SPORTS

Final test for Greece before Israel matches

The national soccer team will test itself against Denmark today at 9.15 p.m. at the Karaiskaki Stadium, in the last friendly before the crucial World Cup qualifying ties with Israel. «We want to have a good game, enjoy our soccer, allow our manager to reach the conclusions he needs and return in good shape to our clubs,» said Celtic striker Giorgos Samaras. Yet what is worrying coach Otto Rehhagel and Greek players alike is the indifference fans are showing toward the match, as ticket sales have been particularly slow – although season ticket holders will be allowed in for free. This, after all, is the last home game Greece will be playing for the time being as in April the team will be moving to Crete’s Pankritio Stadium. Tickets cost just 10 and 20 euros. Rehhagel called on fans to support the team, while Genoa defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos stressed that «the stadium should be full every time the national team plays, regardless of whether it is friendly or competitive. It is very important for players to have the fans by their side.» Olympiakos defender Vassilis Torossidis added, «We realize fans are disappointed after the defeat to Switzerland, but we need their help to qualify for the World Cup finals.» Certain to start are Giourkas Seitaridis, Torossidis, Angelos Charisteas, Fanis Gekas and Traianos Dellas, according to statements by Rehhagel, while goalkeepers Costas Chalkias and Alexandros Tzorvas will each play 45 minutes. Katsouranis will not start as he is suspended for the first game against Israel. Denmark has two uncapped players in its squad, Palermo’s Simon Kjaer and Aarhus’s Jakob Poulsen. Greece travels to Tel Aviv on March 28 and hosts Israel on Crete four days later.