Greece rallies for crunch match

Greece’s national soccer team has been gathering its thoughts ahead of tonight’s crucial Euro 2008 game against Russia, as coach Otto Rehhagel and his players appeared confident yesterday that they can overcome the disappointment of losing their opening match. The Greeks lost 2-0 against Sweden on Tuesday and must beat Russia to have a chance of getting through to the quarterfinals of the tournament which they won four years ago. «I am convinced my boys will give all they have,» Rehhagel told reporters yesterday. «The first few days it was hard to overcome our disappointment but by the time the game against Russia comes round we will be ready to go in and fight for what we want.» Defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos was upbeat ahead of today’s crunch game, saying that the side has recovered from disappointing defeats in the past and could do so again. Greece lost 4-1 to Turkey during the qualification for Euro 2008. But the team went on to win seven of their next eight games and held Norway to a 2-2 draw to qualify for the tournament with the most points of any team. The defender said that Rehhagel’s side is in a similar position again. «After we lost to Turkey, we didn’t lose a game and we qualified,» the 28-year-old said. «Every defeat in Greece is regarded as a catastrophe. The Swedes did their homework better than us,» Kyrgiakos said. «We lost a battle not the war.» Panathinaikos forward Dimitris Salpigidis said that the players realize they are in a tough situation. «We started badly and now our chances have been dangerously limited,» Salpigidis said. «We need to take four or six points from our next two games, but we’d like a win against Russia.»