Greece coach Fernando Santos believes organisation will be the key if his team are to kick-start their UEFA EURO 2012 campaign with a positive result in Croatia on Tuesday.
Santos, who succeeded Otto Rehhagel after the 2010 FIFA World Cup, endured a frustrating competitive debut in the dugout on Friday as his team started their bid to qualify from Group F with a 1-1 draw against Georgia in Athens.
That result places added pressure on Greece ahead of their trip to face Slaven Bilić's team, who lead the section after a straightforward 3-0 defeat of Latvia, in Zagreb, The 55-year-old Portuguese insists how well his players defend will play a huge role in the outcome of the match. "We didn't expect that result [against Georgia]," he said. "What seemed to work in training did not materialise on the pitch. We conceded an early goal and that made us nervous and anxious and it was difficult for us to control the game.
"The game against Croatia is one in which we will have to defend a lot more than we did against Georgia. The difficulty for us lies in how our forward line is set up because opponents easily seem to be able to launch counterattacks. We must learn to organise ourselves better and cover the various zones and spaces properly. With Croatia we will adapt better but we must play a much shorter passing game."
Having fallen behind in the third minute to Aleksandr Iashvili's goal on the break, Greece struggled to threaten until late in the second half when Nikos Spiropoulos salvaged a point with a 72nd-minute volley. Santos maintains there is no need for his team to panic, though. "The players need to keep calm; we have the quality," he explained. "We are not happy but there is no need to exaggerate the situation. We must correct the negatives and keep the positive aspects of this game and I am convinced that we can change the situation."
Greece improved after half-time, when the introductions of young Panathinaikos FC midfielder Sotiris Ninis and Olympiacos FC striker Kostas Mitroglou added verve to the attack, with the latter almost scoring an added-time winner. "In the second half we showed desire and determination," added Santos. "We were first to every ball and were pushing them. That is what I wanted to get across to my players and we will need this attitude against Croatia."
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