SPORTS

Soccer chief wants Rehhagel to carry on

FRANKFURT (AFP) – The Greek soccer federation wants German coach Otto Rehhagel to remain in charge of the European champions until 2009 despite a poor showing in the Confederations Cup. «I hope and I want him to stay with us for the next three years and that he extends his contract until 2009,» federation head Vassilios Gagatsis told Sport Bild magazine yesterday. Gagatsis said he would do everything in his power to persuade Rehhagel to remain in charge of the team he transformed from no-hopers into the surprise European champions in Portugal last year. «I don’t even want to think about what we will do after he has left,» Gagatsis said. Rehhagel has not revealed his future plans, only saying that his immediate goal is to help Greece qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals. Greece are currently third in their group, eight points behind Ukraine and one point adrift of Turkey. With only Ukraine seemingly assured of qualifying as group winners, Rehhagel’s men cannot afford to lose in their last three games, against Kazakhstan, Denmark and Georgia, if they are to qualify for a runners-up spot. Greece has a slim chance of qualifying as one of two second-placed teams by virtue of having the highest number of points among runners-up. But a berth as one of six teams who enter a playoff is more likely. If Greece fail to qualify and Rehhagel resigns, there are rumors that the Serb coach Dusan Bajevic would take over. Bajevic has won eight league titles and five cups in Greece with a variety of clubs.