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Olympiacos search for morale boost

Published: Tuesday 4 November 2003, 17.39CET
A win against Galatasaray SK in Athens would restore some pride for Olympiacos CFP.

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Published: Tuesday 4 November 2003, 17.39CET

Olympiacos search for morale boost

A win against Galatasaray SK in Athens would restore some pride for Olympiacos CFP.

By Paris Ayiomamitis in Athens

Olympiacos CFP have the UEFA Cup on their mind as they seek their first UEFA Champions League Group D win at home against Galatasaray SK.

No points
Despite promising performances in all three of their opening games, Olympiacos have failed to pick up a point. Their best hope of a lengthy European campaign this season now looks to be in the UEFA Cup, which will require overhauling third-placed Galatasaray.

Added resolve
With group leaders Juventus FC on nine points, Real Sociedad de Fútbol on six and Galatasaray on three following a 1-0 defeat of the Greek champions on Matchday 3, Olympiacos coach Oleh Protasov was in no doubt that his side would do their utmost to triumph. "We will fight tooth and nail to win this match," he said. "We owe it to ourselves and our fans."

Wasteful finishing
The game in Istanbul saw Olympiacos pass up a number of good chances, and the coach is adamant his side need to rediscover their edge in front of goal. "We have to start scoring," said the Ukrainian. "If we create as many chances as we did in Turkey, we shouldn't have a problem."

Painful defeat
The feeling that Olympiacos had dragged defeat from the jaws of victory on Matchday 3 was prevalent throughout the squad. Greek international midfield player Andreas Niniadis echoed his coach's comments, saying: "I'm not going to say 'may the best team win' - I want Olympiacos to win. We were the better side in Istanbul but still lost."

Positive response
Olympiacos were prevented from going four points clear in the Alpha Ethiniki on Sunday by a late Ionikos FC equaliser, but Protasov believes that disappointment will galvanise his players. "This is a different match, and, if anything, I think it may have a positive impact as my players were very upset with their performance at the weekend," he said. "I've told my players it's up to them because I honestly believe we are a better team than Galatasaray."

Terim dream
Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim was almost inclined to agree, saying: "If we play as we did in the first half in Istanbul, we won't have any problems. But if we repeat our second-half performance then we will be in a tight spot. Olympiacos were better in the second half in Istanbul."

Knockout focus
Terim, though, is focused on qualifying for the knockout stages. "Our aim is to remain on course for qualification to the next phase of the competition," he said. "We know that Olympiacos will be helped by their enthusiastic fans and that the atmosphere at their home ground is intense, but we will try to stay focused on the task at hand."

Injured players
Theofanis Katergiannakis is likely to start in goal for Olympiacos after Slovakian goalkeeper Juraj Bucek was substituted at half-time in the game against Ionikos. Galatasaray, meanwhile, will need to find a replacement for the injured Volkan Arslan, while striker Hakan Sükür is also doubtful for the game. Finally, there will be no Turkish fans at the match, in keeping with an agreement between both clubs not to allow supporters to travel.

Last updated: 04/11/03 20.40CET