Dubious honour AEK's driving force
Thursday, October 22, 2009
AEK Athens FC became the first foreign team to lose against FC BATE Borisov in Minsk on Matchday 3, but will look to send the Belarussian side back to the foot of UEFA Europa League Group I in the return.
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AEK Athens FC became the first foreign team to lose a game against FC BATE Borisov in Minsk on Matchday 3, but will look to send the Belarussian side back to the foot of UEFA Europa League Group I when the teams meet again in the Greek capital.
• The teams met for the first time on Matchday 3 in what was BATE's first game against Greek opponents as well as AEK's maiden experience of Belarussian football.
• AEK have won their last two UEFA Europa League home games without conceding a goal.
• BATE have alternated between defeats and wins in their last four European away games, and since they lost 2-0 at SL Benfica on Matchday 1, they are due a win against AEK if the pattern holds.
• Dušan Bajević is in his third spell as AEK coach. The former Yugoslavia striker spent four years at the club as a player, winning Greek titles in 1978 and 1979, in between spells with FK Velež from his native Mostar.
• He won four Greek championships in his first stint as AEK coach (1988-96) before incensing many fans by moving to Olympiacos FC and winning titles there in three successive seasons. He rejoined AEK in 2002 but quit midway through a match against Iraklis FC in 2004. His current reign began in 2008.
• BATE, famously a team founded at a Borisov tractor factory, are led by Viktor Goncharenko, who last season became the youngest coach to hold the reins at a side in the UEFA Champions League, aged 31. A year older, he is now the youngest coach to lead a side into the UEFA Europa League group stage.
• Once a BATE defender, Goncharenko was forced to retire young through injury but stayed at the club as a coach, working his way up through the ranks before taking sole command in 2007.
• BATE claimed their fourth successive Belarussian title – and their sixth in total – with a 4-0 win over FC Naftan Novopolotsk on 5 October, which gave them an unassailable lead with five games to spare.
• Coach Goncharenko remained optimistic about his side's UEFA Europa League prospects afterwards, saying: "We are not in a good position now, but anything can happen in football. We will do our best in the next matches."
• AEK have the worst disciplinary record in the group stage so far, with eleven yellow cards and four red ones from their three games to date.
• BATE host Benfica on Matchday 5, with AEK at home to Everton on the same day, 2 December.