Fulham’s Kostas Mitroglou included in final Greece World Cup squad
Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou made Greece’s final 23-man World Cup squad on Monday despite a roller coaster season.
Mitroglou scored three of Greece’s four goals in their aggregate 4-2 win over Romania in a World Cup qualifying playoff in November.
He scored a series of hat-tricks for Olympiakos, including in the Champions League, at the start of season, then missed a month through injury, before signing for Fulham.
Mitroglou struggled with a knee injury and form at the London side who were relegated from the English Premier League.
“The only criterion in my selections was the players who I chose to make me feel safe both in the technical sector and in their physical state,” said Greece coach Fernando Santos.
“We noticed in the last matches that Mitroglou with Fulham played 30 minutes and I considered that he can help the team,” Santos said.
Santos also brought back Verona defender Vangelis Moras after three years out of the national squad that starts the World Cup in Group C against Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan.
“He has had a very good season with his team and seems to be in very good condition. He meets the requirements I have raised for this mission,” Santos said.
Cut from the 30-man provisional squad announced last week were Apollon goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas, Olympiakos defender Avraam Papadopoulos, Levande defender Nikos Karabelas, Kaiserslautern midfielder Kostas Fortounis, Atromitos forward Dimitris Papadopoulos, Panathinaikos forward Nikos Karelis and PAOK forward Stefanos Athanasiadis.
Santos also chose to leave out Olympiakos defender Dimitris Siovas who just recovered from a leg injury that kept him on the sidelines for four months.
“I waited three weeks to see him in action with Olympiakos, but he was not given the chance,” said the Portuguese coach.
“If I had seen him even in friendly matches then I would have invited him. I have a clear conscience that I did whatever possible to be able to see him in action as I did with Mitroglou,” Santos said.
“I feel perfectly safe with the 23 I selected, especially in midfield. I know I can count on substitute players if someone is injured or I need to replace someone,” Santos said.
“I’ve said it many times. The selections were made not for me but for the good of the national team. And in my mind these footballers are adequate to implement our plan,” he added.
“I opted for a team with balance in all areas with players who can play in other positions if needed.”
He said the Greek team would begin final training sessions together on Monday.
Greece has scheduled friendly matches against Portugal this month and Nigeria and Bolivia in early June to test the squad before heading for Brazil.
“We begin our preparation for the World Cup where we will be in a balanced group with three very strong teams. Here are the players that meet all the criteria to make a difference in the World Cup,” Santos said.
Goalkeepers: Orestis Karnezis (Granada), Panagiotis Glykos (PAOK), Stefanos Kapino (Panathinaikos)
Defenders: Vassilis Torosidis (Roma), Loukas Vyntra (Levante), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Borussia Dortmund), Costas Manolas (Olympiakos), Vangelis Moras (Verona), Jose Holebas (Olympiakos), Giorgos Tzavellas (PAOK), Yiannis Maniatis (Olympiakos)
Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Kayserispor), Costas Katsouranis (PAOK), Giorgos Karagounis (Fulham), Andreas Samaris (Olympiakos), Panagiotis Tachtsidis (Torino), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna), Yiannis Fetfatzidis (Genoa), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Bologna)
Forwards: Georgios Samaras (Celtic), Kostas Mitroglou (Fulham), Fanis Gekas (Konyaspor), Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK)
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Published: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM