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Katanec accepts Olympiakos challenge

Olympiakos Piraeus FC have confirmed the appointment of Srecko Katanec as their new coach.

'Honest job'
Katanec, who has agreed a two-and-a-half-year contract, was presented to the media this lunchtime. "I am not a man of big words - the most important thing is to do an honest job and to have luck," he said. "I now have a very difficult task ahead of me and need to get to know the players."

Lemonis successor
His appointment confirmed Greek press reports that Katanec was the intended successor of the sacked Panagiotis Lemonis. The former Sampdoria UC and Yugoslavia player had told the papers: "It is nice to know the supporters are happy about me being the coach of their team."

Kokkalis talks
Katanec agreed to take over after a series of meetings with Olympiakos president Socrates Kokkalis, and will replace caretaker coach Ioannis Kollias. He resigned his post with the Slovenian national side following their first-round exit at last summer's FIFA World Cup. However, his success in leading the team to the finals, after he had also guided the team to EURO 2000™, established his reputation.

Three criteria
Kokkalis said that there were three criteria that led him to appoint Katanec, saying: "Firstly, he was successful as the coach of Slovenia. Secondly, he had a very successful career as a player and knows the way that players react. Thirdly he is very ambitious - he is a young coach and is not someone who has come to Greece to pick up a big pay cheque as he ends his career. He wants to make a name for himself and the team."

Athens derby
Katanec will watch Olympiakos's match against Proodeftiki FC from the stands tomorrow before taking charge of his first game as coach next weekend in the Athens derby against AEK Athens FC.

European struggles

Olympiakos lie second in the Alpha Ethniki, two points behind AEK. Their form in the UEFA Champions League has been less good, however, and Lemonis was sacked early last month after consecutive defeats by Maccabi Haifa FC and Manchester United FC left the team struggling in Group F.