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Published: Sunday 1 January 2012, 18.08CET
Greece have reached the final tournament for the fourth time in the past six seasons, Kostas Tsanas' side winning all bar one of their six qualifying fixtures and remaining unbeaten.
Greece had plenty to celebrate in qualifying ©Avetis Ghazanchyan
Published: Sunday 1 January 2012, 18.08CET


Greece have reached the final tournament for the fourth time in the past six seasons, Kostas Tsanas' side winning all bar one of their six qualifying fixtures and remaining unbeaten.

Greece have not looked back since starting their qualifying campaign with a 10-0 win against Andorra, kick-starting an unbeaten run that took Kostas Tsanas' side into the finals.

Greece showed fine consistency with wins against Armenia and a draw against Slovakia confirming first place in Group 10 – their 13 goals coming from seven different players. The pattern continued into the elite round, Greece winning all three Group 5 fixtures without conceding a goal and coming through a final-day decider against Denmark with the victory they needed.

For the first time Greece's team features several players who have played plenty of top-flight football for their clubs, including PAOK FC left-back Kostas Stafylidis and Charis Mavrias, a pacy right winger at Panathinaikos FC. Aris Thessaloniki FC pair Giorgos Katidis – Greece's captain and an attacking midfielder – and Giannis Gianniotas, who scored three goals in 19 Super League games, are also key figures.

"It helped a lot counting on players who have featured in the top flight, that kind of experience is invaluable at this age and stage," said Tsanas. "The players are ambitious and really love this team. Their camaraderie, passion and will to excel are uncanny. There's always room for improvement and we'll work on our weak points as we intend to go as far as possible. However, what's more important is for the lads to enjoy the tournament. It's a beautiful journey."

Qualifying round: Andorra 10-0, Armenia 2-1, Slovakia 1-1 (Group 10 winners)

Elite round: Turkey 3-0, Cyprus 3-0, Denmark 2-0 (Group 5 winners)

Key players: Stefanos Kapino (goalkeeper, Panathinaikos FC), Dimitris Diamantakos (forward, Olympiacos FC), Kostas Stafylidis (defender, PAOK FC), Charis Mavrias (midfielder, Panathinaikos FC), Giorgos Katidis (Aris Thessaloniki FC)

Coach: Kostas Tsanas
Date of birth: 22 August 1967
Nationality: Greek
Playing career: Levadiakos FC, Kalamata FC, Athinaikos FC, Ethnikos Asteras FC
Coaching career: Athinaikos FC, Ilysiakos FC, Greece U-19 (assistant), Greece U21 (assistant), Greece U19

As a striker Tsanas spent the bulk of his playing career at Levadiakos, hanging up his boots in 2000. He promptly moved into coaching, starting in the youth sections of Athinaikos the following year before taking charge of the senior squad in 2005, moving on to Ilysiakos a year later.

Tsanas spent 2008/09 working as a scout for AEK Athens FC before joining the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) as a coach. He was appointed assistant to Giorgos Georgiadis in the Under-19 team; a year later, the duo took over the U21 squad. In October 2011 Tsanas succeeded Leonidas Vokolos as U19 head coach after Vokolos had become Fernando Santos' assistant in the senior squad.

Team facts

Qualifying top scorer
Dimitris Diamantakos: 5

UEFA European Under-19 Championship best
Runners-up: 2007

Honours in UEFA youth competitions
UEFA European Under-16 Championship
Runners-up: 1985

Last updated: 09/06/12 12.35CET

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