Greece have made two appearances at the FIFA World Cup™ finals. The first was in 1994, when To Piratiko remained undefeated as they booked their ticket to the USA. Otto Rehhagel and Co required a tight play-off victory over Ukraine before sealing a berth at South Africa 2010, despite striker Theofanis Gekas finishing top scorer in the regular European qualifying competition with ten goals in 12 games.
FIFA World Cup finals history
The undoubted high point in Greek footballing history was their stunning triumph at UEFA EURO 2004 in Portugal, against which their record at the FIFA World Cup finals is distinctly modest. At USA 1994, they departed for home with no points and no goals following group stage defeats to Argentina (4-0), Bulgaria (4-0) and Nigeria (2-0). Some 16 years later, the trip to South Africa did produce a 2-1 win over Nigeria, but 2-0 defeats to Korea Republic and Argentina meant another group stage exit.
The current crop
The association and Rehhagel parted company after the disappointment at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, ending the German veteran’s nine-year tenure. His successor, Fernando Santos from Portugal, faces the challenging task of guiding a new Greek generation back towards the top of the world game. A first significant step on the road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil would be successful qualification for UEFA EURO 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
The key players
Captain and seasoned midfield general Giorgos Karagounis remains the dominant figure in the Greek line-up. Up front, Giorgos Samaras is being groomed to at least share the goalscoring burden with Gekas, who may need time to recover from a nightmare first half to 2011. At the age of just 20, talented attacking midfielder Giannis Fetfatzidis rates as the player to watch.
Coach: Fernando Santos
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup USA 1994, South Africa 2010 (Group stages)
Former stars: Theodoros Zagorakis, Antonios Nikopolidis, Angelos Basinas