AEK suffered a day of humiliation on Thursday, in the most difficult year since it was founded just under 90 years ago, as it got eliminated from the Greek Cup after losing at home to second-division team Kavala, in a game that nearly did not start as the former Athens giant did not even have the cash to pay the referees up front.
With just three wins in 15 league games and firmly rooted at the bottom of the table, AEK would be excused for not having the cup as its priority, as the risk of relegation for the first time in its history is looming large.
Yet going down 1-0 at home to a second-division side, that is not even in good form in the Football League, having drawn 0-0 away will certainly add insult to the injury of AEK supporters, some of whom had staged a sit-in at the club’s training center near the Athens airport last week.
Worse, it was a former AEK player, Tamandani Nsaliwa, who scored the goal in Kavala’s famous victory at the Olympic Stadium that sees the Macedonian club through to the fourth round of the competition, where it will face holder Olympiakos.
Kavala did it even with a man down in the last few minutes, but there was nothing the AEK attack could do to bend the visitors’ defense on the night.
The match kicked off with a 20-minute delay as the referees demanded to get paid their 2,600 euros for the game, but cash-strapped AEK was temporarily unable to find the money needed.
In Thursday’s other Cup games Levadiakos thrashed hapless Pierikos 5-0 away, Veria downed second-tier Thrasyvoulos 2-0 away and qualified, while Kerkyra and third-division Tyrnavos shared a goalless draw on Corfu after Kerkyra had won 2-0 at Tyrmavos in the first leg.