Olympiakos’ preparations for their return to the Champions League took an unexpected twist on Tuesday when they parted company with coach Temuri Ketsbaia.
“Our recent performances leave much to be desired, despite some good results,” said acting coach Bozidar Bandovic. “It’s a tough job to be a coach. One day you’re there, the next you’re gone. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get a phone call today and be offered the coaching job at Olympiakos.
“I have never worked as head coach, but I’m a perfectionist; I have studied a lot and will do my best because I know it’s a great opportunity for me.
“There aren’t many things a coach can do overnight. I have my ideas and want to help the side. We have watched Alkmaar in their recent games and we will discuss the Dutch side’s strong and weak points with the players. It’s our first match in the UEFA Champions League in two years and we want a victory.”
AZ coach Ronald Koeman admitted he was perplexed to hear of Ketsbaia’s departure.
“It was strange to learn of Temuri Ketsbaia being released of his duties,” he said. “I can’t comment on another club’s decision, but I thought the development probably had to do with the performance of the team lately.
“From our end, we will do our best on the pitch tomorrow. We don’t know if the coaching change at Olympiacos will influence their game, but our plans and tactics won’t alter. In order to get a good result here in Athens we have to perform to the best of our abilities.
Olympiakos are a strong side and, contrary to AZ, they have European experience. Especially in the first half, we have to stick to our game and our defensive positions, not be intimidated by the atmosphere and gradually get control of the game.”