New Olympiacos FC coach Zico may have been in the stands but, unaware of his appointment, Olof Mellberg and his team-mates claimed victory over AZ Alkmaar "for ourselves and for the fans".
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Olof Mellberg revealed he and his team-mates were as much in the dark as the club's fans after Zico was named as Olympiacos FC's new coach on the same night that the Greek titleholders opened their UEFA Champions League campaign with a victory over AZ Alkmaar.
In the dark
Zico watched from the stands at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium as Vassilis Torosidis scored the only goal eleven minutes from time to earn victory for a team under the temporary guidance of Božidar Bandović following Temuri Ketsbaia's dismissal on the eve of the Group H meeting. "I don't think any of the players knew," Mellberg told uefa.com. "I certainly had no idea we were going to be getting a new coach so soon. I still don't know what's happening to be honest. We just knew we had to focus on our performance and we did.
"[The Olympiacos players] talked a lot before and during the game to try and help each other out and it paid off," the Swedish international added. "We really wanted to win for ourselves and for the fans." Mellberg played a significant part in the success at the heart of the Olympiacos back line, constantly snuffing out the threat of AZ's dangerous attack, and the 32-year-old admitted the pressure was lifted with Torosidis's late header. "It was definitely a relief to finally get the breakthrough because for some reason it was difficult to create chances today, for both teams," Mellberg said, "but we persevered and in the end we just had the edge."
Olympiacos were shorn of Enzo Maresca, Luciano Galletti and Matt Derbyshire through injury and Mellberg himself was sporting a nasty scar on his nose picked up during Saturday's goalless draw with FC Kavala. The former Juventus and Aston Villa FC man insists the team cannot use these setbacks as an excuse, however. "It's true we've had a few injuries at the start of the season after playing a lot of football," he said. "We have played four qualifiers in Europe and with the league games as well, the matches have been coming around quickly. But injuries are inevitable. We had a good overall performance today, got the win and that's what counts." It may have impressed Zico too.