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Greece coach Otto Rehhagel blames poor start for meltdown against Paraguay

The German tactician said he liked what he saw from his players but insisted his side’s sloppy start cost them dearly…
Greece lost its final preparation friendly ahead of the World Cup as the 2004 European Champions were downed 2-0 by Paraguay at the AFG Arena in St. Gallen, Switzerland on Wednesday night.
The Greeks were looking for a boost ahead of their departure for South Africa later in the week, but all hopes were spoiled early on as the Paraguayans piled on two early goals through Enrique Vera and Lucas Barrios.
Manager Otto Rehhagel, who appeared to still be experimenting with his line-up despite naming his final 23-man squad on Tuesday, told Greek sports network Novasports that his side’s poor start was the reason for Greece’s downfall.
“In the first fifteen minutes or so we were asleep, and we conceded two goals,” Rehhagel said as the Greek National Team enjoys two-days off before reconvening on the weekend.
“After twenty-five minutes, we finally woke up and we entered the game. But from there, it was already too late.”
Greece did show some vital signs near the end of the first half with youngster Sotiris Ninis the conductor of Greece’s many chances around the Paraguay goal. The prodigal midfielder even combined with Panathinaikos team-mate Dimitrios Salpingidis for what seemed to be Greece’s initial response to Paraguay’s goals, but the tally was eventually called off through a suspicion of offside.
“I will put into consideration the performances by the players today, and I will keep that in mind ahead of the game against South Korea,” continued Rehhagel.
“Now the players will return to Greece, and have a few days off before we leave for South Africa.”
“Our goal is to be in a good position to beat South Korea. We have to be ready and fight from the very first minute.”
Greece open their World Cup campaign against South Korea on June 12 in Port Elizabeth for the first game in Group B, a section that also includes Nigeria and Argentina.
The Greeks will be making just their second appearance in a World Cup Final tournament, and will be keen on giving a better performance than their USA ’94 run which ended winless and goalless after three group matches.

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