Still something to accomplish in Hungary

Responding to coach Otto Rehhagel’s call for a fitting end to its Euro 2008 qualifying campaign, Greece, which had already secured its finals place, beat Malta 5-0 in its last home game Saturday to secure top spot in Group C. Greece lies seven points ahead of Turkey, which overtook Norway in second spot with a 2-1 win in Oslo. After 11 rounds, and one to go, Greece has accumulated 28 points. Turkey, on 21 points, and Norway, a point behind, will need to wait until Wednesday night to find out which of the two will snatch the group’s second berth. Should the Turks defeat Bosnia-Herzegovina at home, they will be certain of their Euro 2008 finals place, regardless of how Norway fares in Malta. Greece, Group C’s runaway leader, can further add to its accomplishment with a win in Hungary on Wednesday, which could improve its FIFA ranking and assure a more favorable draw in the qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup. Greece is currently 12th in FIFA’s rankings, just behind Croatia. If the Croats, already through to the Euro 2008 finals, fail to win in their final qualifier in Group E, away to England, which needs a win to be sure of its berth, and Greece beats Hungary, the national team will overtake Croatia in FIFA’s rankings and join the continent’s top-level teams in Pot A of the draw for group play leading to the 2010 World Cup. This means that Greece will avoid the top shots, at least theoretically, in its attempt to reach the next World Cup finals. As European champion, Greece goes into the Euro 2008 finals draw in Pot A. The draw, to equally divide the competition’s 16 contestants into four groups, is scheduled for December 2. Greece is one of 12 teams already through.