AEK boss Jimenez lavishes praise on players
AEK coach Manolo Jimenez was beaming with pride after his team clinched a place in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League following Thursday’s goalless draw at Austria Vienna, lavishing praise on his players.
AEK qualified as Group D runners-up behind AC Milan in a group which also included Croatian champions Rijeka, and the Kitrinomavri are the only Greek team left in European competition this season.
“I want to make a few comments on the work my football players are [and have been] doing; they are simply amazing,” said the 53-year-old Spaniard.
“Although in each of the games we have played we have been missing many senior players, they have just got on with it and made a huge effort to get the team through,” he added.
“I think that with the two clear chances we had in the first half we could have put the game to bed; Austria never stopped working, they are a strong opponent, but even though we were anxious right up until the end we were in control.”
AEK, who ended the group stage undefeated after claiming five draws and one win, now go into the Round of 32 draw on December 11 as a European journey which started back in July continues.
Greece midfielder Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, who has been one of the team’s most consistent performers this season, declared that the current crop of players is maturing significantly together.
“Today was the culmination of all the effort we have put into this competition this season,” he said.
“We said it would be incredible to finish the group undefeated and we’ve done that. Not only that, but we have also taken points from the team that finished in first place, Milan,” added Lazaros.
He concluded: “The team is maturing; there are some players here with great experience who help the others and they know how to approach these kinds of matches. The coach set up the team very well, and we got the result we deserved. These are exciting times for AEK and good signs for the future.”