When it comes to Greece’s U-20 side, the spotlight is usually firmly focused on their two star acts, Ioannis Gianniotas and Dimitrios Diamantakos. Grabbing the headlines after Saturday’s meeting with Mexico, however, was team-mate Dimitrios Kolovos, who snatched the late goal that gave his side the perfect start in Group D of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Turkey 2013.
“I was just doing my job, which is to score goals,” said the modest matchwinner after stealing the show at the Kamil Okal Stadium in Gaziantep, in what was the Greeks’ FIFA U-20 World Cup debut.
Having taken the lead against a side regarded by many as one of the favourites for the title, the UEFA U-19 European Championship runners-up found themselves pegged back and under pressure as the game entered the closing stages with the score level at 1-1 and the Mexicans pushing for victory.
Yet with two minutes remaining, Kolovos settled the game, latching on to a knock-back just inside the box, shifting the ball on to his left foot while shrugging off the attentions of Mexico captain Antonio Briseno, and letting fly with the crispest of strikes into the top-right hand corner of the Mexico goal.
It capped a perfect day for Greece, especially as group rivals Paraguay and Mali played out a 1-1 draw later in the evening, just as a smiling Kolovos had hoped for when talking to FIFA.com after his stunning late show: “A draw would be the best thing for us.”
I was just doing my job, which is to score goals.
That draw leaves the Greeks as the early frontrunners in the section, though the tall striker is reluctant to get carried away by his side’s promising start: “We shouldn’t be regarded as favourites just because we’ve won a game, and we’ll have to wait and see what happens in the other two matches. It’s been a great start but we have to go step by step.”
On the subject of Greece’s main objective at Turkey 2013, Kolovos said: “It hasn’t changed. We’re still aiming to get past the first round. This first win in our very first game in the competition will give us a lot of mental strength ahead of our next match.”
That next game comes on Tuesday against Mali, who showcased their physical prowess against the Paraguayans. Expecting a stiff test, the Greek hero of the hour said: “They’re a very strong team and very quick with it too. Nevertheless we’ll be going all out for a win.
While the Africans will pose a stern test for Kostas Tsanas’ charges, they should be taking nothing for granted either, not with Gianniotas, Diamantakos and now Kolovos posing a genuine threat up front. As he showed against the Mexicans, Greece’s new strike sensation has an eye for goal and a fearsome shot to match.