Straightforward draw for national volleyball team Germany, Belgium and Romania will be the men’s national volleyball team’s opponents in the European League of 2009. Greece is drawn in the relatively easy second group of the competition, which starts on June 5. The final four of the competition will be staged on July 17-19. The women’s team will take part in the first group, along with Serbia, Bulgaria and Spain. «This is a very difficult group as we will have high-level opponents; they are teams who are big contenders in all major competitions,» said the women’s team coach, Yiannis Nikolakis. The men’s team is yet to appoint a coach. Nikos Xylouris retires from swimming One of the best Greek swimmers of the last decade, Nikos Xylouris, retired yesterday. He took part in the Christmas grand-prix of the swimming federation at Agrinio over the weekend. The 26-year-old has won two bronze medals in the 2002 and 2006 European Championships in the 4 x 200 meters freestyle and swam in the final of the Olympic Games in Athens in the same event. He has also won a gold and a silver medal in the Mediterranean Games. Alyfantis record In the same grand-prix at Agrinio, Romanos Alyfantis broke the national short-course record in the 200 meters breaststroke, clocking 2 minutes, 9.15 seconds, four hundredths of a second better than his own previous record from the same event last year. Samaras on target Giorgos Samaras was once again on target for Celtic in the Scottish league. The Greece striker scored his club’s first goal over Falkirk yesterday in the Bhoys’ 3-0 away win. Celtic leads the Scottish table by four points from Rangers. This was Samaras’s 10th goal this season. Panellinios on top Panellinios will spend Christmas in the top spot of the handball table after beating visiting Diomidis Argous 28-23. The Kypseli side has a two-point lead over Thermaikos, who downed Apollon Kalamarias 34-27 away, and AEK, who defeated Minotavros 32-27.