If this latest international break had anything to offer us, it was as an antidote to the toxicity of recent times in the Greek league. And we have every reason to be proud of Giannis Konstantelias, who made his debut for the Greek national team with a smile and an applause. And of course for the young guns of the Greece Under-19 team, who qualified for the finals of Euro 2023.
Giannis Konstantelias hugged Dimitris Pelkas, smiled as only he knows how to, and in the 62nd of the match of the Euro 2024 qualifier against Gibraltar he entered the field to create and almost score himself in added time of the 3-0 victory. Against a team from Gibraltar, let’s not forget, was also his first competitive match in European competitions with PAOK. In the friendly game against Lithuania (0-0), Konstantelias also came on as a substitute in the 69th minute.
However, our «unlucky» player, Konstantinos Koulierakis, felt some discomfort during the training sessions and did not compete in any of the two games.
Regarding the qualification of the Greek Under-19 side to the eight best teams that will compete in the finals of Euro 2023 in Malta, we must emphasize that this is an important qualification that had not been achieved since 2015, and that this team has strong seal from the PAOK Academy. PAOK was represented with no less then 10 players, and three generations trained at the club (2004, 2006, 2006). Monastirlis, Tasiouras, Tsikos, Smyrlis, Spyrakos, Kottas, Goumas, Georgiadis, Deligiannis, and Tzimas (you must allow us to also add Giorgos Koutsias, Nikos Botis, and Tasos Symeonidis, players who grew up at PAOK). Even Filon and Adam (who are injured were members of the national team on their way up to the Elite Round). Greece recorded two wins and a draw and rejoiced with their hearts and souls after qualifying for the final stage.
Andrija Živkovic’s Serbia, moreover, recorded two victories in the qualifiers, taking an important step towards their presence in the final phase of Euro 2024. Starting for 81 minutes in the 2-0 win over Lithuania and participating for 45 minutes in the second half of the match against Montenegro (2-0), A.Zivkovic and Serbia are at the top of Group 7.
Thiago Dantas and the Portugal Under-21 side celebrated two victories in friendly games against Romania and Norway. In the 2-0 win over Romania, the PAOK player played in the second half, and in the 3-0 win over Norway, he started and was substituted at half-time.
Dominik Kotarski played the entire 90 minutes in the Croatian Under-21 team’s friendly game with England, which the Croatians won 2-1, while in the previous game with Israel (0-0), the PAOK goalkeeper did not play.
Diego Biseswar, however, was a starter amd played for 65 minutes in Suriname’s defeat (2-0) against Mexico in the Concacaf Nations League.
As for the Greece Under-21 side, they drew 1-1 with Belarus in their premiere for the Euro 2025 qualifiers. Panagiotis Panagiotou played the entire 90 minutes, while Christos Tzolis scored the opening goal of the game. In the friendly against Hungary (our national team lost 1-0), Balomenos played in the second half and Panagiotou in the first 45 minutes.
Regarding another of our youngsters from the generation of 2006, Max Scznauczner, he also celebrated qualification to the finals of the European Championship. A key member of the Polish Under-17 side, the son of Miroslav Scznauczner, played in the starting XI in all three matches of the Elite Round phase, held in Portugal to earn a place in the Euro Under-17 2023 finals which will take place this summer in Hungary.