SPORTS

Euro campaign starts

Panathinaikos enters soccer’s Champions League competition tonight in the second qualifying round, facing Dinamo Tbilisi at home at 9.45 p.m. (live on NET). «We have to win. We want the victory, which will allow us to have a peaceful trip to Tbilisi,» said Panathinaikos coach Henk ten Cate ahead of his first competitive game on the Greens’ bench. The former Ajax manager asked his players to secure a win by a good goal margin and show a winning spirit. «Dinamo is a well-organized team, especially in defense, and I expect it to play with a lone striker, as it did in its away game in the first round,» commented ten Cate. Brazilian star Gilberto Silva is not yet fit to play any part in the game, while ten Cate has left out of the squad his second-choice goalkeeper, Arkadiusz Malarz (who looks set to leave the club), and Brazilian midfielder Cleyton Silva. Goalkeeper Mario Galinovic expressed optimism about tonight’s game: «We do not know the Georgian champions so well, but I believe we are better and we will qualify for the next round.» The second leg is scheduled for next Wednesday in the Georgian capital. Before that, on Friday, UEFA will hold the draw for the third qualifying round. Central defender Christos Melissis joined Panathinaikos yesterday and signed a four-year contract that will earn him 400,000 euros per season. «This is a huge challenge in my career. Panathinaikos is chasing the league title every year, has the prospect of the Champions League and every player wants to play in this team. I want to thank PAOK for the progress I made in my career,» said Melissis.