Greece debuts as Euro champ

In its first official game since it unexpectedly won the Euro 2004 championships in Lisbon on July 4, Greece’s national soccer squad faces Albania in Tirana today in a qualifying match for the 2006 World Cup. National coach Otto Rehhagel warned yesterday that Albania – which has not lost a home match for the past year and a half, could prove a hard nut to crack. «What we achieved in Portugal is not going to help us tomorrow,» he told a press conference. «All teams are starting this competition with the same points – none.» «This is the start of the season, and we have yet to get into our pace,» Rehhagel added. The match will be held under tight security. Yesterday the government announced that, in addition to the 4-million-euro bonus for Greece’s Euro 2004 success – about 173,000 euros per player – Rehhagel and his assistant coach would receive 50 and 25 percent, respectively, of what each footballer stands to get. Players have expressed discontent with the size of the bonus.

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