Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

IN THE PAPERS

Germany's World Cup title

Read more

FASHION

Paris, Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Farnborough air show takes off but F-35 jet is grounded

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Bastille Day celebrations

Read more

TOUR DE TECH

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll increases in Sierra Leone

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Finally, a good use for new app "Yo"

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Viviane Reding, MEP, European People's Party

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Schulz returns to Parliament presidency: back to business as usual?

Read more

  • Live: France celebrates Bastille Day

    Read more

  • In pictures: 2014 World Cup historic moments

    Read more

  • Boules and booze: Bastille Day à la New Yorkaise

    Read more

  • Kremlin mulls 'retaliatory strikes' after death of Russian civilian

    Read more

  • Senegal honours the soldiers who fought for France in WWI

    Read more

  • Clashes erupt in Paris as thousands march to support Palestinians

    Read more

  • Operations underway to refloat shipwrecked Costa Concordia

    Read more

  • Germany defeat Argentina 1-0 to win fourth World Cup title

    Read more

  • Paris’s Bastille Day fireworks ‘a homage to victims’ of WWI

    Read more

  • Thousands flee northern Gaza after Israeli warning

    Read more

  • Major differences remain as deadline looms in Iran nuclear talks

    Read more

  • Rival Libyan militias exchange heavy fire at Tripoli airport

    Read more

  • French military to extend Mali 'counterterrorism' operations into Sahel

    Read more

  • Legendary conductor Lorin Maazel dies aged 84

    Read more

Sport

Greece hoping to boost nation with strong Euro showing

©

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-06-07

Greece's footballers are aiming to emulate the surprise triumph of their victorious Euro 2004 squad in the hope of lifting the spirits of the beleagured nation. Greece take on Poland in the opening match of Euro 2012 on Friday.

AFP - Greece are aiming to give their hard-pressed compatriots back home a rare moment of cheer here on Friday when they take on co-hosts Poland in the opening match of Euro 2012.

The Greeks have as a national squad been left largely untouched by the enormous financial hardships experienced by their fellow citizens, because of the cuts imposed due to the bailout terms imposed by the EU and others, but almost to a man their hearts are with them.

"We are a new team, with a lot of new players who are taking part in a major tournament for the first time," said Celtic striker Georgios Samaras, 27.

"All of us have on our mind the match with Poland and nothing else. As for how far the team can go, we will see in each match separately. It would be nice to give joy to the Greek people once again."

The squad is captained by Panathinaikos midfielder Giorgios Karagounis, 35, who scored the first goal in the shock opening win of the Euro 2004 finals against hosts Portugal, and he echoed Samaras' mood.

"We want to give joy to the Greeks. We will do our best, without stress and pressure, and hopefully bring back beautiful memories," said Karagounis, who went on to lift the trophy with his team-mates in 2004 beating Portugal again in the final.

At 24, Giorgos Tzavellas is one of the younger members of a Greek squad, whose average age is 27, but he is supremely confident they can spoil the Poles party.

"We don't have anything to fear against Poland," he said.

"I believe we can repeat our effort of 2004 when we spoiled the opener for the home team."

For Poland's young squad, average age just under 25, Euro 2004 is a boyhood memory.

Their stars number the likes of striker Robert Lewandowski, 23, who has enjoyed a stellar season with German double winners Borussia Dotmund, and Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, 22.

Polish football's long-lost glory days of the 1970s and 1980s, marked by Olympic medals and World Cup third places, are ancient history for that generation.

Over the past decade, Poland have raised and wrecked fans' hopes, with solid qualifying campaigns for the 2002 and 2006 World Cup and Euro 2008 turning into poor finals performances.

But the new side crafted by manager Franciszek Smuda since he took the helm in October 2009 are not overwhelmed by fans' expectations..

"All of us have played important matches, and will have more important ones still, in our career. I'm sure each one of us will handle that pressure," said Szczesny.

Midfielder Maciej Rybus, also 22, said he could barely wait for Friday's kick off.

"I'd like the Greece match to be today," he said.

"I'm going into the game with a really positive attitude. Greece are a good team, but on Friday we plan to prove we're better."

On paper, Poland are the 16-nation European championship's weakest team, ranked 62nd in the world by FIFA. They earned their berth only as hosts, like fellow organisers Ukraine.

Having failed to reach the 2010 World Cup, and not having had to qualify for Euro 2012, Poland will have gone 968 days with nothing but friendlies by Friday.

Greece, who qualified for the tournament without losing a game, are ranked 15th by FIFA, while Group A rivals Russia and the Czech Republic stand 13th and 27th.

"The first step is always the most important step, and the first step is the Greece match," said Poland captain Kuba Blaszczykowski.

"I believe that with a lot of luck, we can cause some havoc during the tournament. It all depends on how we play in the group stage. Success at that stage will give us a lot of self-belief and it will enable us to go further," added the highly-rated Dortmund midfielder.

Poland go on to face Russia on June 12, before wrapping up their group matches against the Czechs on June 16.

Greece meet the Czechs on June 12 and Russia on June 16.

Date created : 2012-06-07

Comments

COMMENT(S)