New Look Panathinaikos Shows the Future is Bright
AGONAsport’s Panathinaikos contributor, Nick Tsambouniaris, talks about the bright future ahead for Panathinaikos, who have achieved a perfect two for two start in this year’s SuperLeague.
The entire outlook at Panathinaikos has changed within the space of a couple of weeks, following the impressive 1-0 away win at Xanthi and the dominant 3-1 home win over Lamia. Several Academy graduates announced themselves on the big stage with eye-catching performances and the starting side will be strengthened with the likes of Argiris Kampetsis, Nikos Vergos and a foreign striker. All this while Pairoj Piempongsant and Pan Asia are edging closer to completing their acquisition of the club.
Nikos Dabizas and Giorgos Donis have done an amazing job in the transfer window to date signing an array of young, hungry Greeks (an unlimited amount under 23 can be signed under the punishment for failing to obtain a licence to participate in the Championship). Achilleas Poungouras (23 in December), Nikos Vergos (22), Epaminondas Pantelakis (23), Ilias Chatzitheodoridis (21) and Argiris Kampetsis (19) have all joined on permanent deals, with Ergys Kace renewing his loan from PAOK. This could end up being permanent at the end of the season too.
Academy graduate Tasos Chatzigiovannis looked like a different prospect against a Xanthi side chasing shadows, playing with fellow graduates such as Giannis Bouzoukis and Dimitris Emmanouilidis. Bouzoukis scored the only goal and what a beauty it was. He also pulled the strings and allowed Chatzigiovannis and the experienced Anthony Mounier to run wild. Emmanouilidis missed two one-on-one chances to put the game beyond doubt but only served to galvanise the 17 year old and taught him to remain composed when in on goal. The proof was in the pudding with his well-taken goal against Lamia which sparked wild celebrations. The injured Omri Altman will have a hard time getting into the side if things continue.
Possessing players such as Anthony Mounier, Dimitris Kourbelis, Ousmane Coulibaly, Mattias Johansson and Vangelis Oikonomou, means the squad is not necessarily short of experience either which will hold the team in good stead moving forward. On top of this, the core is Greek which is always a great thing. Sokratis Dioudis between the sticks, the trio of centre backs and the holding midfielders are all Greek which means they subconsciously understand the weight of the shirt. More youngsters from the Academy in Theofanis Mavromatis, Konstantinos Kotsaris and Paschalis Staikos are all waiting in the wings for their chance to shine.
Now that the -6 has been overcome as quickly as possible, Donis and the team can start looking up the ladder. The international break gives Donis a chance to reflect on a great start and the ‘kids’ can rest up and go again at Larissa next game. Even though Pairoj Piempongsant is close to taking over and injecting serious money, the best way forward for the Greens is undoubtedly playing the youth.
Long-suffering fans finally have a team to love again. It is no coincidence either, with Donis a former player at the helm, knowing what Panathinaikos means. The Academy graduates understand the weight of the shirt and will give it their all in a bid to make a name for themselves at such a young age at such a big club.