SPORTS

EPO denies rift with Greek squad coach

The Greek soccer federation (EPO) has denied newspaper reports of a rift with national coach Otto Rehhagel in a statement released yesterday. The response follows reports of a row between EPO chief Vassilis Gagatsis and Rehhagel in Athens last week. «The reports are completely untrue and the product of the imagination of particular journalists,» EPO said. The federation added that the former Bayern Munich coach was not in Greece at the time of the alleged incident and had not met with Gagatsis since the beginning of February. EPO went on to accuse elements of the Greek press of deliberately seeking to create problems within the national team ahead of their Euro 2004 qualifiers. «Such reports coming one month before a critical match… create huge problems for the national team, which is exactly what they are intended to do,» said EPO. Greece, which is third in Group 6 behind Spain and Ukraine, plays its next qualifier in Northern Ireland on April 2. Rehhagel was recently linked with the coaching job at Bayer Leverkusen, but told the Bild newspaper he would honor his contract with EPO until the end of 2003. Rehhagel was appointed by EPO last year to replace Vassilis Daniil after Greece failed to qualify for the World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan. (Reuters)