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Rehhagel wants exceptional play

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel has called on his players to surpass their normal limits to secure victory in their potentially decisive World Cup qualifier against Denmark on Saturday. The European champions need to win in Copenhagen on Saturday and beat Georgia four days later to make sure they finish second in Group 2 and qualify for a play-off spot. «The importance of this game is known to us all and only a win will do,» Rehhagel told reporters yesterday. «Every player in my team must exceed his own capabilities in front of a sellout crowd in what must be an exceptional game,» he added. With Ukraine already through to the World Cup as group winners, Turkey, Greece and Denmark are locked in a tight battle for second place. Turkey is currently second with 20 points and one game left to play, while third-placed Greece, on 18 points, and fourth-placed Denmark, on 16 points, have two matches remaining. «Getting closer to the peak of the mountain, it always gets tougher and we must show we can climb the last few meters,» Rehhagel said. «I hope that on Saturday we will be ready to show our class.» Greece has not demonstrated the fighting spirit and grit that won the team the European championship in Portugal last year during this qualifying campaign. Rehhagel is likely to be without three key players with defenders Traianos Dellas and Takis Fyssas recovering from injury and striker Angelos Charisteas nursing a head wound. Charisteas, who plays for Ajax Amsterdam, clashed with Arsenal defender Kolo Toure during last week’s Champions League action, picking up a cut above his eye. «It looks like there’s a 99 percent chance he won’t be playing,» a team official told Reuters. «The injury is not minor.» Charisteas, Greece’s current top scorer with 14 goals in 48 matches, is likely to be replaced by in-form striker Nikos Lyberopoulos. His last-minute goal against Kazakhstan last month threw the European champions a lifeline and kept their qualification hopes alive. Rehhagel said he was aiming for «pre-game fever» which he hoped would transform into a match-winning performance. «Whoever plays – what I want from my players is pre-game fever,» he said. «I want them to feel a bit nervous going into the match because if you want to achieve great things in such competitions you must have that fever and then come up with a special performance on the pitch.» Asked about the atmosphere in the squad, Rehhagel said it was good. «I have always had great fun working with the boys and we know that we cannot win every game,» he said. «We are not Brazil.» (Reuters)