ATHENS, Greece—Not many Greeks dared to hope for Wednesday’s 1–0 victory on the road over Ukraine in Donetsk to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa next summer.
Happiness and surprise overwhelmed every Greek that was supporting the team by going to Ukraine or by watching the game on TV, as qualification for the World Cup seemed like a forgotten story for Greek soccer after a 16-year absence.
This Greek national soccer team seems to have the same positive air of “trying to face any challenge with all I have got” as their pioneers did when they won the European championship in 2004—their first major soccer trophy.
That approach had a good effect in Ukraine as Dimitrios Salpigidis scored the only goal of the game. He latched on to a long through-ball from Georgios Samaras before rolling a shot into the far side of the net just after a half hour of play.
“The Greek were very dynamic and they put their hearts and souls into the game,” said coach Otto Rehhagel, who as we saw from 2004, can make miracles.
After the game, Greek forward Angelos Charisteas said to Greek Mega TV that they were not expecting to be beaten by Ukraine because of the quality in their own squad.
Greek soccer fans are all outside celebrating the victory with fireworks and the nation’s flag shouting slogans like “There, there, in South Africa.” They are now waiting to see what is going to happen in South Africa in the 2010 World Cup.