Not the greatest of days for a football match in Athens today thanks to what appeared to be a pretty nasty storm. I heard it was bad but it wasn’t until I watched the highlights that I realized just how bad… Thunder, pouring rain, and some decent sized chunks of hail falling from the sky.
As result of the weather, the match was delayed but it did eventually get under way. Unfortunately for our players, the downpour that had occurred earlier left the field, leading to yet another match played in less than ideal conditions.
There were some rather frightening moments in the first half as Panaigialeos came close to scoring on a couple of opportunities, though keeper Anestis was thankfully in form today. Despite the water clogged pitch, we did eventually manage to score before the half, with Aravidis heading in a Mantalos free kick. A number of other close chances for us were had before the first 45 minutes, but the half came to an end 1-0 in our favour.
Our second goal came in the 66th minute, again an Aravidis header though off of a nicely placed cross into the box by Soleidis. 20 minutes later, Aravidis, who had been in fine form all match, finished off his Hat trick with a lovely one time shot from just inside the box.
AEK365’s critique of the players varied significantly with three players (Lambropoulos, Sarris, and Johansson) receiving a rating of 6 out of 10. Unlike previous matches, it seems our defense, or our two centre backs at least, were not in their best form today. I suppose the condition of the pitch couldn’t have helped, though they made a few significant mistakes from what I saw in the highlights.
Three players on the other hand received rather high ratings, with Anestis, Soleidis, and Aravidis receiving 8, 8, and 9 respectively. Judging from what I could see in the highlights, the favorable ratings were well justified.
I suppose at least partly as a result of the weather, our attendance was unfortunately quite low, though I would personally like to point out the supportive gesture by the travelling Panaigialeos fans, who placed a large banner from their stands calling for an AEK stadium in Nea Filadelfia. Certainly nice to see, and from what I could gather the gesture was received enthusiastically by AEK’s supporters.
The standings in the league after today’s match are quite comforting as we are now 9 points ahead of Panachaiki (who have played a game less). I hadn’t realized this at first, but its actually pretty important that we finish with as many points as possible seeing the difference between us and whoever is in 3rd place determines how many points we start with in the playoffs.
I’m not sure how many of you had been following Greece’s election yesterday and over the past few weeks, but the result from yesterday doesn’t put AEK in a comfortable place. I’m not sure how the new Syriza coalition government will benefit the country, and whether it will be in a move in the right or wrong direction (though I guess realistically its hard to get any worse than how things were before yesterday), but as many of you already know, Syriza are quite against AEK’s proposed stadium.
The reason behind them being against the stadium is apparently mainly due to the fact that we’ve requested permission to cut down some trees along side the stadium grounds (reports I’ve seen have suggested the number of trees to be cut down will be as low as 15). I would like to make it clear that I appreciate the fact there are very few green spaces left in Athens, and the city, municipalities, and people need to do as much as they can to ensure what is left remains. I really do. When I lived in Athens, I took part in a number of tree plantings on Pendeli myself, and when I went walking and hiking on Pendeli, Parnitha, and Imittos, I saw firshand the destruction humans had caused to the trees that are so vital to keeping Athens a healthy place.
However, Melissanidis has agreed to replanting 200 trees elsewhere in Athens to make up for what would need to be taken down, and I believe either the environment for Athens, or the environment minister for Greece had already approved the plan. Still, however, Syriza and the Syriza backed mayor of Nea Filadelfia refuse to allow the stadium construction to go ahead.
I don’t know. We aren’t tearing down historically significant sites (for anyone who has seen the land where our stadium once was, you would remember how the place is literally a pit of dirt in the middle of Athens). Perhaps if the plans were to build a boutique hotel, or luxury shopping mall, I could understand some opposition. Instead, this is what AEK wants to bring to Nea Filadelfia:
-A high quality stadium, something which Greece desperately needs, especially if we are ever to host a Euro.
-A museum dedicated to the refugees from Asia Minor, something which will benefit not only the local citizens, but also visitors from all of Greece and abroad.
-A path, also dedicated to the refugees, from Iralkeio metro station (I believe its the Irakleio station, but I could be wrong).
-Jobs, not only during the construction, but also once the stadium is built.
-An attraction to help bring life back to Nea Filadelfia and hopefully revitalize the surrounding park which has, unfortunately, become rather neglected over the years and only a shadow of what it once was.
What we have is an owner who is willing to invest the money in something that will benefit AEK, its supporters, the residents of Nea Filadelfia, and Greece in general. How often does a country in such poor economic shape as Greece is in right now get someone willing to invest in something like this? Normally, an opportunity for the area and the country like this would never happen with the economy being the way it is, yet now that the opportunity has finally come, a few individuals seem determined to make sure it never happens. I feel hesitant to support a party which refuses to allow an opportunity that would only benefit the country. I try, and I try, but I fail to see how this stadium is bad thing for the country and Nea Filadelfia.
Who knows what will happen…