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Santos aims to leave Greece on a high

Published: Tuesday 4 March 2014, 10.30CET
Fernando Santos sets out his ambitions for this summer's FIFA World Cup after last week announcing he will end his record-breaking Greece reign following the finals in Brazil.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Athens
Santos aims to leave Greece on a high
Fernando Santos celebrates with his players after securing qualification for Brazil ©Getty Images

Published: Tuesday 4 March 2014, 10.30CET

Santos aims to leave Greece on a high

Fernando Santos sets out his ambitions for this summer's FIFA World Cup after last week announcing he will end his record-breaking Greece reign following the finals in Brazil.

One week after Fernando Santos announced he would leave the Greece helm after the FIFA World Cup finals, the team resume their preparations for Brazil against South Korea at the Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis.

Santos was appointed in 2010 to succeed the man who transformed Greece's destiny and oversaw their UEFA EURO 2004 triumph, Otto Rehhagel. The Portuguese coach responded to the challenge by leading Greece to two consecutive major tournaments for the first time in their history. Indeed they negotiated UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying unbeaten and reached the quarter-finals, before earning a berth in Brazil where they will face Colombia, Japan and Ivory Coast in Group C.

With 24 victories and just four defeats in 41 matches, Santos boasts the highest winning percentage of any Greece coach. Rehhagel and Kostas Polychroniou both came out best in half of their 106 and 34 fixtures respectively. In Santos's era, Greece recorded their longest undefeated streak, 17 games. This sequence started on the day of his debut with Greece – a 1-0 friendly win in Serbia on 11 August 2010 – and ran until a 3-1 loss to Romania in November 2011.

Last year Greece kept six consecutive clean sheets in a run of victories between June and October, enhancing their reputation as hard to beat with a strong defence. Santos, in total, has fielded 60 players and given 25 of them first caps.

"I believe my decision to leave in the summer will not affect my players," he said. "They will give their all in the World Cup so that our parting will be the best possible. That's my intention as well. My only aim is to see Greece qualify for the World Cup knockout phase and I will do everything in my power to achieve that and make Greek fans happy.

"My contract with the Greek federation runs until 30 June. I believe and hope we will need to extend it for a few more days, as our team will have made it to the last 16."

Regarding his choices for the World Cup, Santos was adamant: "No player has been ruled out as yet and nobody should consider themselves sure of travelling to Brazil. We have two months to continue monitoring all players and their condition. When the time comes, I will make the picks that I deem fair. I am 200% focused on the upcoming World Cup."

Last updated: 08/05/14 1.33CET

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