A really tough challenge

The imprisonment of its controversial boss, Makis Psomiadis, has left soccer club AEK in disarray ahead of today’s Champions League home match against defending champion Real Madrid. Psomiadis was led to Korydallos prison yesterday after being sentenced to 12 years for forging a document to support false allegations of graft against former Environment and Public Works Minister Costas Laliotis. Psomiadis, who is the owner of the club, appointed in his stead his son Stavros, a boy of 18. The appointment has bewildered AEK players and officials, who heard the boss on Monday exhorting them to «respect (Stavros) 10 times as much as you did me, because I interrupted the boy’s studies in London to bring him here.» «I am sorry about what happened… We will try to keep this from affecting the team,» AEK coach Dusan Bajevic said yesterday. AEK is facing mounting injury problems ahead of today’s clash with left back Grigoris Georgatos (hamstring), right back Vassilis Borbokis (thigh) and striker Dimitris Nalitzis (ankle) joining long-term injury absentees Michael Kreek (knee) and Elias Atmatsidis (knee). In the Real camp, Ronaldo is still waiting for his debut with his new team after the World Cup winner was not deemed fit enough to travel. Guti should continue up front alongside Raul, while at the back Francisco Pavon is set to come in to partner Ivan Helguera, with Fernando Hierro being rested. Probable lineups AEK – 22 – Dionysis Hiotis, 16 – Nikos Georgeas, 19 – Mauricio Wright, 32 – Michalis Kapsis, 6 – Theodoros Zagorakis, 10 – Vassilis Tsartas, 17 – Michalis Kasapis, 21 – Costas Katsouranis, 23 – Vassilis Lakis, 11 – Demis Nikolaidis, 30 – Ilija Ivic. Real Madrid – 1 – Iker Casillas, 2 – Michel Salgado, 31 – Francisco Pavon, 6 – Ivan Helguera, 3 – Roberto Carlos, 10 – Luis Figo, 19 – Esteban Cambiasso, 21 – Santiago Solari, 5 – Zinedine Zidane, 7 – Raul, 14 – Guti. (Combined reports)