Socccer / Klinger Needs Results if He Wants to Stay

Last in the standings with just one point, Paralimni, Nir Klinger's Cypriot team, is looking bad - worse than even his former Maccabi Tel Aviv squad.

Last in the standings with just one point, Paralimni, Nir Klinger's Cypriot team, is looking bad - worse than even his former Maccabi Tel Aviv squad.

"The team is playing okay," says Cypriot sportswriter Dinos Kozakos, who covers Paralimni. "They weren't bad against AEL Saturday, but the referee was problematic. They played well in their other two defeats as well. Against Salamina (3-1) and Larnaca, in which they led 2-0 in the first half before losing 3-2. In its draw against league leader Apoel Nicosia, Paralimni looked terrible, and was lucky not to lose."

Despite the team's poor start, Kozakos thinks Klinger deserves to be given a chance. "Much of the squad has changed; it's a new team altogether," he says.

Kozakos may be right - the team brought in 10 new players, including five foreigners over the summer - but Paralimni's fans aren't in the mood to give Klinger time.

"In Cyprus, coaches are replaced all the time," says Manolis Hajikostis of Cyprus Weekly. "The fans here know how to pile on the pressure, and Paralimni's fans are no exception. Klinger has a problem, because he isn't coming up with results. Paralimni has to win its next two games against bottom-of-the-table teams Aya Napa on Saturday and Aris the week after. If he doesn't, his chances of staying on are not good."

Kozakos agrees that the next two games are critical for Klinger. "If he doesn't get good results, the chances are 90 percent that he will be out."

Kozakos says Paralimni Chairman Dimitris Tsisios' backing for Klinger isn't worth much. "Paralimni didn't get an easy start to the season, so for now, Chisios is saying everything is okay. But if Klinger doesn't get results against the bottom clubs, all that will change."

Tsisios himself is optimistic. "Klinger is my coach, and he needs to be given time," he says.

"Tsisios is patient compared to other Cypriot chairmen," retorts Kozakos. "But he has his limits, and they are approaching fast."

Klinger, meanwhile, has complained about the refereeing. "On Saturday, the match official was awful," Kozakos says. "But Klinger is always complaining about the referees."

Somethings just never change.

But Paralimni's fans would agree with Klinger on that point. They have an obsession with Cyprus' referees. It began over 30 years ago during the club's best-ever season when it came in second place and reached the cup final against Famagusta, in which it lost 3-2 after a series of scandalous decisions. It later transpired that the referee, Kiriakidis, had taken a bribe to fix the result. Kiriakidis was suspended for life, but the club's veteran supporters still curse the referees with the worst insult they can come up with Kiriakidis.

The fans miss their coach of last season, Israeli Eli Guttman, who returned home to Maccabi Netanya. "Guttman was considered a good coach," Hajikostis says. "He left the club because of a financial dispute with the chairman, and the fans miss him."

Hajikostis has harsh words for the players that Klinger brought with him. Those include Yaniv Azran from Ashdod, Paraguayan Aldo Adorno, who played for Klinger at Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Nigerian Eric Ejiofor, formerly with Maccabi Haifa and Ashdod.

"None of those players has been impressive to put it mildly," Hajikostis says. Luckily for Adorno, he scored the last time around."

Meanwhile the team's outstanding foreign player is goalkeeper Peter Milosevski, a Macedonian brought to the club by none other than Guttman.