Otto picks homegrown squad

Otto Rehhagel, the German coach of the national soccer team, has selected a squad made up entirely of home-based players for an international friendly tournament in Saudi Arabia at the end of January. Club commitments outside Greece ruled a number of players, including defenders Sotiris Kyrgiakos (Rangers), Takis Fyssas (Hearts), Giourkas Seitaridis (Dynamo Moscow) and midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos (Bolton), out of contention, but the decision to stick to players from the Greek league means that Rehhagel will be able to look at some of the new talent coming through. Iraklis midfielder Panayiotis Lagos, who was on the squad for the friendly against Hungary in November but did not play, retains his place, while newcomers like Vangelis Mantzios, Dimitris Salpingidis and Philippos Darlas will all get another chance to impress. Greece, the reigning European champions who failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup finals, will meet South Korea on the opening day of the tournament on January 21 and then play Saudi Arabia four days later. Finland is also taking part in the event. Rehhagel, whose contract was recently renewed to 2008, the year Greece will defend its European title, has been actively seeking young Greek players playing in foreign leagues to renew the team. Among the brightest young prospects are Costas Mitroglou, a 17-year-old playing for the junior squad of German club Monchengladbach, where he is the top scorer, and 19-year-old Antonis Rika, a midfielder in the junior squad of French club Marseille. The squad for the Saudi Arabian tournament is made up of the following players: Goalkeepers: Antonis Nikopolidis (Olympiakos Piraeus), Stefanos Kotsolis (Larissa). Defenders: Giorgos Anatolakis (Olympiakos), Michalis Kapsis (Olympiakos), Traianos Dellas (AEK), Yiannis Goumas (Panathinaikos), Loukas Vyntra (Panathinaikos), Philippos Darlas (Panathinaikos), Paraskevas Antzas (Xanthi). Midfielders: Theodoros Zagorakis (PAOK), Pantelis Kafes (Olympiakos), Costas Katsouranis (AEK), Panayiotis Lagos (Iraklis). Forwards: Nikos Lyberopoulos (AEK), Fanis Gekas (Panathinaikos), Dimitris Papadopoulos (Panathinaikos), Vangelis Mantzios (Panathinaikos), Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK).

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