No tears in Greece over holders’ exit from Euro 2008

June 15th, 2008 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Athens, June 15 (DPA) Greece remained composed Sunday as its national team achieved no miracle and was eliminated as holder after just two games at Euro 2008. “We will not throw ourselves into the sea as some may believe. Football never ends,” said one cafe owner who did not want to be named.

The Goalnews sportspaper summed up the mood by saying: “Elimination has come, but not a catastrophe - Don’t cry and don’t be sad.”

Greece started into the tournament in Austria and Switzerland with a 2-0 defeat against Sweden and Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Russia sealed the fate of Otto Rehhagel’s team which four years earlier created one of the biggest upsets in football history by winning the Euro title.

The 2004 matches created a national frenzy in Greece, while the atmosphere remained quiet from the outset this time around. As a result, there was also no despair on Sunday.

“There is hardly any depression. If someone doesn’t feel good he goes to the next tavern and drinks an ouzo, that’s it,” said teacher Kostas Dimou.

The German Rehhagel himself left it open whether he will continue as coach while goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis said Sunday that the final group match Spain will be his last.

Nikopolidis, 37, blundered on Sunday which allowed Russia to win the game which sent Greece packing.

He is one of the old guard which the Greek media now expects to give way for a new generation - and a bright future.

“The baton is passed on to the younger generation which grow up in the shadow of the big players from 2004,” said the Prassini paper. The sports paper Exedra struck a similar line, saying. “End of an era, the next generation comes.”

Televion reports and newspapers agreed that the qualifying session for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa offered the chance to form a new team as opponents such as Switzerland and Israel were no major threats.

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