Under-19’s: New season, same dreams and ambitions
The team’s unthinkable 70-match unbeaten streak and three title wins in a row could act as a focus point of pressure and anxiety. Well, that may be the case for most clubs, but the education of PAOK Academy players is not about numbers.
Those numbers, you see, are a natural consequence of a methodical process that, if nothing else, both pays off and impresses in equal measure. Fro the Under-19 team, a new season is kicking off with dreams, ambitions and goals that are non-negotiable demand: a constant effort for improvement.
This year’s crop of Under-19 players, that of the 2020-21 season, under the technical leadership of Pablo Garcia and Miroslav Sznaucner along with the same coaching team – which now counts three consecutive championships with a series of 70 games without defeat (the last loss came on 10.12.2017) – starts their league campaign on Saturday 12.09 against Larissa. The game will take place at 17.30 in Souroti. And the aim for this season, is nothing other than to continue ‘as normal’, in the same vein.
The team is made up of essentially four generations of talented footballers. The generation of 2000, which has largely left its mark, have now moved on, while the group born in 2001, who also celebrated league titles, remain in the shape of Panidis, Giaxis, Tachatos, Kaloutsikidis, Pournaras and Xifilinos, while the returning Vrakas is a new addition. Three of them have the right to participate in championship matches.
Those born in 2002 (Balomenos, Panagiotou, Dajko, Aventisian, Grosdis, Karaberis, Tzolis, Tsopouroglou, Pipiliaris, Gorteziani – including the new players Zambou Nguemechieu and Arber Cani – are also champions in almost all categories. The generation of 2003, champions at Under-17 level, are going to be added (Tsioptsis, Koutentakis, Konstantelias, Darelas, Tsiakoumis, Kitsakis, Koulierakis, Manolioudis). Some of those players have already appeared for the Under-19’s last season. Finally, also added to the Under-19 squad is Koutsias , and some of the younger players, i.e. those who were born in 2004 and belong to the Under-17 squad (Monastirlis, Koutsias, Smyrlis, Spyrakos, Tsikos, Koulouris).
It should be noted that almost all of them are internationals, with a few winning honors, while they are expecting to play another season in the UEFA Youth League, the fourth consecutive year that PAOK will be represented, something which will give those players even more valuable experiences. Obviously due to the conditions created by the pandemic, it is not yet clear when and how the UEFA Youth League will start.
Goalkeepers: Konstantinos Balomenos, Alexandros Tsiopsis, Dimitrios Monastirlis
Defenders: Panagiotis Panagiotou, Ajdin Dajko, Efstathios Tahatos, Aventis Aventisian, Konstantinos Koulierakis, Ioannis Manolioudis, Petros Kaloutsikidis, Vassilios Kitsakis, Georgios Tsiakoumis, Arber Cani
Midfielders: Vassilios Grosdis, Thomas Karaberis, Ioannis Konstandelias, Dimitrios Tsopouroglou, Kyriakos Giaxis, Titos Koutentakis, Argyrios Darelas, Georgios Koulouris, Zisis Tsikos, Georgios Vrakas
Forwards: Vassilios Gorteziani, Christos Tzolis , Dimitrios Xifilinos, Dimitrios Panidis, Georgios Koutsias, Ioannis Pipiliaris, Theodoros Pournaras, Lambros Smyrlis, Nikolaos Spyrakos, Donaldoni Zambou Nguemech
Coach: Pablo Garcia
Assistant coach: Miroslav Sznaucner
Second assistant coach, video analysis: Ioannis Ambatzidis
Goalkeeping coach: Vassilios Petropoulos
Fitness coach: Theocharis Komsis
Doctor: Argyris Karavelis
Physiotherapist: Stavros Terzanidis
Minder: Evangelos Babatsis
General manager: Konstantinos Iosisfidis