SPORTS

Rallying call for Olympiakos ahead of crucial match

Olympiakos president Sokratis Kokkalis has urged his side to qualify for the group stages of the Champions League at all costs when it faces Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus at home tomorrow night. The Piraeus club put in a terrible performance in the first leg almost two weeks ago to lose 3-0 to the unfancied Cypriots and is now in real danger of going out of the competition, which would also mean a loss of revenue running into millions of euros. «We have to win this game,» said the billionaire businessman at a news conference yesterday. «All Olympiakos fans, the board, the coach and the players that will play must understand how important this game is. «Olympiakos has to show strength, determination and a clear mind on Wednesday. We can, and we must, qualify.» The team’s Spanish coach Ernesto Valverde said he was fully aware of the significance of tomorrow’s game. «Twelve days ago we were very unlucky but hopefully it will be the reverse this time around. With the help of the fans, I think we can do it.» Valverde was boosted by the news that veteran goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis will be available for the game after limping off in the first leg of the tie. The news conference was held to unveil the club’s eight summer signings: defender Giorgos Galitsios from Larissa, midfielder Yiannis Papadopoulos from Iraklis, goalkeeper Pavel Kovac from Apollon Kalamaria, midfielder Oscar Gonzalez from Real Zaragoza, defender Avraam Papadopoulos from Aris, midfielder Dudu from CSKA Moscow and attacker Diogo from Portuguesa. Kokkalis also used the opportunity to warn rival Panathinaikos, who has also been active in the summer transfer market, that it will not have it all its own way this season. «All the signings we have made are signings of substance,» said Kokkalis. «They are signings that for yet another year will ensure Olympiakos is champion in Greece and, I hope, will perform well in Europe. «Olympiakos has not made any triumphant announcements this summer. We left that to others because the true value of a team will become clear during the season.» Olympiakos has completely dominated Greek soccer in the last few years, winning 11 of the last 12 league titles. During that period, Panathinaikos has won no more than one championship.