Greece are out of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005 with the sorry record of no points and no goals after two matches. The team coached by German legend Otto Rehhagel fell 1-0 against Japan on Sunday and prop up their group with no chance of making the semi-finals. Their third and final group match against Mexico in Frankfurt is now of academic interest.
The European champions have fallen well below their pre-tournament billing in their two matches so far. Following a clear-cut 3-0 defeat against Brazil, they were unable to raise their game against the Asian champions on Sunday, creating a worryingly low tally of scoring chances and suffering an apparent inability to get bodies forward.
Scoreless sequence a worry
The inexplicable lack of sharpness up front has ultimately dashed the hopes of thousands of Greek fans who still offered their side frenetic support against Brazil and Japan.
"We're desperately disappointed. We have to look at ourselves and work out what's going wrong at the moment," declared Stylianos Giannakopoulos. "We need to get these results out of our system and look to the future. We have to leave behind a good impression at the tournament."
Rehhagel's men have failed to score in their last four matches, including FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine and Turkey in early June. The last drought of similar severity dates back to 1994.
World Cup worries
The Greeks must expunge the sorry episode of the FIFA Confederations Cup as soon as possible, as they return to their Germany 2006 qualifying battle on 7 September. Even here, the European champions face an uphill battle as they currently lie third in Group 2, a point behind Turkey.
Rehhagel and company travel to Kazakhstan, currently bottom of the standings, followed by a crunch trip to Denmark and a home meeting with Georgia. Anything less than maximum points could spell the end of their hopes of appearing at the FIFA World Cup.
"We don't stand a chance if we keep playing like that," Angelos Charisteas raged. However, despite the run of poor results, the team is not ready to throw in the towel, as Giannakopoulos explained: "That's football. You have ups and downs. The job now is to haul ourselves back to the top."