Fernando Santos has taken a gamble on veteran striker Nikos Liberopoulos in his provisional 25-man Greece squad for UEFA EURO 2012.
The 36-year-old Liberopoulos only featured twice in qualifying but his fine form for AEK Athens FC earned him a place ahead of Stefanos Athanasiadis, a player 13 years his junior and fresh from an impressive campaign with PAOK FC.
The other main talking point was Santos's choice of goalkeepers – the coach opted for Michalis Sifakis, Kostas Chalkias and Alexandros Tzorvas but admitted it was not easy. "There were five or six players in with a good chance of making the cut. In the end, I chose the goalkeepers who have had more time with the national squad, who played more matches in qualifying," the Portuguese coach said.
Sifakis has missed a big part of Aris Thessaloniki FC's season because of injury, Tzorvas has been on the bench at US Città di Palermo and Chalkias played only half of PAOK's matches this term, yet they were all selected ahead of Panathinaikos FC's Orestis Karnezis. "He played with us once, in the last friendly, but I believe he is not yet ready, he lacks the experience for such a competition," Santos explained.
Santos, who will take his players to Austria on 22 May for a pre-tournament training camp, said the presence of only one natural right-back, Vassilis Torossidis, was not a problem owing to the versatility of Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Giannis Maniatis. Greece will play two friendlies in Austria – against Slovenia on 26 May and Armenia five days later – before departing for Poland, where they will face the hosts, Czech Republic and Russia in Group A.
Goalkeepers: Michalis Sifakis (Aris Thessaloniki FC), Kostas Chalkias (PAOK FC), Alexandros Tzorvas (US Città di Palermo).
Defenders: Vassilis Torossidis (Olympiacos FC), Kyriakos Papadopoulos (FC Schalke 04), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (SV Werder Bremen), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiacos FC), José Holebas (Olympiacos FC), Giorgos Tzavellas (AS Monaco FC), Stelios Malezas (PAOK FC).
Midfielders: Kostas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos FC), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos FC), Giannis Maniatis (Olympiacos FC), Giorgos Fotakis (PAOK FC), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens FC), Giannis Fetfatzidis (Olympiacos FC), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos FC), Alexandros Tziolis (AS Monaco FC), Kostas Fortounis (1. FC Kaiserslautern), Panagiotis Kone (Bologna FC).
Forwards: Dimitris Salpingidis (PAOK FC), Giorgos Samaras (Celtic FC), Fanis Gekas (Samsunspor), Nikos Liberopoulos (AEK Athens FC), Kostas Mitroglou (Atromitos FC).
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