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Posted by George Tsitsonis on 06/07/2010

Hello once again everyone. We are nearly there, only a few days left until it all starts. The Greek side has touched down in South Africa and has already held a couple of training sessions. The atmosphere within the team and surrounding it appears to be really fantastic and this is surely good news in the lead-up to the tournament.

The only real bad news on the injury front at the moment is a knock to Bologna’s Vaggelis Moras who looks set, at this stage, to miss out on the opener against the South Koreans. Moras is a solid center back and he did well in qualifying specifically toward the end of the campaign. I still remember his performance in Donetsk and he is certainly a quality addition to the backline. Hopefully he will recover in time, if not then at least he will be available for the second match versus Nigeria.

Correspondent Prediction

Okay, so since we are pretty close now I am going to offer my two cents on how we’ll do in South Africa. I will go on the record as saying I already feel better than back in 2008 when I felt that the weight of expectation would hurt us at the European Championship.

I’m not sure if it was that expectation or just the fact that we played awful which brought about a quick exit from that tournament, however I do believe there will be a vast improvement on that performance.

Now the friendlies didn’t give us the best send off to South Africa, though I found it slightly encouraging that we figured out that we had issues to deal with. There is nothing like getting a wake-up call before the tournament rather than being 20 minutes into your first World Cup match and finding yourself down 2-0. Obviously I would have preferred some solid play against North Korea and Paraguay, but I prefer to look at the positives.

So, here it goes… Greece will make it to the quarter-finals! Regular readers (all 4 of you) of my column will know by now that I am an eternal optimist, but even I can’t be crazy enough to suggest that this Greek side will go to the last 8 of the World Cup, can I?

The answer is yes. I believe we will defeat South Korea on Saturday. I really rate the South Korean team, but I feel that the boys will come ready to play and if we impose our game on South Korea then I am hopeful of a good result. Assuming we defeat South Korea, I truly believe we will eke out a result of some sort against Nigeria and hopefully four or six points will be enough to advance. Obviously, banking on getting points against Argentina in the group finale is not something that I hope we have to do, however by that point hopefully Argentina are already qualified for the next round and won't have as big of an incentive to give everything against us.

After that it would be a team from Group A in the Round of 16. We are a team built for knockout round matches so though all four teams have my respect, I would not fear any side from Group A in a one-off scenario. After that is pointless to predict as who knows what will happen, but that is my hopeful forecast. I know some of you will laugh, but it’s all about who is laughing in the end so we will see.

Feeling Thankful

That is my wishful thinking, but I have learned in life sometimes you need to do just that. Advancing to the second round is the real goal, but even a valiant effort that comes up short will be embraced and applauded. Remember that our World Cup history is virtually non-existent. What I really hope this World Cup does is give us a basis to build on, a first goal, a first point, a first win and whatever comes after that will be the cherry on top or the syrup drizzled over the baklava, whatever you prefer.

The fact that we are here is fantastic in itself. Instead of adopting a team like Greeks are so used to doing when the world’s greatest sporting event comes around, we get to have that nervous feeling in our stomachs come Saturday, we get to feel that anticipation, the excitement, the passion, and the pride of hearing the national anthem played and the emotion that comes with it. Win, lose, or draw, we Greek supporters get all those things and the coaches and players deserve a big thank you for giving us that joy.

That is it for today, I will be back a few more times in the lead-up to Saturday’s match. I’ll give my assessment of South Korea before Saturday, my preferred starting 11, and all the news and build-up for what is really our World Cup Final, the opening fixture against South Korea.

As always I want to hear from you. How are you thinking we will do? How proud are you that Greece will be represented in South Africa? Send over your thoughts, views, questions, and criticisms. Your feedback spurs me on and inspires me to write about our lads!

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have commented so far or contacted me. It means a lot that you have taken your time to write and I value every single post that has been made. Thank you...Sas Euxaristw!


Posted by Kostantinos Charalabidis on 06/08/2010

Hi George,
thank you for your website and comments.
I am born and bred in Australia but within a strong Greek Community and Culture. I must say that although the Greek National Team has dissapointed us at times, in the last 6 years it has also achieved what no other Greek National Soccer team has ever bean able to achieve in the past.
I agree that they can go past the Group stage and the I also believe that they can get through the 16 and reach the final 8!
The Greek team has some quality players but there strength needs to come from the Team collectively, Greeks only accomplish the difficult tasks when they unite and work together which unfortunately does not happen regularly enough.
For me, I must say that I will be very nervous during their first game, the result of this will determine how they play in the following games.

Posted by Thanasis on 06/08/2010

Well lets hope we are not so flat like we were in Euro 2008, I am also thinking we will get 4 points but we must win our first game the chance is there after that anything can Greeks here in Melbourne Australia want another party so lets hope we get one....both with Greece and with Australia.

Posted by Bao Tran on 06/08/2010

man keep dreaming. face it you greeks check your calendars the year is 2010 not 2004, greece will be even lucky to score a goal in the world cup. my prediction, park ji sung to score 2 goals in the opener ;)

Posted by sucks bro on 06/08/2010

Greece won't win a game. They looked pants against Paraguay

Posted by Taijin Kyofusho on 06/08/2010

As long as there is serious improvement compared to the recent frendlies we re in with a chance of advancing to the final 16. The knock out stage suits teams like us a lot more. Reachin the quarter-finals is overly optimistic but who says we should be pessimists? This is just a game and this nervousness before the group stage matches just adds up to the fun.
The warmest of greetings to the Greeks that live outside the country.Cheers!

Posted by Akeem on 06/08/2010

George, Eternal Optimist you really are!
You going out in the first round. Nigeria and Argentina for the second round ;-)

Posted by Nondas on 06/08/2010

I too am an optimist, and though the road ahead is tough, no matter who we face; a goal, a point another goal and a win have got to be what we hope for. if all those happen, we will make it to the last 16! We should be proud to make it, and having that feeling of watching our countrymen play on Saturday in the World Cup will be nothing short of awesome, until we score that first goal, which will elevate the feeling to spectacular...
Godspeed Elladara!

Posted by Peter Stone on 06/09/2010

Nah George has a point, I think Greece could suprise a few people and teams. They are a tight, compact unit. I can't wait to see the All Whites spring a suprise :D

Posted by Asian Gooner on 06/09/2010

I'm sorry but i don't think your players will be able to cope with the Koreans' dynamism. Korea FTW. 2-0

Posted by Christos on 06/09/2010

Bao Tran, please keep you pointless Korean crap to yourself. the Greek squad has depth and great players, where as the Korean squad doesn't. they have 1 decent player, with the rest being a-league quality. plus Greek players like Samaras, Ninis, Karagounis, Gekas and Kyrgiakos would tear apart the lousy Korean team. Greek players play all around the world. Korean players play just in Korea. The league isn't that great quality. people say that the a-league is crap with all the Australian players, but at least they have players who play overseas. Korea doesn't have those players, they all play in the Korean dud league

Posted by George on 06/09/2010

Hey, just wanted to thank all you guys for commented, yes even those of you who slammed me for picking Greece to go to the quarters.

It's nice to see so many Greek fans (Christos,Peter Stone, Nondas, Taijin, Thanasis, and Konstantinos) have faith in this team and be hopeful that we can make an impression in this tournament. Thank you guys! Your comments give me more hope and I am even more excited now!

Sucks bro wrote that our poor performance against Paraguay will somehow affect us in SA. Don't fool yourself Bro, that match means just about nothing. All that matters is what happens on Sunday and to Asian Gooner, Akeem, Sucks Bro, and BAO Tran, thanks for writing, but watch out on Saturday for the Greeks to shock everyone once again!

Thanks again all of you for writing! Hope to hear from you again.

Posted by Careca on 06/09/2010

Greece will advance to the 3rd Round. We will beat Korea. tie Nigeria and tie Argentina to get through to the 2nd round with 5 points.

I agree with George, we should fear no one from Group A and it won't be a shocker when we win that match and we're off to the 3rd round.

Posted by maguziak on 06/10/2010

Nothing is guaranteed for anyone in the world cup, especially in this group B. I wish the best for Greece, but as a fan, don't say stuff like "we will go this far, or nobody from group A can beat us" As we all know from 2004, winner is not defined as the better team, but the team that scores more goal than its opponent. In 2006, after group stage was over, I was sure Switzerland was already through to round of 8 because Ukraine looked weak. Well, we all know what happened to the Swiss.

Posted by ARKOUDA on 06/10/2010

South Korea was a fluke team in 2002 because they played at home, the home teams have always done good in World Cups. Now you can go back to being a lackluster team with little quality.

Posted by ARKOUDA on 06/10/2010

Greece is here and eveywhere! We're going into this match feeling great! VICTORYYYYYY be with us!

Posted by Anonymous on 06/11/2010

I hope you beat Korea, it will be a tough match. If you can control the Korean midfield, your chances go up 1,000 fold. I spent quite a bit of time in Greece and I loved it! I live in Korea now, and I can't say I've got the same feelings. If Greece plays tight and stays organized for 90 minutes, your physicality ought to wear the Korean midfield and defense down. I wish I was feeling more optimistic, but I see a draw in store for Greece in the first game, 0-0 or 1-1. I think you are better suited for a win against Nigeria.

Posted by Ange on 06/12/2010

Korea 2 - 0 Greece. 1994 all over again? George I like your optimism, but I have more than some doubts about how good this team is. Why are Charisteas and Vyntra both in the starting 11? I know Moras is injured, but playing Vyntra in the centre doesn't make sense. They should have dropped Katsouranis back, and started Salpingidis up front at the beginning of the game for speed. Karagounis is no longer the workhorse he was, and he can not play full tempo for 90 minutes -so the only good decision today was substituting him at the half. The issue is the organization, tactics, and the fact that Otto is stuck in 2004. He needs to play younger more mobile players (Ninis!!!) to generate ball movement into the final 3rd of the field and to get Gekas and Samaras the ball. If he sticks with the veterans, we will have the same result as 1994. Nigeria is going to be a tough team to play against if Greece can't generate speed up the sides, or control in the midfield.

Posted by Kolokotronis on 06/14/2010

in the first few minutes of the greece vs korea match, the greeks displayed skill and a hunger for the ball. but then . . . it all went to skata.

there was no demonstrable willingness to take possession of the ball, with players just walking from left to right, and then back again. walking might get you in the guinness book of world records, but it's just not good enough to win matches.

there was no hunger. perhaps they should have eaten a chinese meal for lunch before the match instead of pastitio - one burp and . . .

in the televised version i saw in japan, i read a sign above the player entrance to the field which began "palikaria yia tin ellada . . ." perhaps that should have read "sloths yia tin ellada"?

very disappointing.

did you know the word "sloth" comes from the greek word "palikaria"? it's true - just ask michael constantine.

enough nonsense. i hope they play better next time.

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