Cardoso: “Our biggest motivation must be to grow”
The two respective head coaches, Miguel Cardoso and Corneliu Papura, spoke to the media ahead of the second leg of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie between AEK and Universitatea Craiova.
It will be a major shock if AEK don’t progress. Last week, the Enosis built up a healthy advantage in Romania, as Petros Mantalos and Marko Livaja both hit the target to seal a vital 2:0 victory against Universitatea Craiova. The Romanians travel to Athens looking to cause a big upset and advance to the playoffs against either Sparta Prague or Trabzonspor.
Miguel Cardoso shared his expectations for the battle:
Expectations for the second match: “First of all, before we talk about football, I want to extend my condolences to the island of Evia for the fires which have been witnessed there. Unfortunately, the fires in Greece and Portugal leave the biggest devastation in Europe. 2018 was a tragic year for both countries. Thank God, this year we have not had human losses, but there are losses concerning nature. As for the game, this will be a very different match than in Craiova. I believe that the opponents will immediately have a more aggressive attitude. From our point of view, we made an agreement in the Romanian dressing room that we will perform well in this game. Following the match in Romania, I told my players that our biggest motivation must be to grow and strive towards the top level. We shaped our objectives in the summer.”
The current level of this AEK team: “Everything which we do on the pitch depends on both us and the opponents. When things start going wrong, the players must understand how to get back on track. We need to be a united group. I believe that this team can, and will, grow a lot. I am sure that we will see a lot of good things tomorrow, because the players are showing great commitment in training. What don’t I want to see? I don’t want to see us losing the ball unnecessarily. I want the players to reduce their mistake rate. I want to see the team united in different moments of the game, being aggressive both with and without the ball. We must play well positionally in defence and attack, understanding how to create and use the spaces. We have to be strong to not concede a lot of set pieces, while using the dead-ball situations we have. We must rest with the ball instead of running without it. Basically, we have to be a clever team during the entire game. I believe that we will do this.”
Craiova boss Corneliu Papura noted the importance of capitalising on the chances which appear:
Chances of beating AEK: “We have to take advantage of the opportunities which come our way. However, at the same time, we must keep in mind that we will be playing Botosani soon in Romania. In the first game, we could have scored, but it was a bad result for us. We will try to qualify for the next phase of the tournament. We understand that we’re playing against a strong team.”