SPORTS

Larissa coach close to deciding

Larissa coach Giorgos Donis is very close to making up his mind about his career’s next step, believed to be a possible move to AEK, the highly regarded Greek soccer coach commented yesterday. «I am close to deciding. It is a difficult decision, not only for my coaching career, but my personal life, too,» said Donis. «Which is why I need to weigh all the factors and be certain about the decision I make,» he continued. Though AEK – currently second, two points behind Olympiakos ahead of this weekend’s final round of play – has not confirmed its interest in Donis, the Athens club’s intentions are considered certain. After firing Spaniard Lorenzo Serra Ferrer in February, AEK appointed his assistant Nikos Kostenoglou as interim coach. Donis, who is described as a loyal and sentimental character, is believed to be satisfied at Larissa, but his rapid progress as a coach could draw him to AEK, one of the country’s three biggest clubs and a regular contender for Champions League play. Local reports suggest that Donis is highly likely to make the move. Asked whether a formal offer had been made by AEK, Donis remarked, «I don’t want to say anything about that, because there’s no point in getting into the proceedings here.» The 38-year-old Donis, whose playing career included two stints at AEK, has made a successful transition to coaching, a domain to which the former striker has applied an attacking brand of soccer. For his first job, he took on Ilissiakos as a fourth-division club in 2003 and achieved back-to-back promotions to land the club in the second division two years later. Ilissiakos’s president Costas Piladakis then acquired Larissa, and took with him Donis, who led the club to a Greek Cup victory last season. Trailing fifth-placed Asteras Tripolis by two points in the Super League, Larissa is a contender for the playoffs, reserved for the four teams that end second to fifth at the end of the regular home-and-away season. Donis was nominated for the Best Coach prize awarded by the local sports journalists’ union last season.