Greek squad flies to New York

Na­tional team to play Ecuador af­ter Malta vic­tory that kept it on top

Kathimerini English - - Focus -

Greece’s na­tional soc­cer team flew yes­ter­day to the United States where it will face Ecuador in the early hours of Wed­nes­day, Greek time, af­ter down­ing Malta 3-1 on Satur­day for the Euro 2012 qual­i­fiers.

Al­though the match against Ecuador is a friendly, it has spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for Greece as vic­tory will en­sure it will be among Europe’s top-10 teams in the FIFA rank­ings and get seeded for the World Cup qual­i­fy­ing group draw next month.

The play­ers of coach Fer­nando Santos will be fac­ing the South Amer­i­cans at the Citi Field in New York, with Greek-Amer­i­can cen­tral de­fender Ge­orge John join­ing the na­tional team for their train­ing ses­sions.

The Greeks will be boosted by their good per­for­mance against lowly Malta in Pi­raeus that saw them stay on top of their group with four matches left to play.

Greece took the lead af­ter in the eighth minute through a swift team move from the right with Gior­gos Karagou­nis, Sotiris Ninis and a pin­point cross by Vas­silis Toro­sidis into the path of Fet­fatzidis, who scored with ease from the penalty spot.

The sec­ond goal came in the 26th minute as a Gior­gos Karagou­nis free kick found debu­tant Pa­padopou­los in the box, and he slot­ted it home to cel­e­brate with tears in his eyes.

Each side had a goal cor­rectly dis­al­lowed as off­side in the first half, by Dim­itris Salpigidis for Greece and Michael Mif­sud for Malta.

It was Mif­sud, though, who pulled one back for the Mal­tese nine min­utes into the sec­ond half as the Greek de­fense was caught in pos­ses­sion.

Malta came close to scor­ing an equal­izer at the stroke of the hour as An­dre Schem­bri’s shot hit the wood­work.

Greece re­stored its two-goal ad­van­tage in the 63rd minute as a great cross from the right by Salpigidis was spilled by Malta goal­keeper Andrew Hogg into the path of Fet­fatzidis, who made no mis­take from close range.

Greece has 14 points, Croa­tia and Is­rael 13, Ge­or­gia is on nine, Latvia has four while Malta is still with­out a point.

Con­se­quently Greece’s next match, in Is­rael on Septem­ber 2, is cru­cial for its fu­ture in the group.

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