Henk ten Cate has been replaced at Panathinaikos FC by Greece Under-21 coach and former Greens favourite Nikos Nioplias. The news came with Panathinaikos just a point off the Super League summit and well placed to reach the UEFA Europa League knockout phase.
Panathinaikos have won ten of their 13 league matches this term, but lost to rivals Olympiacos FC on 29 November then Galatasaray AŞ in the UEFA Europa League four days later. Ten Cate, who joined Panathinaikos in summer 2008, said: "It was an honour for me to coach Panathinaikos and the results we had backed up my work. I have laid the foundations for the team. I would like to thank the Panathinaikos fans for their support and I hope that the team wins the title."
The Dutchman's replacement Nioplias has enjoyed a successful coaching career with the Hellenic Football Federation, leading Greece to the 2007 UEFA European Under-19 Championship final and has now put the U21 side in a commanding position in qualifying for the 2011 UEFA European U21 Championship. Greece are two points ahead of England at the top of Group 9 with 13 points from six games. The former international midfielder, 44, spent three years at Panathinaikos as a player, helping the club to titles in 1995 and 1996 as well as the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 1995/96.
"It's a great honour for me to take over at Panathinaikos," he said. "My aim is to achieve as a coach what I have achieved as a player: to win titles." Nioplias will be assisted by club legend Krzystoph Warzycha, who is Panathinaikos's all-time leading scorer having played for the Greens between 1989 and 2004. A point against FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti would secure Panathinaikos, who have not won the Greek championship since 2004, a place in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 next Wednesday.
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