Readiness and adjustment ability tested by Royal Antwerp
Răzvan Lucescu made the most of the friendly encounter against the Belgian side in order to test the readiness levels of his newcomers. He wanted to see their response to the team’s philosophy and their tactical adjustment. He also provided eight players with the opportunity to play all 90 minutes.
The Romanian coach was mainly satisfied with what he saw from his players on the pitch, taking into account that he fielded some them in less than usual positions. Konstantinos Balogiannis featured as left full-back for the whole encounter, Amr Warda was given a free role behind striker Giannis Mystakidis and Lefteris Lyratzis. The latter completed his engagement with Greece U19s in the Mediterranean Games, joined PAOK in the Netherlands and was thrown in at the deep end featuring as winger, without even having completed one proper training session with his club-mates.
PAOK came up against an old acquaintance, Royal Antwerp head coach László Bölöni. The Romanian tactician got the opportunity for a pre-match chat with his countryman Lucescu and Pantelis Konstantinidis, with whom he worked together at PAOK and in Saudi Arabia.
The Belgians started strongly into the match and got the lead after 16 minutes, with an impressive strike by Daniel Opare. PAOK responded by claiming possession and leveling in the 33rd minute, with a flawless finish by Lazaros Lamprou. However, Royal Antwerp FC did regain their lead before the interval with a Jonathan Bolingi header meeting a cross by Sambou Yatabaré.
In the second half, the match pace dropped due to substitution interruptions. Bölöni’s troops got a two-goal lead with a powerful drive by William Owusu from inside the box and Yatabaré had his shot denied by woodwork. PAOK came close to reducing distances with efforts by Yevhen Khacheridi and Stelios Kitsiou in the last 10 minutes of the encounter.