Giannoulis sets unwanted record, Bakasetas and Skibbe praise effort
Greece dropped a 0:2 friendly defeat to Saudi Arabia in Seville, as a makeshift Ethniki Omada paid the price for a record-breaking sending off in the first half.
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An experimental Greek national team took on World-Cup bound Saudi Arabia in Spain, but Michael Skibbe’s men failed to make a real impression against their opponents, conceding two sloppy goals and hitting the woodwork twice through Anastasios Bakasetas and Efthymis Koulouris. Greece’s game plan unravelled when young defender Dimitris Giannoulis received a red card late in the first half, setting an unwanted record in the process.
22-year old Giannoulis, who spent the 2017/2018 Super League season on loan at Atromitos Athens from PAOK, was sent off in the 43rd minute after hacking down a Saudi attacker on the edge of the penalty area. Replays proved that Giannoulis actually played the ball, but the referee thought otherwise. Unfortunately for Giannoulis, he has become the first Greek player in history to be handed a red card on his national team debut. The previous record belonged to Michalis Kritikopoulos when he received a sending off on his second national team appearance against Australia (23/07/1969).
Nevertheless, despite the loss, forward Bakasetas was feeling positive ahead of further friendlies scheduled for June: “We were a new team tonight with plenty of new players,” stated Bakasetas. “The atmosphere within the team is good, the young guys tried their best but we only had a few training sessions. We have two more games in June and we’ll focus on them.”
Head coach Michael Skibbe also had his say, lamenting Giannoulis’ red card: “I feel quite disappointed, especially about the sending off which we received. Although we didn’t play really well, we gave a decent performance and had opportunities to score, including hitting the post twice. We were able to see how the players participating in the domestic league can play.”