SPORTS

‘Prove you love your country,’ Greece’s coach tells his players

MANCHESTER – As of yesterday, the national soccer team finds itself at the mecca of English soccer in the country’s north, Manchester’s Old Trafford stadium, where Greece will play its final World Cup qualifier tomorrow. For Greece, already eliminated from the competition’s finals next year, to be co-hosted by South Korea and Japan, there is little to fight for other than improved morale following last month’s 5-1 thrashing by Finland. Almost certain to qualify, the hosts, however, will be hoping to celebrate their team’s advancement in traditional fashion at pubs all over the country. A victory for England would give the side Group 9’s top spot and its ticket to next year’s World Cup finals. A draw, or loss, would leave England in second place, behind Germany, and force it to seek its berth through playoffs. Considering Greece’s 5-1 annihilation in Helsinki, English fans should not have much to worry about. Or, as the national team’s center back, Nikos Dabizas, who plays with English club Newcastle United, stated on the team’s flight to Manchester, tomorrow’s early 3 p.m. kickoff time has been planned to offer fans maximum celebration time. Reflecting this overall confidence, English bookmakers are offering a million to 6,000-drachma bets on Greece’s star striker, Ajax Amsterdam’s Nikos Machlas, scoring the clash’s opening goal. That’s a good reason for Greek players to wake up and stare their opponent in the eye and deprive England of going into the game purely for entertainment purposes. When he talked to his players, Greece’s newly appointed coach, German Otto Rehhagel, asked them to play for their country and themselves. All of Europe will be watching, he said, adding that if the players love their country, now was the time to prove it. Prior to the squad’s departure from Athens, Rehhagel reiterated his determination to offer satisfaction to both Greek and German fans. Ironically, the German coach is in the unique position of being able to help the fate of his country’s national side with Greece’s efforts. Should Greece manage to contain England to a draw, Germany will qualify automatically, while England will enter playoffs for its berth. Responding to remarks by English journalists at Manchester Airport who said that Greece’s national side did not command respect, Rehhagel said that all games start with the score at 0-0. Over the past two years, livestock breeders have also become interested in organic methods. In 1999, 1,292 hectares of grazing land was being managed organically by 2,611 breeders. A year later, another 400 breeders were using organic methods over a total of 3,000 hectares. Apart from sheep, goats, beef and dairy products, poultry and pigs are also being raised organically.