AGONA Scouting Report: Who is New Panathinaikos Striker Mark Sifneos
Panathinaikos have signed Greek-Dutch striker Mark Sifneos after much speculation in a move that will aid the squad’s low striker stocks. AGONAsport takes a look at his career to date.
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Product of Dutch Football
Sifneos was born in Amsterdam on the 24th of November, 1996. His family moved to Greece for the next few years, where they lived in Paros. However, they found themselves back in the Netherlands by the time Mark started school, as his parents wanted him to enjoy the Dutch education system and learn the game of football within the scope of the Dutch production line.
His love of the game came naturally, as with any child with an innate talent. WV-HEDW was where his first career steps were made. Following this, he was spotted by an agent, who was responsible for his move to a bigger Academy in the form of SV RAP.
Sifneos’ stocks were rapidly rising by this time and as a result, he moved to RKSV RODA ‘23 and then SV Argon, which operates as an Utrecht Academy. His natural talent became more evident to the point where he had an uncanny knack of finding the back of the net.
Breakout Season for RKC Waalwijk
Sifneos earnt a move to RKC Waalwijk and once again played a starring role for the B team, scoring 20 goals in his first season at the club. As a result, he found himself in the first team by 2016 at the tender age of 19. He made his senior debut for RKC Waalwijk on the 1st of February, 2016 in a league game against Jong PSV. This is the second tier of Dutch football, under the Eredivisie.
In total he only made 3 appearances for the first team at RKC Waalwijk. Opportunities were few and far between, and one could say it was harsh considering the success he had with the second team.
Opportunity Under Rene Meulensteen
At this point in time, Sifneos’ young career was at a crossroads. Enter Rene Meulensteen. The Dutchman is most famous for being Sir Alex Ferguson’s assistant at Manchester United for many years. He also got the chance to manage Fulham in the English Premier League for a brief period.
Meulensteen became manager of Indian Super League club Kerala Blasters in July 2017 and a month later, he opted to sign Sifneos. The Dutch manager clearly backed Sifneos’ talent as he was the youngest foreigner to ever be signed by an Indian Super League club.
Meulensteen used his Dutch connections to lure Sifneos to India and the pair worked well together. He took his game to the next level and led the line admirably for such a young player.
Sifneos went on to score 4 goals in 12 appearances for Kerala Blasters, but in January 2018 things took a turn for the worse when Meulensteen departed. New manager, former English international goalkeeper David James, did not have a spot for Sifneos as part of his plans moving forward. Consequently, the youngster departed for FC Goa on the 26th of January, 2018, where he signed until the end of the season. He scored on one occasion and made 7 appearances.
The Indian Adventure
The move to a foreign country on the other side of the world with a totally different culture (both lifestyle and football) highlights Sifneos has no fear and is ready to grasp the opportunity he is given. The move to India had nothing to do with money. He had the chance to work with Meulensteen, James, Wes Brown, and Dimitar Berbatov. Sifneos as a youngster deemed this adventure and experience of working under such footballing legends as more important than money. Granted, the Indian Super League is not known for its competitiveness. Nonetheless, the honour of achieving feats such as being the youngest foreigner to ever be signed cannot be written off. On top of this, he also received several MVP awards.
Dutch Education, Green Heart
This bodes well for Panathinaikos as Sifneos has a proven track record of not chasing the money and having a hunger for chasing the opportunity. It is in his DNA. Some say he has a “germ” called competitiveness, something instilled into him by his father at a very young age. Panathinaikos will undoubtedly be the biggest club he has played for to date in his young career. The opportunity to wear the green jersey, in the most difficult season ever in the club’s proud history will be something that drives Sifneos to succeed in the Greek Super League.
Those who know him well from the summers he used to spend at Paros, say Panathinaikos is the team of his dreams and he has been a long-term fan. He is also very good at any sport he tries and his competitiveness is evident even when he is playing PlayStation!
Playing Style and Hero Growing Up
His big body and frame (191 cm tall) makes him the ideal centre forward. He is good in the air and will win more aerial duels than he loses. In addition to this, he possesses an impressive technique and is also very good with the ball at his feet for a big man. Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of his playing style is his high work rate. This is something that would have significantly impressed Giorgos Donis and Nikos Dabizas to sign him. Fielding a weaker team in comparison to previous seasons due to the dire off-field situation the club finds itself in, may mean the Greens become more of a defensive-minded, counter-attacking team, rather than one that controls the game and takes it to the opposition. Sifneos’ size and work rate will help in this.
Like every footballer, Sifneos had his heroes when he was growing up. The forward’s first hero was iconic Brazilian striker Ronaldo.
At 21, with a fascinating career to date for a Greek in the diaspora, Panathinaikos and Sifneos represents a good match. He will be hoping to make a name for himself in a European league for the team of his dreams. Meanwhile, the Trifylli can sign an unlimited amount of Greeks under 23, as per the new transfer restrictions placed on the club for failing to obtain a licence. He is eligible to represent the Greek National Team and therefore qualifies as one of the players the club has no limits of acquiring.