Greece the Cup

The Cup final opposed Panathinaikos to Panionios. An interesting final… a Swedish final, for both teams were coached by Swedes: Gunder Bengtsson came in 1988 from IFK Goteborg to coach Panathinaikos and Bo Johansson came from Osters FF to coach Panionios also in 1988. As far as leading their charges to the Cup final, the Swedes succeeded… as for their Nordic clash, it depended mostly on the squad they had and rich Panathinaikos obviously had the more powerful team. As expected, Panathinaikos won – 3-1. All goals were scored in first half of the final.
Too bad Panionios lost, but reality was heavily against them – no matter what, Panionios was modest club and thus unable to make strong squad. They had only 1 foreign player and he was not even a starter – the unknown and mysterious Albanian Luiqim Bersemi. Since Albania did not export players yet, he was most likely a refugee somehow legalized to play. On the other hand, he may have been a Kosovar with Yugoslav citizenship and thus legally transferred to Panionios. In any case, he was unknown player – Panionios was not in position to buy solid foreign and domestic players, so playing at the Cup final was their maximum. Winning was impossible, even having a good coach – and Johansson left them after the end of the season to coach the national team of Iceland.
Panathinaikos won their 12th Cup. Standing from left: Sarganis, Samaras, Mavridis, Antoniou, Dimopoulos. Crouching: Kalitzakis, Chatziathanasiou, Georgakopoulos, Georgamlis, Saravakos.
What Gunder Bengtsson had at hand was a team with comfortable depth – various Greek national team players, led by stars Saravakos and Sarganis, plus strong foreigners. At the final, the foreigners were reserves – Claus Nielsen (Denmark), who joined Panathinaikos in the summer of 1988, more recent Jozsef Fitos (Hungary), who came in early 1989 from Honved (Budapest), and the veteran Argentine with Greek citizenship Juan Ramon Rocha, a staple of Panathinaikos since 1980. Eventually, Rocha played 20 minutes at the final, replacing Paris Georgakopoulos – it was almost a tribute to the retiring veteran. There were 2 other foreign players as well – both Australians by birth: Ioannis Samaras, who came to Greece at the age of 13 and thus had all his career in Greece. By now he was also a Greek citizen and a Greek national team player. He was recent recruit, bought from OFI in January 1989. Chris Kalantzis joined Panathinaikos in 1987 from Sydney Olympic and his Greek roots made him domestic player, but no more, for he was Australian national team player since 1985. Anyhow, Bengtsson had powerful team which if not capable to win the title, at least was able to win the Cup. So, at the end Panathinaikos saved the season – ended with a trophy and their arch-enemy Olympiakos with nothing.