Goalless Greece not spooked by stats

Although Greece has never scored a goal at a World Cup, Dimitris

Salpigidis says his teammates are not worried by the country’s

dismal tournament record.

The 28-year-old striker said the team is determined to bounce

back from its 2-0 loss to South Korea on Saturday to open its 2010

campaign.

“We had a bad day, and we shouldn’t dwell on it … You can’t

keep recycling negative comments that just pulls you down even

more,” he said Monday.

The Korea result brought the country’s World Cup scoring record

to 0-12, counting the three straight defeats at its 1994 debut in

the United States.

“Sure there is a negative record but you can’t think about

that. Statistics are there to be overturned but they should not

affect the way you play.”

On Thursday, the Greeks take on Nigeria in Bloemfontein, before

facing Argentina on June 22 in their final Group B match.

Salpigidis, of Greek champion Panathinaikos, will be up against

Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, whose exceptional form limited

Argentina to a 1-0 win in their opening match.

Key Greece defender Vangelis Moras is set to be fit for the

Nigeria match, recovering from a groin injury.

Popular coach Otto Rehhagel faced rare criticism in Greece after

the loss to South Korea, mainly for tinkering with selection and

benching Liverpool defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos.

Reserve goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis said expectations at home

have remained high since Greece’s shock win at the European

Championships in 2004.

“We must be realistic. We are upset but we did not suffer a

catastrophe,” Sifakis said. He hinted that Greece would revert to

its trusted highly defensive tactics against the Africans, despite

both teams’ need to win.

“Teams must have a strong defensive capability in modern

football. All the players must work to shut down spaces – that’s

not only a job for individual players or the defense alone,” he

said.

“With the Nigerians, we will try and keep their players away

from our goal.”