What are the expectations for the team?
With the country facing impending financial meltdown, securing the funds for the team’s trip to South Africa will be considered a feat in itself.
Is the coach popular?
He may never reclaim the God-like status he enjoyed in the summer of 2004 but, nine years after taking over, Otto Rehhagel remains untouchable. The chairman of the Greek FA recently called him a national asset, which sums up the prevailing mood.
Are there any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
Angelos Charisteas is considered handy with the bouzouki and has penned the odd tune or two. Otherwise, in a team full of fast car enthusiasts, keeper Alexandros Tzorvas stands out by boldly listing reading as his favourite pastime.
Who are the best and worst interviewees?
Kostas Katsouranis is reasonably articulate and, more importantly, not afraid to defy sports press cliches. By contrast, Georgios Karagounis is so deliciously stereotypical he’s a joy to listen to. Still, as far as ill-judged interviews go, nobody beats full-back Giorgios Seitaridis. Last July he bragged in a lads’ magazine about his involvement in a high-speed chase along the Athens-Salonica motorway. Consequently he got sued by the League for Pedestrians’ Rights and still hasn’t extricated himself from that mess.
Is the team likely to have any unusual goal celebrations?
King Otto looks down on unusual goal celebrations. Actually King Otto looks down on scoring altogether. A pity too, since Costas Mitroglou has been known to perform a bizarre impersonation of the Australian ex-con and film star Chopper Read that is actually quite funny, involving pretending to fire guns and grinning like a madman.
Are there any personal rivalries in the squad?
Team spirit has remained particularly strong throughout Rehhagel’s tenure and is expected to remain so in South Africa, irrespective of the outcome of the campaign.
Are any players involved in politics?
Professional football in Greece is discredited enough as it is for players to be involved in an even less respectable racket. Just as well too, since the only top-class footballer to have entered Greek parliament, former Olympiakos defender Georgios Anatolakis, did so on the ticket of the xenophobic far-right LAOS party.
What will the media coverage be like?
Greek state TV will be covering all the matches in the tournament. Most ex-players working on TV are frustrated coaches and unabashed sycophants of the big clubs. TV executives seem to love them, everybody else hates them with a vengeance.
Will there be many fans travelling to South Africa?
Highly unlikely considering the panic gripping Greece over the country’s slide into bankruptcy. With the IMF knocking on the door it takes a very rich (or a very brave) person to book a holiday in South Africa this summer. Paul Pomonis