By Spiros Sideris – Athens
Greece’s Portuguese coach Fernando Santos proclaimed his adopted country’s qualification for the World Cup as a victory “for the Greek people”.
Greece secured their ticket for Brazil with a 1-1 draw in its play-off second leg against Romania on Tuesday for a 4-2 aggregate win. The 2004 European champion will be appearing at its third World Cup after 1994 and 2010 and its fifth major tournament in the last decade.
“I know that this qualification is important to me, for the players, but also for the Greek people,” said Santos. “It is a message of hope and faith,” he added. “Belief in our abilities and hope that the wheel will turn and we will find ourselves overcoming the (economic) crisis.”
“We are pleased to bring such joy to millions of Greeks,” ventured PAOK forward Dimitris Salpingidis who scored in the 3-1 play-off first-leg win over Romania last week.
Borussia Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos said that united Greeks can achieve miracles. “When you work hard, things come into place,” he added.
Orestis Karnezis, who kept goal in both matches against Romania, said qualifying “is a dream come true for all of us. We are very happy and touched, just like our coach. We deserved to go to Brazil.”