SPORTS

Positive mood after victories

The overall mood in the Greece camp, preparing to defend its Euro 2004 soccer title this summer, was one of content following sound team performances, promising displays from several young newcomers and wins in this week’s two friendly internationals in Cyprus against the Czech Republic and Finland. Greece defeated Finland 2-1 late on Wednesday night following a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic the previous day. For its next pre-Euro 2008 test, Greece will meet Portugal, the team it beat in the Euro 2004 final, on March 26 in Germany, most likely in Frankfurt. Until then, Greece officials, players and fans are hoping that coach Otto Rehhagel will have announced his decision about whether he intends to extend his contract to lead Greece in its qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup finals. Rehhagel’s current contract is to expire after the Euro 2008 tournament this June. It is anticipated that Rehhagel will inform the Greek soccer federation of his decision early next month. Both the Greek squad and the federation chief, Vassilis Gagatsis, are confident that Rehhagel will carry on. Recent media remarks made by the German coach have vaguely implied that he will continue with Greece. For instance, earlier this week, following his team’s victory against the Czechs, Rehhagel, commenting on six young players who made their senior-level international debuts, noted that the intention was to build a team that would take Greece to South Africa for the 2010 World Cup finals. Even so, despite such suggestive remarks, Rehhagel has refused to elaborate on his plans. Contrary to the optimism felt here about his continuing with Greece, a recent article published by German newspaper Bild reiterated older reports connecting Rehhagel with a likely coaching job at the Austrian national team.