SPORTS

Greece squad meets ahead of crucial home ties

After two wins in as many away games, the national soccer team is preparing for its first home ties for the World Cup qualification group on Saturday and next Wednesday. Otto Rehhagel and his players met yesterday for the first time this month for the first session before the games against Moldova and Switzerland. Of the 22 players called up, only Giourkas Seitaridis was unable to attend as his club, Atletico Madrid, claimed he was injured and would not allow him to travel to Athens. The national team’s doctor, Haris Christopoulos, has traveled to Spain to examine him. Otherwise the national squad was at full strength, including even the injured midfielder Giorgos Karagounis who is on the road to recovery and could feature in the match against Switzerland. «We have had a very good start with the two victories and now we have two games at home that we are obliged to win to get closer to our target,» said defender Avraam Papadopoulos. «In theory, smaller teams are always dangerous and demand plenty of caution just like every other game. I believe the fans will be at our side,» he added. «If you do not work hard on the pitch, if you do not give 100 percent, you cannot beat anyone,» noted experienced striker Nikos Liberopoulos. «Nothing can be taken for granted, there are so many games still to play,» was the remark of another defender, Sokratis Papastathopoulos. The squad consists of goalkeepers Costas Chalkias (PAOK) and Alexandros Tzorvas (Panathinaikos), defenders Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa), Traianos Dellas (Anorthosis), Sotiris Kyrgiakos (AEK), Loukas Vintra, Nikos Spyropoulos (Panathinaikos), Avraam Papadopoulos and Christos Patsatzoglou (Olympiakos), midfielders Vassilis Torisidis (Olympiakos), Costas Katsouranis (Benfica), Angelos Basinas (AEK), Giorgos Karagounis, Sotiris Ninis and Alexandros Tziolis (Panathinaikos) and strikers Giorgos Samaras (Celtic), Angelos Charisteas (Nuremberg), Fanis Gekas (Bayer Leverkusen), Nikos Liberopoulos, Ioannis Amanatidis (Eintracht Frankfurt) and Dimitris Salpigidis (Panathinaikos).