Rehhagel recalls two strikers

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel recalled strikers Giorgos Samaras and Fanis Gekas to the national squad yesterday ahead of two upcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers, on October 7 in Athens against Norway and in Bosnia four days later. The two strikers were both dropped for Greece’s opening qualifier, a 1-0 win in Moldova early this month, and were among 11 foreign-based players selected by Rehhagel. The German coach is expected to reveal his full squad later in the week. In recent weeks, both Samaras and Gekas – who played in Greece’s last friendly game ahead of official Euro 2008 qualifying action, a 4-0 away defeat against England – have enjoyed a good start to their club seasons. Samaras scored twice to help Manchester City beat West Ham over the weekend. Gekas has scored once in his first three matches for his new club, VfL Bochum in Germany. In club-level soccer, Dusan Bajevic, who ranks as the most successful coach in Greek soccer, with strings of league and cup titles at AEK, Olympiakos and PAOK over the past 15 years, appeared closer to joining Panathinaikos yesterday. The Athens club, without a coach after sacking Swede Hans Backe early in the season when Panathinaikos was confined to a 1-1 home draw by Ukranian club Zaporizhya in a first-round, first-leg UEFA Cup match, has reportedly agreed on all terms with Bajevic. But Panathinaikos still needs to reach a deal with the Belgrade club. Panathinaikos, reports said, is willing to offer between 300,000 and 400,000 euros, while Red Star Belgrade has set a price of 1 million euros. Despite the discrepancy in price, it is widely believed that a deal will be reached. The 58-year-old Bajevic, it was reported, has already begun making plans for his new team. The Belgrade club, reports said, has already decided on Bajevic’s successor, Ratomir Dujkovic, the man who led Ghana to the Final 16 at last summer’s World Cup finals. In another coaching development yesterday, Xanthi’s Yiannnis Matzourakis resigned after a disappointing start in the season, both domestically and in Europe, in the UEFA Cup qualifier. Xanthi, which lost its first-round, first-leg UEFA Cup encounter at home to Dinamo Bucharest with a 4-3 score, lies third from bottom in Greece’s Super League with two points from three games.