Striker to miss Kiev match

Panathinaikos striker Dimitris Papadopoulos has withdrawn from the Greece squad to play Ukraine in a World Cup qualifier in Kiev on Saturday. Papadopoulos suffered a thigh strain after scoring the only goal in his team’s 1-0 win over Appollon Kalamaria on Sunday. He is also expected to miss Panathinaikos’s next Champions League match at home to Arsenal on October 20. Greece coach Otto Rehhagel has not named a replacement and, at this stage, has only two recognized strikers for the Group Two match. European champions Greece have taken only one point from their first two qualifiers. The team’s astonishing triumph in its previous campaign, Euro 2004 in Portugal in the summer, was not reflected in a 35-strong shortlist announced by FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, for its Player of the Year award. Only one member of Greece’s victorious European Championship squad, captain Theodoros Zagorakis, who helped guide the Greeks to one of the biggest shocks in football major tournament history in July, was included on FIFA’s shortlist. Other star members, such as striker Angelos Charisteas and top-rated defender Traianos Dellas, missed out. The winner will be announced at FIFA’s closing ceremony of its centenary anniversary function at the Zurich Opera House on December 20. Zagorakis was named player of the tournament after Greece beat hosts Portugal 1-0 in the Euro 2004 final. In contrast, Copa America winners Brazil have five nominees, including three-time winner Ronaldo, who skipped the tournament in July after a disappointing season with Real Madrid. Adriano, who replaced Ronaldo in the event in Peru and ended up as top scorer with seven goals in six games, will be one of the favorites for the prestigious trophy. The list also includes last year’s winner Zinedine Zidane, also of Real Madrid, who has since announced his international retirement after a disappointing Euro 2004 with France. Zidane won FIFA player of the year in 2003 for the third time. England’s Wayne Rooney, 18, who was arguably the top performer in Portugal before limping out early in a quarterfinal defeat on penalties by the hosts, will also be expected to feature high in the judging by a panel of experts. He enjoyed a hat-trick debut performance for his new club, Manchester United, in his Champions League debut last week in a 6-2 victory over Fenerbahce. (Reuters, AFP)