Claudio Ranieri spoke of the necessity to qualify for UEFA EURO 2016, saying it would be a "disaster" if Greece did not, and his desire to develop the country's best young players as he gave his first press conference as national team coach on Friday.
Greece embark on the road to France with a home game against Romania on 7 September and an encounter in Finland four days later. With the 2004 European champions having been present at five of the last six major tournaments, Ranieri, who was appointed a month ago, said he is aiming to build on the work done by Otto Rehhagel and Fernando Santos.
"My predecessors did a great job with Greece," explained the 62-year-old. "Now it's up to me. It won't be easy. Our aim is to qualify for the EURO 2016 finals in France. Not making it to the finals would be a disaster – it's that simple."
On Wednesday, Ranieri named two uncapped players – Olympiacos FC striker Dimitris Diamantakos and Levante UD full-back Nikos Karabelas – in a largely experienced first squad. Seventeen of the 23 were involved at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where Greece reached the knockout stage for the first time.
"A national team coach doesn't have the luxury of time, therefore he needs to rely on a main group of players," said the Italian, for whom this is a first post outside of club coaching. "You should also look at this list as an opportunity of getting to know the players."
Ranieri also talked of wanting to "offer my experience and knowledge to help the Greek team and leave a body of work behind me for the future". That extends to nurturing the country's brightest prospects. "My wish is to oversee the progress of young players, those who will play for the national team in the future," he said.
"I have requested from the federation to work with them two to three times per week. I will discuss my plan with the clubs, as it's positive for them as well. In the long run, I want to make the national team a mixture of older and younger players. I want to bring the best to the squad. My message is clear: the national coach is here, he has a vision and is willing to work."
— Ethniki Omada (@EthnikiOmada) July 25, 2014
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