AEK Return to Champions League Qualifying After A 10-Year Absence
It has been 10 years since AEK last took part in UEFA Champions League qualifying and with their first place finish in the Superleague playoffs, the Kitrinomavri will look to qualify for the glorious group stages for the first time since the 2006/07 season.
It was September 3, 2007 when the Champions League anthem was last heard at the OAKA Stadium (for AEK) with AEK playing host to Sevilla in the second leg of the final qualifying round. It was a time where tragic fires made headlines in Greece and the recent death of Sevilla's Antonio Puerta had cast a dark shadow over the game, which took place on a one week delay. In that match, AEK fell 1-4 and failed to qualify for the Champions League group stages.
AEK’s line-up for that match included: Rivaldo, Christos Bourbos, Julio Cesar (Charilaos Pappas), captain Nikos Lymberopoulos, Gustavo Manduca, Moretto (GK), Tamandani Nsaliwa (Daniel Tozser), Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Geraldo Alves, Edson Ramos Silva, and Akis Zikos (Michalis Pavlis)
A 10-year Champions League wait has come to an end for AEK as they claimed top spot in the Superleague playoffs for the first time in club history and will return to the Champions League qualifying rounds.
Manolo Jimenez’s team have an extremely difficult and almost impossible task of advancing to the Champions League group stages, however AEK’s participation in the Champions League qualifying rounds seals their return to Europe’s premier club stage. This comes after financial troubles hit the club in recent years where only a few seasons ago, the Kitrinomavri competed in the semi-professional Greek Third Division.