Petrakis leaves relegated PAS Giannina with fond memories
Nick Tsambouniaris looks back on the games that defined the Giannis Petrakis era at PAS Giannina, after the longest serving coach parted ways with the club.
Veteran Greek coach Giannis Petrakis will depart PAS Giannina after their relegation from Greek football’s top flight. Petrakis stayed at the Epirus club for five and a half years, making him the longest serving coach in the country. While the “Ajax of Epirus” were relegated this season, the Cretan manager leaves behind a long-lasting legacy that is littered with great moments.
The 59-year-old departs after overseeing 196 games with a record of 63 wins, 60 draws and 73 losses - a fair achievement considering the resources at his disposal. Under his guidance, PAS Giannina became a stable Super League club with an identity that included being tough to beat at home, looking to play on the counter, and tricky to break down on the road.
Relegation came after the sales of key players over the years such as Charis Charisis, Nikos Korovesis, Dimitris Kolovetsios, Stavros Tsoukalas, Leonardo Koutris, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Markos Vellidis, Pedro Conde, Brana Ilic, and Noe Acosta. Many of these young Greeks such as Mavropanos and Koutris are going on to forge strong careers. Meanwhile, the departure of Spanish forward Conde all but dashed the club’s chances of beating the drop as the Super League underwent a restructuring process with less teams.
Among one of the biggest highlights was the club’s participation in the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League. The team finished sixth in the 2015-16 season and as a result of Panionios failing to comply with regulations, were awarded a ticket to continental football. They defeated Norwegian side Odds Ballklubb 4-3 on aggregate in the second qualifying round, before bowing out with a respectable 3-1 loss on aggregate to Dutch side AZ Alkmaar. They also reached the quarter-finals of the Greek Cup last season.
Here is a look at the matches that defined Petrakis’ stay at the “Ajax of Epirus.”
His first match at the helm was at the Zosimades Stadium in Giannina on the 1st of February, 2014 against Levadiakos. Unsurprisingly, he got off to a winning start via goals from Ilic and Tsoukalas in the 2-1 win.
PAS Giannina lost 3-1 to Panathinaikos at Leoforos on the 10th of May, 2015. While the result did not go his way, this match is symbolic as it was the first time in Petrakis’ career that he oversaw an entire season from start to finish. Amazingly, prior to the 2014-15 season, he never once achieved this despite having 14 previous stints.
On the 14th of January, 2016 PAS Giannina defeated Panathinaikos 1-0 at Leoforos in the last 16 of the Greek Cup. They may have missed out on qualification to the next phase on away goals (Panathinaikos won 2-1 in Giannina), but this morale-boosting win came at a great time and was one of his best as coach of the club. It was also the first time he lined up with three centre backs.
PAS Giannina edged Xanthi on the 17th of April, 2016 to confirm their sixth-placed finish that ultimately led to their participation in the 2016-17 UEFA Europa League. This win capped off a strong end to the season as they won five and drew two of their last seven matches.
The 14th of July, 2016 saw the club play in Europe for the first ever time in its history as they hosted Odds Ballklubb in Greece. They won the match 3-0 and secured qualification to the third qualifying round a few days later in Norway, even though they lost on the night.
PAS Giannina’s 1-0 win over Agrotikos Asteras in the Greek Cup on the 29th of November, 2016 marked Petrakis’ 100th game in charged as coach. Christos Donis was the goalscorer.
On the 23rd of April, 2017, Olympiacos made light work of Petrakis’ men as they fell 5-0 in Piraeus to end the season on a sour note. Ironically, the “Ajax of Epirus” lost by the same scoreline against Olympiacos away on the 2nd of September, 2017, early in the 2017-18 season.
PAS Giannina’s 5-0 win over Thyella Kamari in the Group Stage of the Greek Cup on the 1st of October, 2018 was the biggest win of the Petrakis era. Prior to this it was 4-0 against Niki Volou, Larissa, and Levadiakos.
The 2-0 home loss at the hands of PAOK on the final matchday (6th of May, 2019) of the 2018-19 season saw PAS Giannina relegated to Greece’s second tier for the first time in a decade. It also spelt the end of the Petrakis era in Giannina.