Thursday, June 23, 2005

Defiant Stylianos

Stylianos Giannakopoulos told das Purist he disagrees that the Greek side let themselves down in Germany.
Going home with the worst record of any European Confed entrant since records began (1997... let´s face it, it´s not all that long) comes at the end of a season that began with such glory in Lisbon.
That night one year ago saw Greece earn the right to contest the tournament now in progress and, with no goals and one solitary point gained, many felt this puts Otto Rehhagel´s men back at square one.
However, the Bolton maestro insisted: "It was a very long season and we had our injury problems but nothing has changed fundamentally.
"We could easily have won against Mexico... but it was a good match to watch despite the lack of goals.
"From my point of view the only disappointment in our whole German experience was the game against Japan (0-1) because in Brazil we played the best team in the world.
"We go home on a good performance, when the result was not so bad. We should have taken our chances, that's all, especially in the first half. The most important thing was that every one of us gave 100 per cent before our well-deserved holiday!"
His face increasingly told a different story during the game, so was his angry expression because he knew the Man of the Match award was destined for Mexican keeper Oswaldo Sanchez... or even due to the performance of referee Carlos Amarilla instead?
"No, that's the passion of the game," laughed Giannakopoulos in reply. "You get exasperated with the ref sometimes but when you see things differently it is normal. I thought the ball crossed the line in one incident but his performance was not a factor."
The former Olympiakos playmaker had been in the thick of the action throughout until drifting wide left in an attempt to stretch the defence of group B's table-toppers. Still, neither side deserved to win a game that only sparked into sustained action in the closing ten minutes.
The one thing Giannakopoulos refused to be drawn on was the controversy over Mexico's missing defenders. He took his leave of the interview area at the magnificent Frankfurt Waldstadion as rumours flew over the semantics of a doping and a disciplinary defence. "See you, I'm only thinking of the beach now," was his admirably diplomatic closing remark.

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