The Greeks have only taken part on one other World Cup, and curiously, in South Africa, find themselves in a group with Argentina and Nigeria, opponents at their first World Cup in 1994. South Korea are their other opponents.

Greece finished as runners-up in their qualification group and had to struggle past Ukraine in a playoff to reach South Africa. After winning Euro 2004 against all odds, Otto Rehhagel’s team have faced many problems since: They missed qualifiying for the 2006 World Cup and did very badly at Euro 2008, losing all their matches in the group stage. If this wasn’t bad enough, the Greeks also arrive with their homeland in the grip of political and economic turmoil.

The Coach

Otto Rehhagel (GER)
71 years old

German coach Otto Rehhagel is an institution in Greece. He conquered Euro 2004 as a rank outsider, but after refusing to go back home to take over the Nationalmannschaft, Rehhagel has had a less than smooth ride at the helm. In the past the 71-year-old has had a long and impressive career, managing Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich and Kaiserslautern amongst others before pitching up in Greece in 2001.

Players to watch

Giorgios Karagounis
33 years old
Panathinaikos (GRE)

One of the last symbols of the Euro 2004 winning team, team captain Karagounis plays a vital role. In 2004 the midfielder was booked in the semi-final and missed the final, now he’s looking for revenge. After playing outside Greece with Inter and Benfica, he headed back to Panathinaikos in 2007, where he lifted the Super League this season. At 33 years old, this should be Karagounis’s last international tournament.



Theofanis Gekas
30 years old
Hertha Berlin (GER)

In December 2009, Gekas moved from Bayern Leverkusen to Hertha Berlin on loan. Despite 17 appearances and six goals with the blue and whites, the striker couldn’t help Hertha avoid the drop to 2. Bundesliga. Gekas is looking to turn in good performances in South Africa to seal a move to a team in the top flight.

Vangelis Moras
29 years old
Centre Back
Bologna (ITA)

Moras left AEK Athens for Bologna to play Serie B football. Soon promoted with his new team in 2008 and, despite some serious injuries, the defender is still at the Italian side. In 2009/10 Moras played 20 times in Serie A, earning a call to South Africa from Rehhagel.

Georgios Samaras
25 years old
Celtic (SCO)

The 2010 World Cup will be a watershed for Samaras. Put simply, it’s time to show if he should be classed as a very good or simply an average player. Having shown so much promise at Heerenveen, but not living up to that at Manchester City, then just showing glimpses at Celtic, Samaras still has work to do. Last season the striker scored 13 goals, but didn’t set the Scottish Premier League on fire.

The view from Greece

Greece need the spirit of 2004 to make any kind of impact in South Africa and things look so different in 2010. The local press are not confident about the team’s prospects and expectations are generally quite low. Then again, with little expected, perhaps Rehhagel’s men can surprise.


Greece have a number of tricky opponents in their group and their first match against South Korea could be decisive in deciding whether they will progress. Looked at objectively, it is hard to see Rehhagel’s side qualifying for the knockout phase and last spot in the group is a serious prospect.

Did you know?

Greece have never scored at the World Cup finals. They have made just one appearance, but in 1994 lost 4-0 to Argentina and Bulgaria, and then 2-0 to Nigeria. Greece were undoubtedly one of the worst teams in the United States.

Group games

12/06/10: Greece  0 – 2  South Korea    –  Nelson Mandela Bay
17/06/10: Greece  2 – 1  Nigeria    –  Bloemfontein
22/06/10: Greece  0 – 2  Argentina    –  Polokwane