Kostenoglou: “We have to play with faith”
The two respective coaches, Nikos Kostenoglou and Unal Karaman, shared their expectations for the second leg of the UEFA Europa League playoff tie between AEK and Trabzonspor in Turkey.
AEK require a miracle to somehow turn the tie around. In Athens, the Greeks endured a nightmare at the empty Olympic Stadium, conceding three goals from Caleb Ekuban after Marko Livaja had initially given them the lead. However, Portuguese manager Miguel Cardoso has since received the sack, and it remains to be seen how AEK respond on Thursday evening in Trabzon.
Interim coach Nikos Kostenoglou spoke at the press-conference:
Becoming the interim head coach: “I would like to thank Mr. Melissanidis for his trust. I have been working with the club for a long time, I understand this organisation. I am prepared to help in a moment of need. An unexpected situation arose. Mr. Melissanidis is used to making timely decisions. He asked me to help the team.”
Chances of AEK qualifying with a dramatic comeback: “The outcome of the first game has minimized the chances of qualifying for the next phase. However, we must have faith. Faith always wins. We can overturn this deficit. In order to achieve this, we have to play with dedication, discipline and a strategy. Logic suggests that it isn’t possible to qualify, but we will see tomorrow if we can beat logic.”
Changes AEK will make on Thursday: “We must perform better than in previous matches. Taking into account that we have only had two training sessions together, this will be difficult. Nevertheless, unexpected things can happen in football, and I want to see a team with a different mindset, level of discipline and approach. We musn’t think that we’ve just come here to play the second leg of a tie which has already been decided.”
Trabzonspor boss Unal Karaman isn’t willing to write AEK off:
Approach for the second leg in Trabzon: “Psychologically we feel good for this game, especially taking into account our recent run of form. Yes, we have an advantage, but they are capable of doing what we did to them in Athens. We will play with the same seriousness and discipline. We have the lead in the tie, but nothing is over yet. It will be a difficult game.”
AEK coaching change: “We can’t read their minds. There will probably be changes to their game. This is a perfectly normal situation. We know that AEK try to play good football, and we will see tomorrow if the coaching change has had a positive effect or not. If we play to our level with the support of our fans, I believe we will qualify.”