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Posted by George Tsitsonis on 06/17/2010

Yes! Yes! This is what we have waited our whole lives for! Greece’s 2-1 victory over Nigeria on Thursday in Bloemfontain gave Greek supporters around the world something that looked very unlikely after the first match against South Korea: reason to hope.

The win is even more amazing when you consider the poor psychological state the team were in after a forgettable loss to South Korea on Saturday. On top of that misery came Nigeria’s goal in the opening stages of today’s match and it really appeared it would be more of the same, another tournament, another World Cup that would end with a whimper. However, this time it was all different.

Today's performance gave all Greeks a reason to be proud as it was a display full of passion and pride, of guts and heart.

Truth be told, one game changes everything, but one kick can change everything to. Sani Kaita’s outrageous kick on Vasilis Torosidis for absolutely no reason was worthy of a red card and was the turning point of the match for sure. It was the stroke of luck that this team needed and suddenly Greece became a team possessed.

The chances started to come thick and fast, from a team with no movement we suddenly had players running every which way trying to create space and we also did a superb job of playing the ball into wide positions and stretching the Nigerian backline.

All of this endeavor was rewarded on 44 minutes when Dimitris Salpingidis made World Cup history for Greece scoring his nation’s first ever goal in the competition. It had a degree of luck for sure with a defelction, but no one cared about that and were then back level.

I had tears of joy streaming down my face because it is a goal some of us have been waiting a lifetime for. One goal that never came in 1994, and one that after the South Korea match we wondered if it would come here in South Africa. It was a special moment and one that this lucky correspondent will never forget.

The second half proved to be our best half of football in a long time. We created so many chances and it was only a matter of time before we put one home, which the spectacular Vasilis Torosidis did in the 71st minute.

It could have been different for sure if Chinedu Ogbuke didn’t contrive to miss from 8 yards out just 10 minutes before however those are the breaks you need to win and we got all of them today.

A huge congratulations to the entire team on behalf of all Greek supporters. Everyone played a hand in helping Greece win their first ever World Cup match, but the likes of Torosidis, Alexandros, Tziolis, Giorgos Karagounis, Sotiris Kyrgiakos, and Avraam Papadopoulos really shined in my eyes. Credit to Rehhagel as well. The decision to thrown on Georgios Samaras before halftime was crucial in how the match finished. Samaras was not great, but he was always a threat going forward and gave the Nigerian defense another player to keep their eye on.

I have already heard criticism of how “Greece can only win against 10 men” and I won’t bring this up again, but that is just plain ludicrous. There have been teams when reduced to 10 men who play fantastic and teams who have a man advantage that can’t create a chance. We did what we had to do and credit the lads for that, it doesn’t matter if you are playing against 11 or 8, when you are down a goal and you are facing elimination you have to rise to the challenge and do something special. Greece did just that today.

More on all of this in the coming days. Can we really beat Argentina? I say why not. I’m not trying to get ahead of ourselves here, but the boys today gave us reason to hope, not just because of the goals and the victory but more so because of their willingness to turn the tide, to fight to the finish and to deliver a performance with quality but also with huge amounts of passion. Greeks around the world can stand up with their heads held high today thanks to the performance against Nigeria. For today let’s celebrate this fantastic and historic win, I’ll be with you in the coming days to analyze this game more and to look ahead to the match against Argentina. ESPN is right, One Game Changes Everything! BRAVO ELLAS!!!! ELLAS, BOREIS, BOREIS NA PROKRITHEIS!!!!!

What do you think? How did this huge win make you feel? What about chances for the next round? Send over your stories, comments, and thoughts, can’t wait to hear from you as always!

Comments

Posted by JDH on 06/17/2010

I was at work watching the game in our "break area" doing work on my laptop...needless to say not much work got done, as the energy of the game had me too excited to look away. The yell in the middle of the second half after Torosidis finish had everyone in the lunch area giving me odd looks, but why should I care?

Torosidis on the left and Salpingidis on the right were the firecrackers the team needed, the energy that was lacking in game 1 was back for game 2.

On to Argentina, a result there, and some luck in the Nigeria / Korea match to move on...

Bravo Hellas!

Posted by Tasos on 06/17/2010

EXCELENT article... It really touched me!

This win made me "explode"... Those goal exultation reminded me the goal exultations i had back in 2004 were Greece won the European Championship. I am feeling positive about the next match, i have some worries though... Argentina is quite strong!!!

BUT!: Greece have shown many times this kind of "reversal".. it's a "secret weapon" we have, the weapon of underestimation! (see: Greece - France @ Euro 2004 or Greece - USA @ Mundobasket 2006)

Thanks again for that gorgeous article, George Tsitsonis.

-Tasos

P.S. Sorry if i did any mistakes on my Comment, you see i was never really "in" with this English language hehe.

Posted by Thanasis on 06/17/2010

Finally something special to cheer....I actually think if they could bring MORAS in to make defense much stronger...

Posted by Greekfreak on 06/17/2010

Geia sou re Giorgo; I'm typing this at 7:11 am in the morning in Korea (thankfully my exams are done, so I don't have to teach today until very late), and my kefi still hasn't even reached fever pitch.

We fully deserved the win, and but for the outstanding Nigerian keeper, should have won by at least 3-1. He deserved the man of the match award, and Gekas must be kicking himself for not getting on the scoreboard when he could have very easily.

I, too will not hear about how we had to beat a 10-man Nigeria--the guy clearly lost it for no reason (he had lost the ball cleanly), and in the World Cup, people get sent off for less. Had he not been sent off, I feel we would have tied the game at least.

Posted by ELLADA on 06/17/2010

What a great nite for us Greeks in Australia last nite. We are beaming with pride and will be celebrating until Argentina most probably kick us out, but while there is hope we will BELIEVE.

HELLASSS OLEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HELLLASSS OLEEEEEEE

Posted by MAVRODIS on 06/18/2010

Mr Tsitsonis
Felicitation for the above writen by you.
For the next very critical game all the Hellenic
people expect the wild compatible glances and the guts.

Posted by maguziak on 06/18/2010

Wonderful Performance!
And yes the kick deserved a red card and although people might degrade this victory because of that, what matters is opportunity came, and we took it by storm.
I have to give the credit to the players. (And the coach I guess)
Unlike the first game, we had a "team".
Players were constantly giving thumbs up to each other and complementing each other.
I was most impressed by Salpingidis.
My goodness, how the little man was a constant threat to Nigeria, and his relentless effort for the ball truly demonstrated what playing futbol with passion and heart is all about.
Same goes to Captain Karaghounis.
I haven't seen him play like that for a while, but he has been a key figure of our team for quite some time, and whatever happens with Argentina game, he can keep his head held high in what is his last tournament as a player.

Posted by Nondas on 06/18/2010

We did it! I can't agree more! the feeling of joy in my heart and pride that we finally scored our first goal and not only, but put in another one and got the 3pts is more than this Greek can handle! But I should be used to it I guess! I'm so damn proud of the guys coming out there and giving it their all for the team and all Greeks everywhere! Now we have a chance going into the final match of the group stage and what else could we ask for than that... I truly believe the goys will fight tooth and nail for at least a draw and now that we got that monkey off our backs we have the confidence to score again and believe! Strength and Honor re paidia! I love it! Good Stuff! Thanks George for the blog!

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