A misty-eyed Fernando Santos spoke in Greek and Giorgos Karagounis let his emotions show after a 1-1 draw in Bucharest took the 2004 European champions to the FIFA World Cup finals, but Romania captain Vlad Chiricheş fears the chance of a lifetime may have passed.
Fernando Santos, Greece coach
My first reaction was to thank God, dedicate this qualification to the Greek people and call my mother, who was never in any doubt that we would go through. In 22 matches in the qualifying stages of UEFA EURO 2012 and the 2014 World Cup we suffered just one defeat and had three draws – these are the statistics of a great team, and I congratulate my players for their achievement. Our qualification was totally deserved.
In the first half we knew that the Romanians would look for an early goal, but we withstood their pressure and took the lead when given the opportunity. Our rivals went for broke after the interval and we conceded an unlucky equaliser, but we managed to hold on to the draw without too much difficulty.
Giorgos Karagounis, Greece midfielder
Yet another big moment for all of us – a deserved qualification. We have been waiting for this moment for two years and our effort has been worth it. I feel blessed and I thank God for everything I have experienced in football with this national side. I have been in the various Greece national squads since the age of 14. I have participated in three EUROs and this will be my second World Cup. Had we not gone through, this might have been my last international match. I really can't describe my emotions right now. We dedicate this qualification to the Greek people and to our families.
Victor Piţurcă, Romania coach
First of all, I would like to congratulate Greece because their qualification is well-deserved. We lost the play-off in Athens and conceded some stupid goals in both legs. Under those circumstances, it was difficult to turn the tie around. We started very well and had much more possession than Greece, but we did not create chances and conceded the goal.
It is a pity that we did not qualify. It was a very good experience, but we could not transcend our limitations. I am sorry for the fantastic fans who trusted us and deserved to enjoy qualification. I am deeply sorry and I am the only one to blame.
Vlad Chiricheş, Romania defender
The Greeks were stronger and better and we have to admit that they deserved to eliminate us. I don't want to say that we lost qualification in Athens or here – Greece were just better than us. Even though we were eliminated, we have to be proud that we are Romanians and proud of all those who were with us during the whole qualifying campaign, but we have to accept defeat.
I don't know if we will have a chance like this again – at least I don't think I will have a chance like this. We started well, we attacked, we controlled the match, and they could not get out of their half, but it's true that we couldn't get the ball in front of their goal. It's so sad that we missed such an opportunity.
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