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!