Rehhagel makes minor changes to Greek squad for Euro qualifiers

Greece’s national soccer team coach Otto Rehhagel made two changes to the squad, announced yesterday, for Euro 2004 qualifiers away to Spain on June 7 and at home against Ukraine on June 11. AEK midfielder Costas Katsouranis gets a debut call, while veteran goalkeeper Fanis Kateryiannakis is preferred to Iraklis’s Costas Halkias. Under-21 international Katsouranis has been pushing for a first full cap since a goal-scoring performance against Real Madrid in the Champions League earlier in the season. Greece faces a daunting trip to group leaders Spain in Zaragoza, looking to make up for a 2-0 home defeat in their opening qualifier. Four days later Rehhagel’s men take on Ukraine in a match that could decide who takes the runners-up spot in Group 6. The teams are level, each with six points after four games, but Ukraine has the advantage after a 2-0 win in Kiev. Rehhagel has kept faith with out-of-favor Newcastle defender Nikos Dabizas who has not played in the premier league since December. The 29-year-old center back has been training with Greek league champions Olympiakos in a bid to maintain fitness and is expected to start alongside Roma’s Traianos Dellas in Spain. In attack, AEK’s Demis Nikolaidis has been ruled out with a knee injury, meaning an extended run for Olympiakos’s Lambros Houtos. The former Roma striker scored a crucial two goals for the Piraeus team on Sunday as they demolished Xanthi 5-1 to claim the Greek championship for a record seventh consecutive season. The full squad is the following: Goalkeepers: Fanis Kateryiannakis (Olympiakos) and Antonis Nikopolidis (Panathinaikos); Defenders: Stelios Venetidis, Paraskevas Antzas (both Olympiakos players), Takis Fyssas, Sotiris Kyrgiakos, Yourkas Seitaridis, Yiannis Goumas (all four players from Panathinaikos), Nikos Dabizas (Newcastle United) and Traianos Dellas (AS Roma); Midfielders: Costas Katsouranis, Vassilis Tsartas, Vassilis Lakis, Theodoris Zagorakis (all four players from AEK), Giorgos Georgiadis, Pantelis Kafes (both PAOK players), Stelios Yiannakopoulos (Olympiakos), Giorgos Karagounis, Angelos Basinas (both Panathinaikos players) and Yiannis Amanatidis (VFB Stuttgart); Strikers: Angelos Haristeas (Werder Bremen), Zissis Vryzas (Perugia) and Lambros Houtos (Olympiakos). (Reuters)

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