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Samaras opts to miss Cyprus friendly game

Celtic striker Giorgos Samaras will skip Greece’s friendly against Cyprus on May 19 to focus on his club’s crucial game against perennial rivals Rangers in the Scottish Premier League that is likely to determine the title race. Samaras was one of nine foreign-based players named by Greece coach Otto Rehhagel yesterday for the game against Cyprus, to be played in Patras, and a second friendly against Hungary in Budapest on May 24. There were no surprises in Rehhagel’s nine-man call-up. Greece, preparing for Euro 2008 next month, launches its quest to defend its European title on June 10 against Sweden in Salzburg.