Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Karagounis in fitness race for Greece's Euro 2008 opener against Sweden

Karagounis in fitness race for Greece's Euro 2008 opener against Sweden

Greece midfielder Giorgos Karagounis is struggling to make his team's starting lineup for the European Championship match against Sweden on Tuesday because of a right knee injury.
The 31-year-old playmaker played an influential role in Greece's run to the title four years ago, as well as in qualifying for Euro 2008. But he only rejoined regular training Friday.
"It's not the best thing for a player to get injured two weeks before a big tournament," the Panathinaikos player said. "I have three days to prepare, and I hope I'll be in position to give the team 100 percent.
"It's up to the coach. I hope I'll be ready. I'm improving every day."
Four other players were briefly sidelined this week by minor injuries but were back to full practice by Thursday.
Karagounis' scoring ability from long range and his effectiveness at disrupting defensive opponents would be sorely missed against Sweden. A likely replacement would be Paraskevas Antzas, the versatile Olympiakos defender.
Rated as a hard worker, Karagounis started in every qualifier and helped Greece attain the best record with an impressive 10 wins from 12 games. He also hit high form for his club last month, helping Panathinaikos win a spot in the Champions League via the playoffs with four goals in two matches.
At Euro 2008, Greece plays Sweden in its Group D opener before facing Russia and Spain.
Karagounis said teammates were not looking beyond the Sweden game.
"Right now, there's no Russia or Spain or anything else. There's just the first game against Sweden," Karagounis said. "There's no secret. We are a determined team which concentrates hard on each individual game. That's how we succeeded. Good team spirit is our trump card."
He said Greece had gained consistency since 2004, despite a poor run of results in friendly matches heading into Euro 2008.
"Don't look at the friendly games. Sure, we're wee not playing at our best," Karagounis said. "But this is something totally different. In qualification, we didn't drop a single point in the smaller games. No one else did that."


Updated : 2021-05-06 23:00 GMT+08:00