SPORTS

Much-coveted Ergotelis rising star signs to play for PAOK

PAOK presented its new soccer star Vassilis Koutsianikoulis yesterday afternoon, after the Under-21 international signed a contract with the Thessaloniki club. Koutsianikoulis has impressed over the last couple of years in the Ergotelis jersey and had been a target for the major Athens clubs too. Dubbed the «new Messi» (the second Greek youngster to be compared with Barcelona’s Argentine star after Panathinaikos’s Sotiris Ninis), Koutsianikoulis is a volatile striker who excels in his pace and stood out for his winning goals this season against Olympiakos and Panathinaikos. Besides strengthening its attack by signing the long-haired striker, PAOK is also dealing a blow to its rivals in Athens and presenting its credentials as a likely title contender for next season. PAOK, which lost to Panathinaikos 4-1 on Sunday in the Super League playoffs, has Aris’s Thanassis Papazoglou as its next target. Ketsbaia hired On Monday Olympiakos president Socrates Kokkalis announced the hiring of Georgian coach Temuri Ketsbaia for the next three years. Yesterday Ketsbaia went to the Olympiakos offices for the second time this month but has not yet signed his contract, according to reports. This is likely to happen today. The former Anorthosis Famagusta coach has been criticized by Olympiakos fans for lacking the experience and the prestige required to coach the Greek champion club. In response, Kokkalis shrugged his shoulders during Monday’s press conference at the Karaiskaki Stadium, saying: «What’s wrong with Ketsbaia? Does he have cholera?» The Olympiakos president admitted, however, that the Georgian’s appointment presents something of a risk but stressed he’d rather see someone determined to work hard as the manager of Olympiakos than someone who would stay just for a year like a «tourist,» referring to this season’s coach, Ernesto Valverde.