SPORTS

Shock home loss to Faroe Islands puts Ranieri’s future in doubt

Greece co-starred one of European soccer’s biggest ever upsets as it witnessed the Faroe Islands beat the Euro 2004 champions 1-0 in Piraeus on Friday for the Euro 2016 qualifiers, a result that certainly puts the position of Italian coach Claudio Ranieri in doubt.

Taking nothing away from this glorious night for the islanders, this was a terrible performance for the Greek national team that fully deserves slumping to last in the pool table, with one point from four games and two behind the Faroe, that also deserved this rare away triumph.

The onus is now on the federation that has to decide on the future not only of the manager – after all what kind of a future can a coach who loses at home to the Faroe Islands have – but also of the whole national team set-up that has changed beyond recognition since last summer’s World Cup.

The Faroe players produced a great display, with their composed defending and their daring attacks, and even hit the woodwork twice, once in each half, before scoring the goal that will be remembered for generations on those shores.

It was right on the hour mark that the visitors threatened again the Greek defense that failed to clear the danger, and the ball came to Johan Edmundsson on the edge of the six-yard box who smashed the ball past Greece keeper Orestis Karnezis.

In fact the Greek goalie denied the visitors twice in the first half, as the Greek defense was all over the place. At the other end, the Greeks were visibly nervous, could hardly work their way toward the Faroe box and insisted on some poor crosses that were easy to deal with.

Greece’s best moment came one minute from the end when Panayiotis Kone wasted one more chance to score by hitting the crossbar.

However for most of the game forwards Fanis Gekas (in the first half) and Stefanos Athanasiadis (in the second) got hardly any service from the midfield. As a result the final attempts on target were five for the Faroe and four for Greece.

The next competitive game for the national team is on March 29 at Hungary, while on Tuesday Greece will host Serbia in a friendly at Hania. That will be interesting!

The hubris of infighting that has dogged Greek soccer in the last few days – culminating in the last 24 hours before the game with a referee official getting attacked, with one club owner accusing another and with the federation shedding crocodile tears by suspending next weekend’s league action – was punished with the nemesis of a humiliating home loss to the part-timers of the Faroe Islands in a competitive and crucial – for Greece – match.