Greece’s national team manager, Fernando Santos, praised his players’ efforts in the game against Japan during most of which Greece played with ten men. The Greeks drew 0-0 against Japan on Thursday, even though they lost captain Kostas Katsouranis seven minutes before half -time.
“When Katsouranis was sent off, the balance of the game changed fundamentally,” Santos told reporters. “Without the red card we probably could have won the game.
“I told my players at half-time that the way to fight back was to work well defensively and try to counterattack but you need to have the ball at the right moment to use the spaces and the wings,” he said. “I believe we did part of that well but had difficulties in other parts.”
Greece will reach the round of 16 if they defeat Ivory Coast and Japan fail to beat Colombia on Tuesday, and that is why Santos offered some advice to the Colombians: “Please don’t let Japan win. That is what I have to say, I can’t say anything else,” he said with a loud laugh.
“We have to win (against Ivory Coast), a draw is not enough,” said Santos. “There is no alternative but to win. We must face the game as we did against Russia (at Euro Cup 2012).” Greece had to win their last group game in that tournament to advance and they stunned group favorites Russia 1-0 to move into the last eight.
The draw leaves Greece and Japan with one point each in Group C, five adrift of leaders Colombia – who have secured a spot in the knockout stages – but only two behind second-place Ivory Coast.