Savvidis Speaks of “Athens Alliance”
PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis was bitter in defeat after witnessing his team throw away the chance of playing in the Champions League after the Thessaloniki club lost 3-2 to Panathinaikos in their final SuperLeague playoff match on Wednesday, accusing the three big Athens clubs of Panathinaikos, Olympiacos, and AEK of forming an alliance against the Salonica club.
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Tensions ran high at the Toumba as Panathinaikos gained a satisfying measure of revenge on PAOK following the controversies surrounding the corresponding playoff clash which was abandoned.
PAOK, the Greek Cup winners, were overwhelming favorites to claim top spot after they were awarded a 3-0 win on paper against Panathinaikos, who were also deduced three points, when Ivic was hit with a beer can on Matchday 2.
And the Greens banished the memory of that controversy with a rousing backs-against-the-wall display which had coach Marinos Ouzounidis purring with pride and Savvidis fuming.
“Panathinaikos wanted it more, they came here hurting, but what I don’t understand was why they were upset with us,” said Savvidis.
He added: “We didn't throw any beer cans, we didn’t ask the match [in Athens] to be stopped. All that happened in their stadium. One thing which makes me strange pleasure is that all of the Athens teams have ended up being united against us. But the colors don’t matter, nor yellow, nor green, nor red. None of them can do anything about us. Let them make their cocktail.”
Sullen-faced PAOK coach Vladan Ivic, a man of few words at the best of times, typically did not have much to say after the crushing defeat.
“We were the better team but in the end we just couldn’t do it,” he said. “We risked it all to win the game but in the end we ended up losing.”
Those emotions were a stark contrast to Ouzounidis, who hailed his players remarkable efforts.
“It is those 19 players in the squad today that should be in this press conference, not me,” said a visibly elated Ouzounidis.
He added: “I am always proud of my players for the effort they make in every game, but I am especially proud of them today and I want to congratulate them for their passion and energy. That was the difference today. I told them to believe that they could win and they did just that.”