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Panathinaikos FC coach Henk Ten Cate admitted his players had achieved more than he could have dared hope for in securing top spot in Group B with a 1-0 win over Anorthosis Famagusta FC in Athens. While the Greek side completed a fine comeback after two opening losses in the competition, Anorthosis coach Temuri Ketsbaia was left to praise his team on a "great effort" after their first campaign ended with them slipping to fourth place.
Henk Ten Cate, Panathinaikos coach
I always believed in my team. After the first two matches, when everybody had us written off, I saw the determination of my players, I saw the improvement, especially in the wake of the Anorthosis match in Cyprus [a 3-1 defeat]. I told everybody that we could change things around but I didn't dream that we would get ten points. I am very happy and proud of my team. It's great that we finished first – we were hoping for that after winning in Milan [against FC Internazionale Milano], in order to have home advantage in the second leg in the next round. At home, in Europe, Panathinaikos are a strong force. We will have a tough task ahead, whatever the opposition, and we should be realistic and take one game at a time.
We didn't really experience the riots in Athens as the team's hotel is far from the centre, but the guys were affected. We were watching the news, reading the newspapers, it was terrible. I don't know how difficult it was for them to focus on tonight's match, but they did a fantastic job. We are not forgetting what has happened on the streets and I hope that our success brought something positive for the fans. Hopefully things will calm down and the problems will be solved as soon as possible.
Temuri Ketsbaia, Anorthosis Famagusta coach
Sadly our European adventure ends here but I am very proud of my players and I want to congratulate them on their great effort. A few months ago, nobody would have bet on us having a chance to qualify right up until the last match. Unfortunately, we ended up fourth, but that doesn't diminish our contribution. In the end, the pressure was too great and it is hard for a small club from Cyprus to be competitive at this level. We were unlucky to see experienced players like Sávio, [Traianos] Dellas and [Arian] Bekaj get injured because their experience would have been useful in such important matches. Panathinaikos deserved to get through, after their huge effort in the last three matches. But we weren't expecting that Inter would lose their last two matches. After the qualifying stage, we said we would enjoy our time in the group phase and we did just that.
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