So high are the stakes at the finals of a FIFA World Cup™ that blame is never far away, be it for a forward’s missed chance, a defender’s unnecessary foul or a goalkeeping blunder. The latter have been particularly to the fore here at South Africa 2010, where the likes of England’s Robert Green and Algeria’s Faouzi Chaouchi have already felt the backlash from costly handling errors.
Quick to stand up for his fellow members of the goalkeepers’ union was Greece custodian Alexandros Tzorvas, also under fire in some quarters for indecisiveness at the corner which led to Korea Republic’s first goal in Saturday’s opening 2-0 defeat in Group B. “All players make mistakes in football, but when a goalkeeper slips up it usually costs the team a goal,” said the Panathinaikos shotstopper.
“Football is a sport that produces good and bad moments. Sadly, in Greece’s case, too much focus is put on the bad, while the good is ignored or forgotten about,” continued Tzorvas, who firmly believes the 2004 European champions’ squad, at only their second FIFA World Cup finals, will remain united whatever happens in the next game against Nigeria in Mangaung/Bloemfontein on 17 June.
“We all make mistakes, we can all suffer from momentary lapses and the most important thing is to be able to regroup and overcome them. If I mess up in the next game the lads won’t single me out. Journalists and supporters can say what they like but the team must stick together.”
Having competed with the now retired Antonis Nikopolidis, Kostas Chalkias and Michalis Sifakis, Tzorvas secured the No1 jersey of To Piratiko just in time for South Africa 2010. Having kept two clean sheets in Greece’s all-important qualifying European Zone play-off tie with Ukraine, coach Otto Rehhagel has stuck with the 28-year-old keeper at Chalkias’ expense.
“It’s like this, many people will now understand how frustrating it was for me not only to be a back-up keeper but to have to wait so long for international recognition,” continued Tzorvas. “It’s meant a lot to me to feel like an integral part of the team, and I’m excited that the coach chose me to start the first match.”
Buoyed by an impressive season with Pana on the domestic front, with the Greek heavyweights claiming a league and cup double, Tzorvas revealed a useful piece of advice from club boss Nikios Nioplias prior to this South African adventure. “He told us to go and enjoy ourselves and to give everything for the team,” said the player as the interview drew to a close.
“It’s a unique experience and the high point of any player’s career. It’s unforgettable, to see all the fans of different countries celebrating together, with no trouble. This is the message that football should be sending out.”