SPORTS

‘I’m sorry,’ says Dusan Bajevic

New AEK coach Dusan Bajevic asked for forgiveness yesterday, during his first press conference after taking over at the Athens club, from anyone he may have offended in his previous spells at the club. The Serb manager tried to extend a hand of friendship to the hardcore fans who have not yet forgiven him for the fact that he abandoned the team in 1996 to move across Athens to despised rivals Olympiakos, in spite of having promised he would stay. Bajevic also said that the team’s main aim as of yesterday was the Greek Cup, in which AEK has proceeded to the last 16 and has a favorable draw, as it will host second-division side Kerkyra. He insisted, however, that this does not mean AEK is giving up on the league, adding that it is just that its main focus will now be winning the cup, a competition that Bajevic has won with three different clubs in his coaching career in Greece. In another twist during his address to the press, Bajevic send another message of friendship to hardcore fans, saying he is in favor of the club returning to Nea Philadelphia; this is an essential condition for fan clubs to approve anyone involved with the AEK administration. It was also the source of discontent between fans and AEK’s former president, Demis Nikolaidis, who insisted on moving the club’s home far from Nea Philadelphia, the team’s traditional base. Nikos Koulis, the club’s vice president, said: «I hope today marks an end to the rift that has made us a much smaller team than people expect us to be. We want to open our arms to everyone. Nothing can stop AEK if we are united.» AEK’s first game with Bajevic in charge will be its visit to OFI in Crete tomorrow afternoon. Asteras hires Kostenoglou Nikos Kostenoglou, who at the start of the week had been the favorite to take over at AEK before Bajevic’s candidacy emerged, has instead become the coach of Asteras Tripolis. His first game in charge of the Peloponnesian side will be a home match with Ergotelis. The weekend’s other games are Panserraikos vs Panthrakikos, Iraklis vs Olympiakos and Panathinaikos vs Thrasyvoulos tonight, and Panionios vs Levadiakos, PAOK vs Larissa and Xanthi vs Aris tomorrow.