Rehhagel takes Swedish test

In its most recent test since German coach Otto Rehhagel was appointed last summer, Greece’s national soccer team will face Sweden in a friendly home game tomorrow, one of 19 games to be played around Europe today and tomorrow, as teams begin their final preparations for this summer’s World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea. Greece failed to qualify, but Rehhagel, who took the reins after the national team was no longer in contention for a finals berth, has already billed tomorrow’s clash with Sweden, a finalist for this summer’s World Cup, as the start of preparations for Euro 2004, the European nations’ competition. The former Werder Bremen and Kaiserslautern manager has made few changes from his last squad, recalling Under-21 internationals Sotiris Kyriakos and Yourkas Seitaridis from Panathinaikos, and Christos Patsatzoglou from Olympiakos. PAOK’s impressive league form, which has seen the Thessaloniki team climb to second place, just two points behind frontrunner AEK, was recognized with four call-ups. Rehhagel has appealed for supporters to get behind their team, after less than 1,000 fans attended Greece’s last home match late last year, when the team was embarrassed with a 1-0 loss, at home, against Cyprus. Prior to that defeat, Greece had showed signs of promise by restricting and, according to many analysts, outplaying England for a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford – the English captain, David Beckam, had scored the equalizer moments before the final whistle – and trouncing Estonia 4-1 soon after. England, whose desperate draw against Greece had given the side its finals berth, will play one of the upcoming World Cup’s surprise absences, the Netherlands. The highly talented Dutch had outclassed England 2-0 in a friendly match at London’s White Hart Lane last August.

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