Hopes On The Line in Athens
By Graham Wood, courtesy of www.uefa.org:
Greece defender Giourkas Seitaridis believes Saturday's qualifier against Turkey in Athens will have a significant bearing on whether the holders will be defending their UEFA European Championship crown in Austria and Switzerland next year.
The Aegean rivals have both begun their Group C campaigns with unblemished records, and will be looking to make it four wins from four when they contest section supremacy at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium. "It will be an extremely difficult game as we're both good teams," said Club Atlético de Madrid right-back Seitaridis. "I hope we can succeed in winning - if we do then I feel 99 per cent sure that we'll qualify for the finals."
History ensures a lively atmosphere whenever these two countries meet, but the fixture schedule has also thrown up an intriguing coincidence with the match falling on the weekend of a Greek public holiday celebrating the country's independence from the Ottoman Empire. Seitaridis insists the nature of the holiday will provide no added motivation for the team: "The game has no relation to our feast day on 25 March."
The 25-year-old continued: "Our motivation is always big on any day we play, and of course at the moment we're attempting to move up to first place in the group." Greece, who famously defied the odds to win UEFA EURO 2004™ before missing out on last year's FIFA World Cup, are hoping Angelos Charisteas will shake off a leg injury to start. The Feyenoord forward scored the only goal of that final in Portugal three summers ago.