Euro 2004 winners look to World Cup to lift morale

Two veterans of Greece’s 2004 European title winning team said Sunday they were determined to use the World Cup to help lift morale in their debt-ridden country.

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“People see me in the streets and tell me they are waiting for something good at the World Cup,” Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis told state-run NET television from the team’s training camp in Switzerland.

“The way things are in our country today (the financial crisis) we must have a good showing to bring them some joy.”

Echoing his remarks, Panathinaikos teammate Kostas Katsouranis added: “We have the capabilities to bring joy to Greeks in the World Cup.”

Both players agreed that making it to the next round in the World Cup would be a huge success for Greece who play in Group B against Argentina, South Korea and Nigeria.

And they credited German coach Otto Rehhagel will their surprise 2004 success. “He was the architect of the biggest surprise in the history of football and perhaps sports in general,” Karagounis said.

Katsouranis said Rehhagel understood the Greek mentality and that the only “negative feature, which also could be an advantage, is that he is stubborn. He does not easily change his mind.”

Rehhagel and his 25 players departed for their Swiss training camp on Friday in preparation for their 2010 World Cup campaign.

Greece will train at Bad Ragaz in Switzerland until June 3 and will play friendly matches against North Korea on May 25 in Altach, Austria and Paraguay on June 2 in Winterthur, Switzerland.