SPORTS

EPO chief thinks Otto will stay

The national soccer team’s coach Otto Rehhagel will find it hard to resist an offer already made to him to extend his contract beyond the Euro 2008 finals next summer, the federation’s boss contended during a radio interview in Athens yesterday. «The World Cup qualifiers stand as a challenge for the coach,» Vassilis Gagatsis, the head at Greece’s soccer federation (EPO), told Athens 98.4 FM Radio. «His decision will be greatly influenced by who will be in charge at the federation as well as the board members,» Gagatsis continued, referring to upcoming EPO elections. Greece is preparing to defend its European soccer title at next summer’s Euro finals in Austria and Switzerland. The national team’s next challenge will be to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals, to be staged in South Africa. Greece failed to make the previous World Cup finals in Germany in 2006, depriving the German coach of the opportunity to lead his Greek team on home territory. Besides the administrative developments at EPO, Gagatsis said the team’s performance at Euro 2008 would also help shape Rehhagel’s decision on a new deal. His current contract expires after the Euro 2008 finals. Despite persistent questions from journalists, Rehhagel has not disclosed his future plans. Gagatsis, commenting on his own future with respect to the EPO elections, said: «I don’t think people are interested in whether I’m going to stay at EPO or go. It’s too early for me to say whether I will run or not.» But he did admit that «the World Cup is also a major challenge for me… The fact that the national team again qualified for the Euro finals is a success, but what I want is a good course to the next World Cup finals.» Greece has qualified for the World Cup just once before, in 1994, but returned home early as a disgraced side with three heavy losses in as many games. Greece is set to face Israel, Latvia, Luxembourg, Moldova and Switzerland in World Cup qualifiers beginning next