Kick out COVID-19 by following the World Health Organization and FIFA's five steps to help stop the disease’s spread.

1. Wash hands 2. Cough into bent elbow 3. Don't touch your face 4. Keep physical distance 5. Stay at home if unwell.
More info >

AZ look to pounce after Ketsbaia exit

Božidar Bandović is in temorary charge of Olympiacos FC after the Greek side parted company with Temuri Ketsbaia on the eve of their Group H opener against group-stage debutants AZ Alkmaar.

AZ look to pounce after Ketsbaia exit
AZ look to pounce after Ketsbaia exit ©

Olympiacos FC's preparations for their return to the UEFA Champions League after a one-year absence took an unexpected turn on Tuesday when they parted company with coach Temuri Ketsbaia. Ronald Koeman says it will be business as usual for his players as AZ Alkmaar make their group-stage debut at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, but they must feel they have every hope of leaving the home side without a Matchday 1 win in five attempts.

Božidar Bandović, Olympiacos coach
Our recent performances leave much to be desired, despite some good results. 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 Olympiacos. 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.

Ronald Koeman, AZ coach
It was strange to learn of Temuri Ketsbaia being released of his duties. 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. Olympiacos 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.

Key stats
• On the occasions Olympiacos have faced teams from the Netherlands, victory has gone to the home team six times with two draws, the visitors scoring in only one of those eight matches.

• AZ have a 100 per cent record in their three fixtures against opponents from Greece.

• AZ are one of eight sides appearing in the group stage for the first time. The Eredivisie champions have lost just once in 33 European home games and have also impressed away, winning four and losing only two in the UEFA Cup in 2006/07 and 2007/08.

• Olympiacos defender Olof Mellberg and AZ pair Rasmus Elm and Pontus Wernbloom are team-mates in the Swedish national side. Mounir El Hamdaoui of AZ and Olympiacos' Jaouad Zairi are international team-mates with Morocco.

Team news
Out: Aristidis Soiledis (groin), Giannis Papadopoulos (left knee ligament), Enzo Maresca (thigh), Matt Derbyshire (groin), Luciano Galletti (thigh)
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: none

Out: Pontus Wernbloom (knee), Mounir El Hamdaoui (knee)
Doubtful: Joey Didulica (head)
Suspended: none
Misses next match if booked: none

Weekend results
12/09/09 Olympiacos 0-0 FC Kavala

12/09/09 ADO Den Haag 2-1 AZ
(Verhoek 4, Immers 54; Lens 86)

Did you know?
AZ began this season by claiming the Dutch Super Cup for the first time in their history with a 5-1 win against SC Heerenveen – the biggest margin of victory in the fixture since 1991.