A Fine Weekend To Be AEK

So, just a little over a week after we won our first Cup in so many years (despite the rather depressing events which followed after the match), us AEK fans were treated to yet another pleasing weekend. This time, however, the attention was not only on our football team, but also our Handball guys, a group of players who have fought hard and gave everything they had to offer to the club for the past three years. Saturday afternoon, our players took on PAOK in Thesaloniki, a match which was a must win if they wanted to claim the Championship. And, as is the norm recently, AEK emerged victorious over our rivals from the North. That’s right folks, only six years after our handball club was formed, we, for the first time in our history, are champions of Greece!

I went to wait for the players last night in Nea Filadelfia along with thousands of other AEK supporters and though the bus’ arrival was delayed by AEK fans from all over Greece (almost literally, as the bus had to make numerous stops on its way down so supporters could congratulate the players), the players received a reception that only true Champions deserve! It wasn’t until about 2:30 in the morning that the bus arrived in Filadelfia, along with a caravan of motorcycles and flares from fans who greeted the bus at the tolls outside Athens, but the celebrations were phenomenal. The entire street outside the offices of the Amateur division of AEK which runs the handball club was blocked off by bon fires and thousands of AEK fans who sang non stop for the entire hour or so that I was there after the bus arrived (and they were still singing when I left at 3:30) while the players were on the balcony of the offices with the trophy, joining in the celebrations as well. And I’ll tell everyone reading this post one thing: These players on our handball teams are true AEK supporters, people who love the club as much as we do! I hope they, along with us, will always remember this day, as it was a true celebration of what it means to be AEK!

As for the match itself, it was close, very close. We managed to take a firm lead quite early in the game thanks to some fantastic attacking, however PAOK slowly managed to cut back the lead as the match progressed. Towards the end, however, PAOK actually managed to take the lead, and with only 15 seconds left, they were leading 22-21. However, AEK, who refused to give up, managed to tie the game up at 22-22- with only seven seconds left before the one and only Christoforos Bakaoukas scored the game winning goal to clinch the Championship! I honestly can’t think of a better way to win the championship than by beating PAOK in their own home in such a way. If you watch the video below, you even see the PAOK fans calling their players champions as they were so sure the win was theirs.

So, on to football. We started the game (at the lovely time of 9:45 on a Sunday night) knowing PAOK had beaten PAO 2-1 in Toumba, meaning a win for us would bring us to first place in the playoffs. I’m not sure if this was what the players were thinking, or maybe they were inspired by their cup win last weekend, but they came out strong and seemed intent on showing no mercy to the scum team from Volos. Lovely passing football and complete control of the match was all we saw from AEK from the first 10 minutes or so, with Leonardo playing a very active role in the match from early on. For the most part, our positioning was superb and the players were really gelling well together, with Leonardo forcing the ball into the box with his runs and Michel distributing superbly.

As the game progressed the tempo did drop slightly, though Olympiakos Volou rarely managed to gain much of an upperhand. Having said that, and despite the pressure we were applying, we still urgently needed a goal. Sure, we were playing some attractive football, and the players were clearly doing things right, but in front of the net we were simply not good enough for much of the match. The fact that our only goal of the match came from a penalty is an obvious indicator of this. However, I feel its too early to worry. We were creating chances, we came very close on a number of times and even hit the cross bar on one occasion, and with a bit more confidence and decisiveness in front of goal, we shouldn’t have as much of a hard time scoring in our upcoming matches.

And while I’m on the topic of scoring (or lack of), I feel obliged to bring up a certain player by the name of Nabil Baha. USELESS. He could hardly run after the first half, was clearly not match fit (or possibly just lazy), and missed two clear goalscoring opportunities (opportunities which Blanco would have had no problem scoring). I thank Baha for his goal in the Cup final, but the guy cannot play for us anymore. What Jimenez sees in him I will never know, but I really hope to see Blanco start the next match instead of him.

As for the rest of our players, a handful in my opinion deserve much credit. Dellas, Manolas, Georgeas, Michel, and Diop all played vital roles in our win today. Dellas brings experience to our team that very few players could provide while Manolas alongside him at centre back was simply solid in defending. Georgeas, though he may have been slightly sloppy at times, provided another dimension to our play down the right flank and, as always, defended with passion. Diop was simply solid at the back, providing cover for our defenders and midfielders. Also may have been sloppy and careless at times, but he still manages to hold on to the ball well, win it back when we lose it, and is always moving, always looking to do something, whether it be winning the ball back or providing cover for a player. Michel also provided a vital role today as his ball distribution was by far the best of anyone else today. He may not have played many fancy defense ripping through balls like Rivaldo, but his passes were always calculated and well placed.

Unfortunately, Libe was forced to leave the match as he picked up an injury. I have no idea at the moment how serious it is, or if he will be ready for the next match, however I truly hope we will be match fit by next Thursday as we will definitely be lacking without him up front.

So, not sure what else should be mentioned. First place in the playoffs and it looks like were heading in the right direction if we want to reach Champions League qualification. PAO were simply dreadful in their game with PAOK, so to be honest, I’m kind of looking forward to our game with them on Thursday because I’m confident we can get a win if we play solid.

Its getting late here, so tomorrow I’ll upload some videos and pictures from the celebrations in Nea Filadelfia.

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One Response to “A Fine Weekend To Be AEK”

  1. Chris Zap Says:

    It has been a couple of interesting weekends for AEK. Congrats to the handball boys for winning the championship. All PAOK needed was a tie but AEK took it away from them with a sec left on the clock. The captain thinks he is dreaming and doesnt want to wake up. Lets win in Hania this weekend then every one will sink Elefterios Venizelos. Yes they took the plane this time and not a boat.
    Yesterday the boys received some superb news. An AEK fan from Hong Kong send 19K Euros to the boys as a bonus. He stayed up late to watch the game. The boys couldnt believe it. We, AEK fans leaving abroad feel more for the team than the AEK fans leaving in Athens. This gesture was all over the greek sites yesterday, the radio, and even this AM it was mentioned on the sports news coverage. I havent heard of any rich greek tycoon leaving here in Athens performing such a gesture. And there are plenty of rich AEK fans here. AEK pandou (AEK every where). I only came across one Greek last name while leaving in Hong Kong in the 90s. This fellow went by the name of Dimitri, so we are not sure who he really is. The joke going around here is that it was Melisanidis, good joke 😉

    As for the football team, we appealed the fine but they only reduced the amount from 292K euros to 210K. So i guess last Sunday was the last AEK game we saw for the season and the last one for me for a long time since I am leaving Athens late August. So, there you go, 500K euros down the drain, at least.

    Adamidis gave a press conference on Tuesday. He didnt really say a heck of a lot that we didnt really knew already. He started off with the BDO audit. He went over discussing Demis and Thanopoulos management skills. Especially talked about Demis’ generosity towards certain people. Amazing how easily one can spend money when they havent earned it from their own sweat. I am not going to go over the details. Those that can read Greek its all here http://www.aek365.gr/a-119602/ta-perierga-shmeia-tou-diaxeiristikou.htm They are thinking of trying to get some of that money back via legal means.

    Even the revenue from sponsors we thought was huge during the Demis golden years, as it turns out it wasnt as huge as we thought. We get more now than we did than, http://www.aek365.gr/a-119654/oi-xorhgoi-ths-aek-kai-h-entupwsh.htm

    Now, here comes the intersting chat from Adamidis. He really attacked the fans for not coming out Sunday night to cheer on the Greek cup winners and the handball team that was there. Only 5K of us was there, sure it was a late game for a Sunday night. I didnt get home till 12 and i leave close to the stadium. From what i hear, the reason people didnt come out was cause of what the fans did during the cup game. People are simply disgusted. I have to admit that it was the quietest weekend in greek football stadiums. Nothing happened when AEK beat PAOK in handball, nothing happened in Touba, and only a couple of flares were lit during the AEK game. All we heard during the AEK game was non-stop singing from the AEK fans that were there and thats the way it should be. Btw, only 8K went to PAO’s game last night, same time as our game. Super League will have to decide whether it wants fans in the stadiums or fans sitting behind couches. Obviously the times are adjusted for TV coverage and not stadium coverage.

    Anyways, Adamidis was extremely disappointed by the low turn out. He said how can AEK fans expect great things from this team when only so few come out to watch it? “They should look at themselves in the mirror” he said. One reported said perhaps the share holders should look at them selves in the mirror. They have abandoned the team and so are the fans. Adamidis was building on the main topic of his press conference. He told us the fans that there are no saviours for AEK, no Melisanidis will come to the team’s rescue, no Hatzi-ioanou, no one. He is turning to the people for help, again. Just like they did at 2004 and thousands came out and bought season tickets. But back then there was a vision, there was hope, we dont see any of that right now.

    Of course once again he was challenged by the AEK press, they asked him how do you expect the average AEK fan to come out and rescue the team when he/she is making minimum wage, maybe unemployed, huge crisis going on at the time? 150 mil were mismanaged by AEK, why should they give their money and watch some one else manage them (or not).

    Adamidis said this plan will be displayed to the people by the Supporters Club”, some time next week. They say it will be something like Barca has or Aris i believe? According to one reporter, he said it sounds like an Oligraphy (or something like that), in other words, they will take our money and they will decide with no input or voting from us. Anyways, lets wait and see what they say first before we form our opinions. I know a lot of us have a “kapsoura” towards this team and will more than likely hand over some of our hard earned money to them. However, as far as aiming for the championship, we can forget about it for the next few years. Its going to be the gavroi for quite some time to come.

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