Greece will not take the challenge of Costa Rica lightly when they meet in the second round of the World Cup finals in Recife on Sunday, said coach Fernando Santos after he guided the Greeks to their first ever appearance in the knockout stages.
The 59-year-old Portuguese, who has been at the helm since 2010, said Costa Rica topping what he termed the ‘group of death’ — which saw them beat both Uruguay and Italy and draw with toothless England — meant they were a force to be reckoned with.
Greece’s progress by contrast was not nearly as smooth or impressive with just a penalty in time added on of the second-half seeing them beat Ivory Coast 2-1 and qualify at the Africans’ expense.
However, that could not dilute the joy of Santos and his gritty group of players who yet again had defied the critics in going further than they had been expected to.
“I am delighted first of all that we bring joy to the Greek people,” said Santos.
“We have time to think about the match with Costa Rica. We will go back to our base, think about it and study our opponents.
“We have to pay a lot of attention to this game, they came out top in the ‘Group of Death’. As a result we cannot allow ourself to underestimate them.”
The match comes the day before Santos’ contract runs out and the trained electrical engineer has no intention of having it renewed come what may, although as he joked before the tournament they may have to extend it by a few days as the quarterfinals fall after it.
Santos, who had extensive experience as a club coach in Greece before replacing the Euro 2004 winning handler Otto Rehhagel in 2010, is not so amused by the continuing belief that Greece only know how to defend and hit people with the odd goal.
“I can but laugh as it is a joke. In football one attacks and one defends. We know how to defend well and we are very good on the counterattack.”