Greece earn unlikely shot at UFWC title with win over Ivory Coast

June 27, 2014 12:15 am

If I could describe the Greek national football teams over the last decade in one word I would probably go with something along the lines of plucky. Modern football teams that are usually considered to be plucky are the likes of Everton, Ghana, Real Sociedad and more recently Crystal Palace and Costa Rica. Greece never seems to be amongst the names mentioned.

The usual assumption is that Greece are a very defensively minded side who offer little in the way of attacking threat and creativity. In more common words negative, boring, unwatchable, tedious, laboured and toothless.

853-greece-celebrating-world-cup-qualificationYet, somehow, they have made it to the last 16 with a decisive late penalty, converted by Georgios Samaras, against favourites Ivory Coast. Two years ago, at the European Championships in Poland-Ukraine, they edged through their group by winning their last game with another shock win against group favourites Russia. Who could have forgotten their memorable Euro 2004 triumph where they showed their characteristic resilience and an ability to hang on in games, and surprised much stronger oppositions in every game, in this case Portugal, where Angelos Charisteas headed in the only goal of the game.

Andreas Samaris opened the scoring after latching on to a through ball from the similarly named Samaras before Wilfried Bony found the back of the net with a crisp, accurate finish. The late penalty, conceded by Serey Die, saw Greece compete as one half of probably the most unlikely last 16 tie in World Cup history against current Unofficial Football World Champions Costa Rica.

Romania v Greece - FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier: Play-off Second LegThe Costa Ricans have performed nothing short of a miracle themselves in topping the group, let alone qualifying. In beating Uruguay, they also won the UFWC title from them, earning them their second UFWC victory in the process. They successfully defended against Italy in a very sub-par performance by the (official) 2006 World Champions, earning a third ranking point, before a dour draw with England, who would have left the tournament as UFWC title holders had they won, saw them retain the title going into the last 16.

While the low profile nature of the title means that probably no one in Costa Rica even knows what they currently hold, it does add a real sweetener to the match for those who are familiar with a competition that itself is 64 years older than the World Cup. What this also means is that the winner of the World Cup will also walk out as Unofficial Football World Champions and Greece and Costa will both be praying they can overcome each other to achieve something that they probably never have even dreamed.

You can read up on what the UFWC is all about and how it works here, at www.ufwc.co.uk. And yes, that is Scotland at the top of the table with England second. Don’t worry, it’s all a bit flukey anyway.

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