the Greek Cup, taking on 17th placed OFI. They will need to use the fixture to propel them back to health before they take on Olympiakos next week. PAS Giannina is sixth, one point behind fifth Panetolikos to stake a claim for a playoff spot with its 2-1 victory at Levadiakos on Saturday. This was the eighth game in a row that the team from Ioannina has stayed undefeated, while Levadiakos parted ways with coach Savvas Pantelidis. New Greece coach: ‘I believe in the potential of Greek football’ Sergio Markarián has been appointed as the new Greek national team coach and says he has high hopes for the team Sergio Markarián of Uruguay has been named Greece's new national team coach, after the country made a disastrous start to its European Championship qualification campaign. The Hellenic Football Federation said the 70-year-old Markarian was approved for the position late this week, formally replacing Italian coach Claudio Ranieri, who was suspended after Greece lost 1-0 at home to the Faroe Islands last November. Euro 2004 talisman and the current director of the Greek national team, Giorgos Karagounis, pushed for his ap- pointment. Markarián has been selected to coach the team until the end of Greece's UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying campaign, with the contract to be automatically extended until July 2016 if he succeeds in steering Greece to the finals in France. He said being appointed as national team coach is a "great honour" but knows it will be an uphill battle. "We have a tough task ahead, but I believe in my ability and in the potential of Greek football," he said. "We will all do our best to achieve our aims, starting No hesitation to take on World Cup winners Ange Postecoglou revealed he PAOK failed to score against Olympiakos last week. Socceroos skyrocket, Greece languishes The newest FIFA rankings see Australia enter the top 70, while Greece moves out of the top 20 Thanks to the Asian Cup title, the Socceroos have shot up 37 places to 63 in the newest FIFA world rankings, bringing the national team back from its record lows. Greece, on the other hand, can't be happy, shifting down six points to 24 after abysmal results in the Euro 2016 qualifying rounds. The results cost Claudio Ranieri his job as coach after he lost the trust of the Greek Football Federation. Newly appointed coach Sergio Markarian has restored some hope, but it's still early days. The world's top three remain unchanged, with Germany holding its spot more than six months after its World Cup win. World Cup finalists Argentina and Colombia sit second and third, with Belgium and The Netherlands behind in fourth and fifth. After years at the top, Spain has dropped to tenth, while Ivory Coast, crowned Africa Cup of Nations champions this month, moved up eight places to 20th. accepted Germany’s friendly offer whilst the Socceroos were having their worstever run Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou revealed this week that even at the Socceroos worst, he never lost faith in his philosophy and the team. During the worst spell the Socceroos ever had, Postecoglou accepted the offer to take on World Cup winners Germany in a friendly, a feat not many head coaches would even consider. "They came to us and I couldn't agree quickly enough. This was in the midst of the worst run we were having. People were scratching their heads as to why I'd choose to play the world champions if we were having a bad run," he said. "But I believed January would go well and because January did go well, it's a great meas- Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou took a huge risk in booking the Germany friendly. PHOTO: AAP/LUKAS COCH. ure for us. They're the best in the world and we want to find out where we're at." With the Germany fixture to be played on March 25 in Kaiserslautern, the Socceroos have about a month to get themselves into the headspace of taking on the world's best. Postecoglou hopes to arrange another match during the international window next month to get a better grasp on his starting line. "Hopefully it'll be a really good camp, because it's the last time we'll be together before the World Cup qualifiers start," Postecoglou said. Sergio Markarián takes over. PHOTO: AP/VICTOR R. CAIVANO. with our upcoming encounter in Hungary." Markarian, who has also coached the national teams of Peru and Paraguay, is well known to Greek fans, having spent six years at the helm of clubs Panathinaikos, Ionikos and Iraklis. He impressed by learning the language and winning over his players, showing great tactical awareness. Greece, which reached the second round of the World Cup in Brazil, is currently bottom of Group F in Euro qualifying with a point from four matches and travels to Hungary on March 29. Source: AP, UEFA Second division causing Cup upsets We could be seeing three second division teams in the semifinals of the Cup GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS The Greek Cup has the unprecedented prospect of seeing three second-division teams in the semi-finals, as the first-leg quarter-final games on this week - including the 1-1 draw between Olympiakos and AEK - have pointed to a most unusual last-four line-up. An entertaining derby straight out of the best tradition of matches between the Reds and the Yellows produced a rather unexpected result at the Karaiskakis Stadium, as champion Olympiakos could only draw with second-division leader AEK, that led in the first half via Christos Aravidis before the host equalised in the second half through Luka Milivojevic. The return leg at the Olympic Stadium of Athens ap- pears very appetising, with AEK expecting at least 50,000 fans on March 4 or 5. Another former Super League club, Iraklis, performed an upset over topflight Panionios with a 2-0 win in Thessaloniki, while the second division is guaranteed a spot in the semis from the Hania vs Apollon Smyrnis pair. The two teams drew 1-1 in the first leg at Hania. In the only tie involving two Super league teams, OFI Crete led 1-0 at Iraklio but Xanthi grabbed a precious equaliser that makes it the favourite ahead of the second leg in Thrace. Happy chaps. AEK players after their 1-1 draw with Olympiakos.
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