Ouzounidis: “I want to improve on previous achievements”

Ouzounidis: “I want to improve on previous achievements”

New AEK Athens manager Marinos Ouzounidis held his first press-conference after his appointment at the Enosis, setting out the targets for the upcoming 2018/2019 season.

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The 49-year old, who managed Panathinaikos for the past 1.5 seasons in the Super League, was drafted into to immediately replace Manolo Jimenez when the Spaniard couldn’t reach a compromise with AEK on his salary. Taking into account AEK losing key players such as Jakob Johansson, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Sergio Araujo, the incoming Ouzounidis won’t have an easy time of it with the reigning Greek champions, but he is focused on taking the Kitrinomavri to new heights.

At his maiden press-conference as AEK boss, Ouzounidis thanked club owner Dimitris Melissanidis for showing faith in him and touched upon the goals for the 2018/2019 campaign: “First of all, I want to thank Mr. Melissanidis and AEK for the trust shown in me,” began Ouzounidis. “Together, we will do everything to achieve our goals. I wouldn’t say that it’s difficult to keep AEK at the top, for me it’s a great challenge and an opportunity to succeed.

Last year, the team did a fantastic job and I congratulate their previous coach and players for what they achieved. However, I believe that we can continue improving and developing. Despite being champions, I know that this team is capable of performing even better. The roster here is good, we are looking to strengthen certain positions. At the moment, our priority is to sign a winger and a striker.”

When asked about the UEFA Champions League qualifying rounds in the summer, coach Ouzounidis revealed that he isn’t fazed by the limited time-frame for preparation: “Am I worried about the early Champions League matches? No, my task is to have the players ready for the matches. I won’t make any changes to the team’s philosophy, because I understand the guys well, including their strengths and weaknesses. The Champions League is a great motivation for them.”

Ouzounidis wants to keep AEK’s Greek core together, pointing out the club’s promising academy prospects and strong defensive capabilities: “AEK’s main strong point is defence, but we want to improve the attacking side of the game too. Soon, I will take a look at how the academy works here, AEK have always based the team around Greeks and if a young player has the potential to play with the senior side, it will happen. I don’t need a huge squad, two players for each position is fine. Can I withstand the pressure? You have more pressure when working for a club with huge problems. Believe me, having the pressure to win the championship and cup will be a lot easier for me. My challenge is to improve on last season’s showing.”

In early August, AEK will begin their Champions League campaign in the third qualifying round, before the 2018/2019 Super League begins on August 25.

by Shaun Nicolaides
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