Coaching shifts at big clubs

Just minutes after AEK and Panathinaikos ended their final Super League game for the season, drawing 1-1 in a game of no significance for the final standings, coaching changes were announced at both clubs. In a widely anticipated development, announced moments after the final whistle, AEK confirmed that it had hired ex-Larissa coach Giorgos Donis. In the Panathinaikos camp, the club’s Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro parted ways with the Athens club. Speaking at the post-match news conference, Peseiro indicated that his end had come by thanking both players and officials. Peseiro stopped short of announcing his departure, but soon after the news conference, it became known that he had met with club boss Yiannis Vardinoyiannis earlier in the day and an agreement had been reached to terminate his contract. Both Panathinaikos and AEK, which ended the season in second and third places respectively, have become increasingly frustrated by Olympiakos’s dominance over the past decade. Donis, 38, has proven successful in his brief coaching career to date. 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 Donis led the club to a Greek Cup victory last season. Donis, a former AEK player, will be presented by the club today. With nothing to play for but prestige last night, AEK and Panathinaikos fielded unusual lineups featuring a considerable number of young players. Panathinaikos went into the game assured of top spot in the playoffs – as a result of a five-point lead over AEK – and a spot in the new season’s Champions League qualifying round. In the other game, a far more entertaining encounter, Aris and visiting Panionios drew 3-3. Aris is preparing for the Cup Final this Saturday against Olympiakos.