When Greece face the group minnows
The Ethniki will conclude their journey in Group H of FIFA World Cup Qualifying in a considerably easy home match against Gibraltar. AGONAsport.com takes a look back at how Greece fairs with the “minnows” of their previous qualifying group campaigns.
Greece’s record against the semi-professional national teams has been fairly good recording wins in all of their previous fixtures, some easy some tough, with the exception of two shameful defeats against the Faroe Islands in Euro 2016 qualifying. AGONAsport.com takes a look back as Greece prepare to matchup against Gibraltar on Tuesday.
Regroup in Valletta, Fiesta at the OAKA (2008 Euro Qualifying)
During the 2008 Euro qualifiers, the Ethniki entered the qualifying campaign as the defending champions after their triumph during Euro 2004. However, little Malta were among the teams that troubled Greece. The Ethniki left Valletta with a narrow 0-1 win thanks to an Aggelos Basinas penalty kick midway through the second half. The win proved to be an important one in that campaign, mainly for the team's morale, as it came after a 1-4 thrashing at home to Turkey. It was a different story at the OAKA stadium as Greece threw a “fiesta” celebrating their qualification to Euro 2008 (defeated Turkey one round before to clinch qualification) with an emphatic 5-0 victory highlighted by a Fanis Gekas hat-trick.
A good start against Luxembourg (2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying)
Similar to this qualifying campaign, the Ethniki’s opening game in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers was an away fixture against the group outsiders, Luxembourg. The national team got off to a great start with 0-3 win thanks to goals from Torosidis, Gekas, and Charisteas. In the return match at the OAKA stadium, which was indifferent to the final standings (Greece had secured second place), Greece snatched a narrow 2-1 win with goals from Torosidis and Gekas.
Late Winner in Valletta, Not so easy at the Karaiskakis (Euro 2012 Qualifying)
Four years after Euro 2008 qualifying, Greece were paired to face Malta once again in Euro 2012 qualifying. Similar to 2008, the away fixture proved to be a tough one. Greece left it very late as a stoppage time goal from Vasilis Torosidis gifted Greece an undeserved three points. The return leg at the Karaiskakis stadium saw Fetfatzidis score two goals in a 3-1 victory that helped Greece win their group in the end and celebrate a place in the Euro 2012 Finals.
Liechtenstein prove to be tough opponents (2014 World Cup Qualifying)
Despite the fact that Liechtenstein finished bottom of the 2014 World Cup qualifying group with only two points, they proved to be tough opponents for our national team. Under Fernando Santos’ guidance, the Ethniki picked up two narrow wins from both matches against the German speaking microstate. A 72nd minute goal from Kostas Mitroglou gave Greece the slight 0-1 win on the road while the home fixture saw Greece claim a professional 2-0 victory with goals from Salpingidis and Karagounis.
Rock bottom with the Faroe Islands (Euro 2016 qualifying)
No Greek fan will forget the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign where Greece hit rock bottom, suffering TWO defeats to the semi-professional Faroe Islands national team. Without a doubt, it was one of the Ethniki’s most embarrassing moments in the team's history. Greece tasted a shock 0-1 defeat to the Faroe Islands at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium after celebrating a place in the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup just a few months before. There was no light at the end of the tunnel during Euro 2016 qualifying as Greece tasted a second defeat to the group “minnows”, 2-1 on the road, to finish LAST in their qualifying group.
And now...Gibraltar (2018 World Cup Qualifying)
Greece’s first step to put aside their Euro 2016 qualifying embarrassment began with an away test against the “new” Faroe Islands, Gibraltar. Greece got off to an ideal start with Mitroglou scoring early on before a quick equalizer from the hosts, left Greek fans worried for another shock result to the group’s “filler” team. However, Greece got the job done and three goals at the end of the first half saw the Galanolefki march on to a 1-4 victory. That was the start of a new Ethniki that can secure their place in the World Cup qualifying playoffs for a third consecutive time with a win against the “minnows” Gibraltar on Tuesday.