SPORTS

Rehhagel delays contract decision

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel said yesterday that he would announce his decision on whether he will remain with the national soccer team in three weeks’ time. Rehhagel’s current contract with Greece ends following this summer’s Euro 2008 finals in Austria and Switzerland, where the national team will defend its European title. The Greek soccer federation’s chief, Vassilis Gagatsis, has repeatedly made public his interest in renewing Rehhagel’s contract ahead of Greece’s qualifying campaign for the 2010 World Cup to be hosted by South Africa. Greece launches the campaign in September. «I will give the Greek soccer federation my answer in three weeks,» Rehhagel said yesterday. «If I had to provide an answer now as to whether I’d stay, my answer would be 50-50.» Rehhagel yesterday named nine overseas-based players for a friendly match against Portugal in Dusseldorf on March 26. The nine-man preliminary squad includes Yiourkas Seitaridis, who missed Greece’s last two Euro 2008 qualifiers because of an Achilles heel injury, as well as Sotiris Kyrgiakos, whose participation in the friendly is doubtful because of injury. The defender broke his nose while playing for Eintracht Frankfurt against Bochum last weekend. At OIympiakos, rumors of who the club’s new coach could be are already rife less than 24 hours after the dismissal of Takis Lemonis. Jose Segura, the axed coach’s assistant, is expected to lead the team for the season’s remainder while the club seeks Lemonis’s successor. Names already mentioned as possible candidates include former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, currently at Atletico Madrid, former Valencia coach Quique Flores, who was sacked last October, and Ernesto Valverde, the coach at Espanyol since 2006. Veria, facing relegation in the Super League, yesterday named Yiotis Tsalouchidis, a former Greece international who played club-level soccer at Veria and Olympiakos, as its new coach. Third-division club Panachaiki, until recently a top-tier team, hired 42-year-old Greek-Australian Ange Postecoglou, who led Australia’s youth team between 2000 and 2007, as its new coach.