Greece fail to qualify for consecutive major tournaments since 2002
The Greek national team failed to qualify for consecutive major tournaments for the first time since 2002 after playing to a goalless draw against Croatia in their second leg World Cup qualifying playoff (4-1 loss on aggregate).
The last time Greece failed to qualify for consecutive major tournaments was back in 2002 when the Ethniki missed out on EURO 2000 and the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Since then, Greece has managed to qualify for three consecutive European Championships in 2004, 2008, and 2012 and two World Cups in 2010 and 2014.
Before the tragic Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, where Greece finished last in the group (even behind the Faroe Islands), the only major tournament Greece missed out on was the 2006 FIFA World Cup (post 2004 era). Then, as European Champions, Greece finished fourth in their qualifying group behind Ukraine, Turkey, and Denmark.
However, Otto Rehhagel’s men bounced back in EURO 2008 qualifying to qualify for the final tournament in Austria/Hungary, earning the right to defend their 2004 title. They qualified by racking up the most points out of any other European nation with 31 out of 36 points, dropping points only in a 1-4 loss to Turkey (at home) and a 2-2 draw away to Norway.
Before 2004, Greece had only played in two major tournaments, EURO 1980 and the 1992 World Cup, where both campaigns ending poorly at the final tournament. The fans of Greece have been spoiled in recent years with many major tournament appearances (rightfully earned), but for the first time since 2002, the Galanolefki will miss out on two consecutive major tournaments.
The hope now is that Greece will continue to build on their 2018 World Cup qualifying performances and qualify for EURO 2020, which is the clear goal per the players and coaching staff after Sunday’s elimination to Croatia. Anything short of that will be an absolute failure and disappointment.