Martins focused, Khatskevich praises Olympiacos

Martins focused, Khatskevich praises Olympiacos

Olympiacos head coach Pedro Martins is purely focused on achieving a positive result in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, while Dynamo Kyiv boss Alyaksandr Khatskevich was full of praise for the opponents.

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Tomorrow, Olympiacos host Dynamo Kyiv at the Karaiskakis Stadium, looking to build up an advantage in the Last 32 of the UEFA Europa League ahead of the second leg in Ukraine next week. Coming into the match, the Greeks are hoping for a response after losing to PAOK at the weekend, while this will be Dynamo’s first official game after the long Ukrainian winter break.

In his press-conference, Pedro Martins shared his expectations for the tie:

Factor of losing at the weekend: “It’s key that we have such an important match ahead of us. Since June, we have been creating this team, and we’re aiming to continue developing. We need to concentrate on tomorrow’s game and forget about what happened on Sunday. Our objective is to play at our best. The fact that we’re playing at the Karaiskakis Stadium with our fans’ backing is a positive aspect and we need to use their support effectively. We must correct the mistakes made in the last match and do everything in order to achieve a good result.”

Importance of tomorrow’s match in terms of qualification: “At this stage of the competition, qualification is achieved over the course of the two matches, not just one. Therefore, even if we win tomorrow, we cannot say that we’ve qualified for the next round. We will play against a very strong team which is full of international footballers. We want to build up an advantage tomorrow.”

Possibility of Omar Elabdellaoui and Konstantinos Fortounis playing: “Omar won’t play, but Fortounis will. His treatment went well, he trained today, and I think he’ll be ready to play tomorrow.”

Knowledge on Dynamo Kyiv: “We have a general idea of what they will offer on the pitch. They haven’t played an official match for a while, but we’ve analysed a lot of their games. Dynamo have competed in seven friendlies over the past 20 days and we understand how they play. They have the same coach and players, with the exception of two new signings. We know their style of play and the break in the Ukrainian championship hasn’t affected them.”

Tough schedule with game against AEK approaching: “Right now, all of our thoughts are connected with tomorrow’s match. We are concentrated on this game. When the match against Dynamo Kyiv, we will then begin to think about the upcoming game on Sunday. Nevertheless, at the moment, we are focused on playing Dynamo because it’s a very important match for us.”

Reaction after playing PAOK: “We certainly expect a reaction from our guys. The players in our team are very committed to achieving our goals. This season, we’re the only Greek team remaining in European competition, and we know that it’s very important for our fans for Olympiacos to continue playing in Europe. Even in the difficult moments, we can respond in the right way. We are confident that we will have the correct response.”

Dynamo Kyiv manager Alyaksandr Khatskevich revealed that he thinks Olympiacos have the best team in Greece:

Factor of Dynamo Kyiv being considered favourites for the tie by the Ukrainian press: “At this moment in time, I think that Olympiacos is the strongest team in Greece. Their organisation is the best in the country. They play aggressively both in defence and attack, no matter if they are playing at home or on the road. We played AEK last year? This time, we will have five new players in the squad who haven’t competed at this level before. Yes, the fans will apply pressure on us, however we have to be fully concentrated for the 90 minutes.”

Satisfaction with the winter training camp: “Having only played friendly matches, it’s hard to tell. We stuck to our training plan. Tomorrow, this match will show how well we’ve been training in the winter.”

Psychological state of Olympiacos after losing to PAOK: “I can’t speak about how they feel psychologically, only the opposing coach can answer that question. We did watch that game with PAOK as a group. It was an important match for them, but it’s part of our job to forget about disappointing results and move on. The Europa League is a completely different tournament. Will Olympiacos make changes? That’s their decision. I cannot say anything about that.”

Injury problems: “Vitor Bueno definitely won’t play, he is training according to his own individual program. Tamas Kadar will train with us today and then we’ll make a decision as to whether he can play.”

Dnipro beat Olympiacos four years on their way to the final: “Our overall goal is to win the competition. If you don’t have those targets, what’s the point in participating?

Signing of forward Fran Sol: “I am totally satisfied with his efforts. Yes, it would have been perfect for his confidence had he scored in friendly matches, but I’m hoping that he’ll score his first goal for Dynamo tomorrow. We have players capable of dishing out the final pass.”


by Shaun Nicolaides

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