Rehhagel remains silent

Greece looks likely to miss out on next year’s World Cup after losing to Denmark on Saturday but things could get even worse for the European champions. Their German coach Otto Rehhagel has yet to accept an offer to stay on with the team he led from complete obscurity to winning the second-biggest trophy in international soccer. Rehhagel, whose contract officially ends after tomorrow’s final qualifier at home to Georgia, could step down after more than four years at the helm. Greece still has a slim chance of clinching the second spot in Group 2, which has already been won by Ukraine, and a place in the play-offs should other results go their way. Rehhagel’s side must beat Georgia but that would still only be enough should Denmark fail to win in Kazakhstan, which has earned just a point from their entire qualifying campaign, and Turkey loses. A Turkey draw theoretically opens the door but would need Greece to win by eight goals. Rehhagel’s departure would mark the end of an era for the Greek team, as several players, many of them over 30 years old, would be unlikely to feature in the squad under a new coach. Rehhagel plucked Greece out of the shadows in September 2001 and catapulted them to the biggest upset in world soccer history when they beat hosts Portugal to win the 2004 European Championship. While both the Football Association and the players want to continue working with him, the German has not yet made up his mind. «I will continue coaching, that’s for sure. I just don’t know where,» Rehhagel told German television. Asked whether he had anything left to prove in Greece, he said, «I have nothing to prove to anyone anyway, only to my wife.» FA chief Vassilis Gagatsis was optimistic Rehhagel would stay. Midfielder Stelios Yiannakopoulos said: «Of course we want him to stay on. This was not a minor feat he achieved and I think he will decide to stay with us.» Rehhagel, who last year turned down a lucrative offer from Germany to lead the host nation at the 2006 World Cup, said he did not regret his choice.