Nikopolidis not losing hope of qualification
After losing to Austria in Thessaloniki, under 21 Greek national team head coach Antonis Nikopolidis was naturally disappointed with the result, however he’s not giving up hope of qualifying for the 2019 UEFA European Championship.
Hosting the Austrians at the Toumba Stadium, the Ethniki Elpidon were planning on building up a solid advantage ahead of the U21 European Championship qualification playoff second leg, but the team came up short. In tight, closely contested encounter, both teams struggled to create clear cut opportunities, with Dimitris Limnios missing the best chance when somehow failing to score at point blank range. The game was heading towards a draw, but with only six minutes remaining, Stefan Posch bundled in a corner to snatch a potentially crucial away goal.
Greek manager Antonis Nikopolidis noted his annoyance at the bitter defeat when speaking to the media: “In my opinion, this isn’t a fair result, the match was tough,” stated the 47-year old. “In the second half, we took control of the match, and there were chances to score. Unfortunately, we conceded from a set piece and our task has become a lot tougher. Nevertheless, we’re still hoping to qualify for the competition.”
Opposing boss Werner Gregoritsch is happy with the victory at the Toumba Stadium, however he’s not taking anything for granted ahead of the second match at home in Austria: “We have a lot of respect for Greece, they have lots of talent in their team and excellent players. Have we already qualified for the European Championship? No, we need to continue working hard in the second match in order to achieve our goal.”
Midfielder Lazaros Lamprou shared his feelings from the disappointing loss against Austria: “We lost this game, but with the exception of the opening 30 minutes, we pushed hard,” said the young Fortuna Sittard player. “We improved as the match continued, our plan was working, however the conceded goal has made life very difficult for us. Still, even with this result, we will travel to Austria to qualify. Everyone will give full commitment.”