SPORTS

Defensive errors cost national team

Most Greeks were filled with disappointment and anger as they watched their national soccer team practically go down without a fight in its opening game at the World Cup against South Korea on Saturday at South Africa’s Port Elizabeth. After its fourth loss in as many games in the history of World Cup finals – again without scoring a single goal – Greece is seeing its chances to advance to the knockout stages diminish dramatically. The Asians’ 2-0 victory has given them the upper hand in the group. It was a bad day for everyone in the squad, including coach Otto Rehhagel, who has already borne most of the criticism for Greece’s miserable performance – reminiscent of the three defeats suffered by the national team two years ago at the European Championship in Austria. The Greeks conceded one goal in the seventh minute of each half with the Koreans outplaying and outrunning them for most of the game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. Rehhagel’s men were made to pay for their defensive errors, as they failed to clear the ball in the air over the box in the seventh minute, allowing Lee Jung-Soo to give South Korea the lead from close range. In the 52nd minute, Loukas Vyntra gifted the ball to Manchester United’s Park Ji-Sung, who flew past Avraam Papadopoulos to make it 2-0 and take the game beyond the hapless Greeks. The blue-and-whites only came alive in the last quarter of the game. Yet, despite efforts by Fanis Gekas and Dimitris Salpigidis, they were unable to turn their dominance into goals. They now hope they will improve for their second game, against Nigeria, at Bloemfontein on Thursday. In the group’s other game, Nigeria suffered a 1-0 loss to favorite Argentina.