NEWS

Greece learns Euro 2004 foes

Greece’s national soccer squad will kick off its second-ever appearance in the finals of the European football championships with maximum publicity, playing hosts Portugal in the tournament’s opening game in Lisbon on June 12. Yesterday’s draw in Lisbon for the four groups in the first phase of the finals pits Greece against Portugal, Spain and Russia. Each group’s top two will enter the quarter-finals. National coach Otto Rehhagel conceded that Greece, which last played in the finals in 1980, is a group outsider. «But even outsiders have a chance,» he said. «What counts most for us is that we will be in Portugal for the finals… It is also a great honor to be playing in the opening match.» Greece played in the same qualifying group as Spain, unexpectedly edging the 1964 European champions into second place. «We will have a chance to get some revenge, because [Greece] really made us suffer in the qualifying group,» Spain’s goalkeeper, Santiago Canizares, commented yesterday. In a November 15 away friendly, Greece, playing one man down for the last hour, drew 1-1 with Portugal.