Greek champions Olympiakos Piraeus FC have sacked coach Panagiotis Lemonis and temporarily replaced him with former Greece Under-21 trainer Yiannis Kollias.
The unexpected dismissal comes less than a month after their 6-2 UEFA Champions League thrashing of Bayer 04 Leverkusen and when they are joint top of the Greek Alpha Ethniki. "Olympiakos announce the ending of their contract with Lemonis," a club statement said today. "The club would like to thank Lemonis for his service and announce the appointment of Yiannis Kollias for a temporary period."
The 42-year-old Lemonis was informed of the club's decision by vice-president Giorgos Louvaris after the Olympiakos official held talks with Socrates Kokkalis, the club president, earlier today. Despite leading the club to successive championships in his first two seasons in management, Lemonis is yet to guide the Piraeus club past the first group stage of the Champions League.
Heavy away defeats
Even though Olympiakos thumped Leverkusen, finalists last season, in the opening game of Group F this term, subsequent heavy away defeats by Maccabi Haifa, 3-0, and Manchester United FC, 4-0, have left Olympiakos once more in danger of an early exit from Europe's blue-riband club competition. They are next in action against United, the runaway section leaders, on 23 October.
A former Olympiakos and Greece player, Lemonis has been unable to eradicate the club's disciplinary problems, with recent matches seeing two senior players sent off. Zé Elias was dismissed at Old Trafford as the first half drew to a close for lunging at Juan Sebastián Verón, while Giovani saw red for violent conduct against Kallithea GS in the Greek Cup on Sunday.
The 69-year-old Kollias becomes the caretaker coach of Olympiakos after relinquishing his scouting duties at the club. The board hope to appoint a high-profile successor to Lemonis, who replaced Yiannis Mantzourakis in November 2000.
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