Panathinaikos fires coach Ferreira for bad results

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Panathinaikos fired coach Jesualdo Ferreira on Thursday after a string of disappointing results in the Greek league, replacing him with former player and coach Juan Ramon Rocha.

The 66-year-old Ferreira was appointed two years ago, but the club quickly lost ground this season to main rival Olympiakos.

The club said the Portuguese coach would be formally replaced later Thursday by the Argentine-born Rocha, a former Panathinaikos great who has also coached at other Greek clubs.

Rocha coached Panathinaikos during its run to the Champions League semifinals in 1996, and played for the team when it reached the European Cup semifinals in 1985.

On Monday, Panathinaikos was held to a 0-0 draw by Kerkyra after a dismal performance on the island of Corfu, and is currently sixth in the 16-team league after 10 matches, 15 points behind leader Olympiakos.

Ferreira said he helped the club through the financial crisis, but that the fans had ultimately turned against him.

"Mistakes were made -- by me, too -- but there was little margin for maneuver," he said. "I feel that I am no longer a solution for Panathinaikos but part of the problem ... I am leaving to protect the club."

Panathinaikos plays second-place PAOK on Sunday.