Soccer leaders fail to convince

Panathinaikos and Olympiakos continue to lead the Super League undefeated, but the aftermath of the championship’s Round 8 saw concerns about the title rivals’ quality of soccer. Both teams, which are level on 22 points at the top and have opened a nine-point gap over third-placed Aris and a 10-point advantage over Ergotelis and PAOK, which sit joint fourth, have yet to convince fans with their performances. Most of the games they have won (they each have seven wins and a draw against Kavala) have been by a single-goal margin, with the winner often coming at the end of the match. PAO had the league’s top scorer, midfielder Costas Katsouranis, to thank for his goal in the 70th minute over PAOK, as well as his opener in the 23rd in the Greens 2-1 home win. He now has six goals in eight matches. Panathinaikos coach Henk ten Cate exploded at critics of the team’s style during the post-match press conference. He said it is not up to journalists to decide whether he should go, but only up to the club’s president, Nikos Pateras. He added that journalists should go and ask his players at Barcelona, Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi, whether he did a good job with them. Olympiakos had to wait until the 85th minute to grab the winning goal through another midfielder, Dudu, to beat Ergotelis by the same score. Even more worried should be Asteras Tripolis fans, who saw their team suffer its third straight loss (2-1 at home to Atromitos), before Argentine coach Mario Gomes was sacked and promptly replaced by Vangelis Vlachos. Fans worry whether the Latin contingent of 10 South American players on the roster will adapt to the Greek manager’s style. Finally, there is some hope amid AEK’s administrative plight. The cash-strapped Athens club announced yesterday that Chicago constructor Bob Kozonis is looking into buying a majority stake in the club. Greek Cup Soccer action returns today, tomorrow and on Thursday with the fourth round of the Greek Cup, the first involving Super League teams. All ties are knockout and pit a lower-division side at home against a Super League club. Today, holder Olympiakos travels to Panserraikos, who last season dropped out of the Super League; Kalamata hosts PAS Giannina; Aegaleo entertains Asteras Tripolis and Panetolikos meets Panionios. Tomorrow’s fixtures are Eordaikos vs Panathinaikos, OFI Crete vs PAOK, Agrotikos Asteras vs Kavala, Visaltiakos Nigritas vs Atromitos, Ethnikos vs Xanthi, Olympiakos Volou vs Larissa, Ionikos vs Levadiakos, Kallithea vs Panthrakikos, Pierikos vs Ergotelis and Aspropyrgos vs Aris. Finally on Thursday, Thrasyvoulos plays AEK and Trikala clashes with Iraklis.