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Vergos asks Greece to finish the job

Striker Nikolas Vergos was frustrated Greece failed to secure their semi-final place on matchday two, but is confident it will be second time lucky against France.

Greece's Nikolas Vergos in action against Austria
Greece's Nikolas Vergos in action against Austria ©Sportsfile

After two matches in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, hosts Greece remain undefeated, have not conceded a goal and are searching for the point that will take them into the semi-finals, and Nikolas Vergos is confident they can take that step.

"Making it to the semi-finals would mean that our aim has been achieved; everything beyond that will be a bonus," said Vergos, who wore the captain's armband for the goalless draw against Austria on matchday two. "That's what we've been working towards for so many days now and hopefully we will be included in Europe's top four at our age level. That would be no small feat for our country."

Had Greece won on matchday two they would have joined final opponents France in the last four ahead of the teams' meeting in Katerini, Vergos admitting: "Our aim was to defeat Austria and get through on matchday two. Heat was a factor though, as the match grew more physical with each passing minute.

"Contrary to the match against Ukraine, where we were clinical in our finishing and scored twice, we couldn't convert our chances against Austria. Considering how difficult the match was, it's not a bad result, as we kept another a clean sheet against a team desperate to win. We did our duty and got a positive result that gives us an advantage ahead of Sunday."

Highlights: Greece 0-0 Austria

Indeed, the Austria stalemate confirmed France in the semi-finals and means a draw in their final fixture would be enough for Greece to join them, but Vergos is expecting no presents. "France won't be easy, not by a long shot," said the Olympiacos striker. "Just because they've already qualified doesn't mean they'll be indifferent. On the contrary, being relaxed and under no pressure could prove an advantage for them.

"Youth tournaments are all about showing your skills. Regardless of the necessity for points, all teams are here to prove their potential. France will play at 100% to win and we will do the same, as we aim to qualify."

To make sure of that, Greece must avoid defeat against a France side who have won their first two Group A matches, are seeking to add to their triumphs of 2005 and 2010 and looking to add the U19 trophy to the U17 crown they claimed in Bulgaria two months ago. Small wonder Vergos says Greece will need to up their game.

Nikolas Vergos fires in a shot against Austria
Nikolas Vergos fires in a shot against Austria©Sportsfile

"We need to be very strong defensively. We've got our tactics at the back right so far, but we need to improve our focus and be concentrated throughout as France's strikers are very strong. We also have to get more of the ball in midfield and try to create more chances, keeping their defenders as busy as possible."

Greece's two games so far have drawn big crowds, and Vergos is counting on more of the same against France. "We hope the fans in Katerini will be there to help and support us, as they did in impressive fashion in Veria and Larissa.

"When we say their help is valuable, don't think it's just a cliché. In tough encounters such as the one against Austria, where the match could go either way, their lively support provided us with that extra gear to overcome heat and fatigue and show strength and passion. We'll need more of that on Sunday."

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