Looking for break from pack

European champions Greece hope to move ahead of the pack with a victory over Hungary in a Euro 2008 qualifier on Crete tomorrow. Turkey is top in Group C on 13 points, one ahead of Greece. Bosnia, who hosts Turkey, also tomorrow, is third on seven points, along with Norway after five games. «We need to capture a first-class performance and play with passion and a good frame of mind,» Greece coach Otto Rehhagel told a news conference yesterday. «We’ve overcome the defeat against Turkey and proved it in Malta. You can only talk about qualification when you’ve mathematically assured it,» he continued. Seven-team Group C’s winner and runner-up will qualify for the Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland. Greece is forced to play the qualifiers against Hungary, and next week Moldova away from Athens, following a two-match ban on the Athens stadium imposed by UEFA after crowd trouble during their 4-1 defeat to Turkey in Athens in March. Just days later, Greece managed to rebound for a valuable 1-0 away win against Malta. The national team was received with enthusiasm by local fans on Crete, where the squad arrived Wednesday ahead of tomorrow’s game against Hungary. Greece also hosts Moldova on the island next Wednesday. «I’ve been informed that advance sales for match tickets are faring very well. All that remains is for us to please the fans,» said Rehhagel. «The situation could have been far more difficult had the UEFA penalty forced us to either play our home games abroad or without fans.» Greece, who will miss central defender Traianos Dellas due to injury, could also be without experienced left-back Takis Fyssas, who strained a muscle during training this week. Uncapped Nikos Spiropoulos, impressive throughout the season with his club Panionios, could start, as he is the only natural left-back in the squad. Hungary coach Peter Varhidi faces an uphill struggle with qualification almost out of sight as they linger in fifth place on six points and with striker Szabolcs Huszti leaving the team unexpectedly on Wednesday. Huszti, who plays in the Bundesliga for Hannover 96, is said to have been angered by his coach’s plans not to start him against Greece. Hungary have restored some pride following a defeat against Malta, with a 2-0 win over Moldova but are in desperate need of points. «We know Greece are the favorites but we will try to create an upset,» Varhidi told reporters late on Wednesday. «My players are physically and mentally ready.» (Reuters/Kathimerini)

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