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World Soccer: People are saying that success at the Euros would be a great boost for Greece after the economic crisis? Is a repeat of 2004 really possible?

Fernando Santos: What I want the Greek people to know is that we will bleed to succeed. We will give 100 per cent for Greece. The fans should have faith in us. In all our matches we always strive hard and we always want to honour Greece and to bring some joy to a people who have not had much joy in recent times.

What is your assessment of the group that Greece finds itself in, along with Russia, Czech Republic and Poland?

The group that we have been drawn in is passable as all of the teams have a 25 per cent chance of advancing. I don’t believe in lucky or unlucky draws. Everything will be decided on the pitch. What I wish for above all is that all my players are in good physical condition after the end of the domestic championship. I have total trust in them and I know they will be ready for the group stage.

What will be your criteria when you select your final squad?

When we go to Austria for training in May I will take with me players who have a good tactical knowledge and technique; this must be the basic criteria. Then we will work on fitness and team spirit. I want players who can build a strong team, both on and off the pitch. If you can create a compact group, that is a hugely important step.

Does that mean you will favour more experienced players at the expense of younger ones?

It’s important that a player has experience so that he does not get overwhelmed by anxiety in a tournament situation. Therefore we need strong personalities, whether they are young or old. I am also interested in players who can play in a number of positions.

How would you describe your team’s style of play?

We stick 100 per cent to the basic principles – which are to have passion, organisation, a clear mind and a determination to win at all times.

Have you made a deliberate attempt to differentiate your team from that of your predecessor?

We have our own identity and will not change for anyone. I will not follow the tactics of Rehhagel. I want them to say that Santos’ national team is a compact group with a clear identity in the game. We want to dominate the game.

Interview by Lou Economopoulos


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