Panathinaikos’s new coach begins task with pep talk

Despite taking over a side that leads Greek soccer’s first division with three wins from three games, Panathinaikos’s newly appointed coach, Czech Zdenek Scasny, has, as his first move, needed to offer pep talks to players in a bid to rectify the club’s overall stifling mood of recent days. A 1-0 away setback in the Champions League against PSV Eindhoven last week, unconvincing domestic performances, despite the perfect record, as well as ongoing friction between team manager Velimir Zajec and Scasny’s predecessor Itzhak Shum – which is believed to have been the primary reason for the latter’s forced resignation just days ago – have all apparently affected the morale of players. During his first meeting with his players, Scasny, who has worked in Greece in the recent past as coach of Cretan club OFI, stressed that he believed in their abilities. Scasny, who was officially presented yesterday, is no stranger to Panathinaikos. Prior to assuming the coach’s post this week, he had served as a talent scout for the Athens club. No details of Scasny’s contract with Panathinaikos have been disclosed, but it is believed he has signed a deal for the remainder of this season. As his assistant, the Czech coach has opted for Manolis Patemtzis, with whom he had collaborated during his stay at OFI. A former player of the Cretan club for a decade until 1997, Patemtzis has also worked as coach for several lower-division clubs. Shum, whose tenure with Panathinaikos lasted 15 months, led Panathinaikos to the double – Greek league and cup – last season. However, the Israeli’s ties with the club’s manager, Zajec, a former star player at Panathinaikos, deteriorated during the summer break after the latter took charge of new signings. The 56-year-old Shum had signed with Panathinaikos after a successful spell at Maccabi Haifa in Israel, which he helped become the first Israeli club to ever qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.