SPORTS

Tough group for Greece in World Cup 2018 qualifiers

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

Greece will have a tricky task to complete if it is to make its third FIFA World Cup finals in a row, as the draw that took place in Russia on Saturday has placed it in the same pool as fellow 2014 World Cup finalists Belgium and Bosnia, although it could have been far more difficult given Greece was in the third pot.

The draw in St Petersburg decided that Greece will face Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Estonia and Cyprus, all tricky opponents for a Greek national team that has lost twice to the Faroe Islands in the last eight months.

The poor results of the national team over the last 12 months meant Greece dropped to the third pot of the draw.

The top team of the group advances to the 2018 finals, while the runner-up will have to negotiate a home-and-away play-off. The qualifying round begins in September 2016.

Greece was represented in Russia by the head of the Hellenic Football Federation, Giorgos Girtzikis and two more officials, but neither manager Sergio Markarian nor national team director Giorgos Karagounis were present.

Markarian had tendered his resignation last Tuesday, Girtzikis asked him to stay on and Markarian made certain statements that pointed to Karagounis for creating problems to his work. It now seems that neither will form part of the national team set-up in the World Cup qualifiers.

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