Santos Says Greece Will Bounce Back

first_imgATHENS – With Greeks and those in the Diaspora holding their heads after the homeland’s soccer team was humiliated 3-0 in its opening round World Cup match with Colombia, coach Fernando Santos shrugged it off.Known for its stalwart defense, Greece was defenseless in the face of the speedy attack by the Colombians, whose best players were injured, but still managed to run rings around the clueless Hellenes.Santos told reporters it was a bad start but not the end of the world, hoping to hold up the confidence of his shattered side. He said the players paid the price of a lack of focus at key moments in the game.“We should not make a drama out of it,” Santos said. “We must analyse what was less positive and what was positive, balance things, and organize our ideas,’ he said.The Greeks were outsmarted by the South Americans early in both halves and Colombia fired a stoppage-time third goal to put salt on the wound and solidify their ranking as favorites in Group C, which also includes Ivory Coast and Japan. Only two teams will advance to the next ground and goal difference is a crucial tie-breaker now working against Greece.“At the end of this type of match we have to congratulate our opponents because they were more efficient,” said the Portuguese coach, who is leaving the team after the tournament.“The first five, ten minutes we had some difficulties with our concentration, we were not focused enough. There were no surprises because we knew, I had told my players, what team we would play against. It was not different for their usual strategy,” he said, without explaining why the team wasn’t ready or couldn’t concentrate.The Greeks worked their way back into the game only to miss some good chances and hit the crossbar with a Fanis Gekas header but Santos said their conversion rate needed to improve for their second group game against Japan.“We could have scored a goal and we can say the result is exaggerated compared to how the teams performed on the pitch. We had our chances, we controlled the game for long periods of time,” with Greece having possession 54 percent of the time, but much of that was spent backpedaling and back-passing to keep the ball away from the Colombians, not trying to score.Santos said the players fell asleep at the end, giving up the extra-time goal which drove home the dagger. “Towards the end some of the players seemed to have forgotten what type of competition they were playing in. They were totally out of the game. Some of them, not all of them,” he said, without identifying who they were in his mind.“But some of them thought it was over. During the rest of the match they fought well but one or two minutes they were not focused enough. “It was bad and became worse with the third goal and it happened because of us. We were guilty,” said Santos.Greece’s reliance on stall-ball and defense was exposed when the team showed itself outclassed and incapable of keeping up with a speedy side that attacked constantly. Greek players could be seen lunging at the racing Colombians in exasperation.Greece faces Japan on June 19 before taking on Ivory Coast in its final group game and will need some wins to move on. In the last World Cup in 2010 in South Africa, Greece went 1-1-1 in its group but that was not enough to move on.TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img

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