SPORTS

Greece team has ‘nothing to lose’

Greece manager Otto Rehhagel claimed his team has «nothing to lose» in tonight’s all-important World Cup clash against Argentina in South Africa. The Greek soccer team needs at least a draw to have any chances of qualifying from Group B but even victory by one or two goals cannot guarantee its qualification to the knockout stages. However, the fact that it has taken qualification down to the last game is an unprecedented success in itself. «We have a big game against Argentina, all world-class players, and we have nothing to lose,» the German coach said yesterday at Polokwane, where Greece and Argentina will meet at 9.30 p.m. Greek time (live on NET). Rehhagel recognized that Lionel Messi was Greece’s chief concern but also pointed to the fact that Argentina had the luxury of being able to rest Carlos Tevez and replace him with Diego Milito, the player who downed Bayern Munich in the Champions League final. «We’re not going to say how we’ll try to stop Messi, that would be giving away secrets… No one has successfully controlled him 100 percent,» Rehhagel said. «We must try to find the right way to hold our own,» he added. «We’ll have to judge from the bench how we are doing. We don’t want to have any regrets.» Asked whether it would possibly be playing a second-string Argentina side tonight, Rehhagel stressed that it did not matter, as there is so much quality running throughout the Albiceleste squad: «They say that in Argentina and Brazil great players grow on trees,» he stated. Greece’s fate depends on the outcome of the other group game as well, with hopes that Nigeria will beat South Korea so that Rehhagel’s men can advance with a draw in Polokwane. Argentina coach Diego Maradona confirmed that Messi will play, refuting reports that the 2009 FIFA World Player of the Year would sit this one out in order to rest. «Messi will play, because he always wants to play and I love that,» he told a news conference yesterday. «We were thinking of giving him a rest but to have a player of his class, the best in the world by a long way, it would have been a sin not to give him to the team, to the people, not give ourselves [the pleasure].»