Greece were the lowest ranked team (4th) in qualification Group 1 for the 1990 World Cup, but still enjoyed a quite decent campaign for the latest Euros, where they had finished ahead of Hungary and Poland, only second to Netherlands. No need to dismiss the Greeks before the qualifiers. Miltos Papapostolou had now been manager for the national team since 7 March 1984, and was about to guide the Greeks in his third consecutive qualification campaign. In his fifth year at the helm, he had already surpassed Alketas Panagoulias as the longest serving manager for the national team (a record now belonging to Otto Rehhagel).
World Cup appearances: None
Manager: Miltos Papapostolou
Friendly: East Germany 1-0 Greece
Line-up: Talikriadis – Georgamlis, Mavridis, Tsaloukhidis, Kolomitrousis – Kanaras, Bonovas, Mitropoulos (Karapialis 81), Kofidis – Saravakos, Anastopoulos (c) (Dimitriadis 83)
Friendly: Turkey 3-1 Greece
Line-up: Sarganis (Talikriadis h-t) – Khatziathanasiou, Mavridis, Manolas, Kolomitrousis – Skartados, Tsaloukhidis, Mitropoulos (Mikhos 73), Nioplias (Tsiolis 73) – Saravakos, Anastopoulos (c)
Qualifier 1: Greece 1-1 Denmark
Line-up (5-3-2): Talikriadis – Khatziathanasiou, Manolas, Mavridis, Tsaloukhidis, Kolomitrousis – Mitropoulos (Georgamlis 60), Skartados (Karapialis 76), Bonovas – Saravakos, Anastopoulos (c)
A battling display ensured that the hosts left the field of play with a deserved point. They had gone in front through a fine headed goal by midfield man Mitropoulos before the break, but they conceded possession in the second half as the visitors fought their way back into the game
Qualifier 2: Romania 3-0 Greece
Line-up: Talikriadis – Khatziathanasiou, Mavridis, Manolas, Kolomitrousis – Bonovas, Tsaloukhidis, Mitropoulos (Koutoulas h-t), Tsiantakis (Nioplias 68) – Saravakos, Anastopoulos (c)
Having shown plenty of battle and commitment against the Danish, Greece came back down to earth against an opponent which was far superior in every department.
Friendly: Greece 3-0 Hungary
Goals: Lagonidis, Tsaloukhidis (2)
Line-up: Gitsioudis (Oikonomopoulos 78) – Khatziathanasiou, Koutoulas, Vakalopoulos, Kolomitrousis – Lagonidis (G Papadopoulos 82), Tsaloukhidis (c), Nioplias, Tsiantakis (Bonovas 82) – Borbokis (Dimitriadis 82), Karasavvidis (Kavouras 74)
This was Alekos Sofianidis’ first match in charge. In an inexperienced line-up, only defenders Kolomitrousis and Tsaloukhidis, as well as midfielder Bonovas, were in double appearance figures. The game also saw the debut of no less than four Greek players, albeit only Iraklis midfielder Giorgos Papadopoulos would feature during the qualification for Italia ’90
Friendly: Albania 1-1 Greece
Line-up: Oikonomopoulos – Apostolakis, Mavridis, Koutoulas (G Papadopoulos 53), Khatziathanasiou – Lagonidis (Kavouras 57), Tsaloukhidis (c), Nioplias, Tsiantakis (Oikonomidis 87) – Borbokis, Karasavvidis (Kalogeropoulos 69)
Defenders Mavridis and Apostolakis were the most experienced this time around, and Tsaloukhidis featured as captain. There had been two further debutants, neither of whom would be featuring in the qualification. Olympiakos midfielder Tsiantakis got his first international goal
Friendly: Greece 1-2 Portugal
Line-up (4-4-2): Oikonomopoulos – Apostolakis, Mavridis (c) (Vakalopoulos h-t), Manolas (Koutoulas h-t), Khatziathanasiou – Tsiantakis, Tsaloukhidis (Maragkos 78), Nioplias, Borbokis – Kalogeropoulos (Kavouras 74), Samaras
Greece were fortunate to escape with a single-goal defeat, as they were inferior to their opponents for large chunks of the game. There were several big goalscoring opportunities for the Portuguese, who came across an inspired Oikonomopoulos. However, a few of his team mates were at the other end of the scale, and underperforming at this level should cost you. Tsiantakis came out of the game with some credibility.
Friendly: Greece 1-2 England
Goal: Saravakos (pen.)
Line-up (5-3-2): Oikonomopoulos – Khatziathanasiou (Manolas 72), Kallitzakis, Mavridis, Tsaloukhidis, Koutoulas – Lagonidis (Borbokis 39), Nioplias, Tsiantakis – Saravakos (c), Samaras (Kalogeropoulos h-t)
Saravakos was back in the side, and it was his goal from the spot that gave the Greeks 1-0 in the first minute. AEK libero Koutoulas came into the side at left-back, and Lagonidis kept his place to the right in a three man midfield. Tsaloukhidis, usually operating as a defensive midfielder, was acting as a third central defender on this occasion, pretty much like against Denmark. A first half injury to Lagonidis saw him replaced by Borbokis. During the break, with the scores at 1-1, Kalogeropoulos replaced Samaras, who had won Greece the penalty when he was felled by Butcher. England the better side, and edged it with their late goal. By that time, Greece had taken off right-back Khatziathanasiou for Manolas, a regular at centre-half.
Friendly: Greece 4-2 Norway
Goals: Samaras, Vakalopoulos, Tsaloukhidis, Saravakos
Line-up (4-4-2): Gitsioudis – Apostolakis, Koutoulas (Vakalopoulos 55), Kallitzakis, Khatziathanasiou – Oikonomidis, Tsaloukhidis, Nioplias (Kavouras 59), Maragkos – Saravakos (c), Samaras
There was a paltry 994 spectators for this one. Forwards Samaras and Saravakos got a goal each, and there was another apiece for defensive players Tsaloukhidis and Vakalopoulos. Panathinaikos full-back Khatziathanasiou was well established in the team by now. Sofianidis tested a few players, but few staked positive claims.
Friendly: Greece 3-2 East Germany
Goals: Saravakos 2, Wahl (own goal)
Line-up (4-4-2): Oikonomopoulos – Apostolakis, Manolas (Koutoulas h-t (Vakalopoulos 80)), Kallitzakis, Khatziathanasiou – Bonovas, Tsaloukhidis, Nioplias, Tsiantakis (Maragkos 87) – Saravakos (c), Kavouras (Borbokis 82)
Yet again an appalling attendance figure: 933 had paid to watch! Saravakos scored twice, and there was an East German own goal as well. The experienced Manolas was back in the team
Friendly: Greece 0-1 Turkey
Line-up (4-4-2): Oikonomopoulos – Apostolakis, Mavridis, Kallitzakis, Khatziathanasiou – Bonovas (Georgakopoulos 52), Tsaloukhidis, Nioplias (Tountziaris 52), Tsiantakis (Borbokis 79) – Saravakos (c), Samaras
This was a fifth successive defeat against Greece’ arch rivals in what was only their fifth ever meeting. At least more than 4000 came to watch, but the national team holds scant appeal to the people. There were a couple of further debuts, though neither would be featuring during the qualification. The match was also Sofianidis’ last in charge
Friendly: Greece 1-4 Yugoslavia
Line-up (4-5-1): Oikonomopoulos (Sarganis h-t) – Apostolakis, Mavridis (Koutoulas h-t), Kallitzakis, Khatziathanasiou – Borbokis, Mitropoulos (c), Tsaloukhidis, Georgakopoulos (Savvidis 62), Tsiantakis – Samaras (Vakalopoulos h-t)
In Georgiadis’ first match in charge, Greece lost heavily to a solid opponent. Midfielder Mitropoulos played in his first international since the 3-0 defeat in Romania, and won his 60th cap. He also got the Greek equalizer for 1-1. Tsaloukhidis had been Georgiadis’ first captain. Conceded three late goals.
Qualifier 3: Greece 0-0 Romania
Line-up (4-5-1): Oikonomopoulos – Apostolakis, Mavridis, Manolas, Khatziathanasiou – Saravakos (c), G Papadopoulos (Bonovas 66), Tsaloukhidis, Savvidis, Tsiantakis – Samaras
Despite being on the back foot for an hour, Greece managed to salvage a point. There was a great improvement for the final half hour, when the home side had even threatened to score the winning goal. Midfielder Savvidis had his first taste of qualifying action to replace his suspended Olympiakos team mate Mitropoulos
Qualifier 4: Denmark 7-1 Greece
Line-up (4-4-2): Oikonomopoulos – Apostolakis (Savvidis h-t), Mavridis, Manolas, Khatziathanasiou – G Papadopoulos, Tsaloukhidis, Mitropoulos (c) (Kallitzakis 50), Tsiantakis – Saravakos, Samaras
Georgiadis had picked some tough tackling tactics, and this would eventually seal their fate, as Manolas saw his second yellow at 2-1 down early in the second half. The Greek more or less gave up as the goals kept coming, but they were up against quality opposition, so even at full strength they would not have returned with much
Friendly: Norway 0-0 Greece
Line-up: Oikonomopoulos – Apostolakis, Mavridis, Manolas, Khatziathanasiou – Bonovas, Tsaloukhidis, Savvidis (Stamatis 86), Kofidis (Tsiantakis 86) – Saravakos (c), Samaras (Dimopoulos 72)
Friendly: Poland 3-0 Greece
Line-up: Oikonomopoulos (Plitsis h-t) – Agoroyiannis, Kallitzakis, Apostolakis (c), Khatziathanasiou (Alexiou h-t) – Mitsibonas, Tsaloukhidis (Karageorgiou h-t), Savvidis, Kofidis (Maragkos h-t) – Saravakos (Dimitriadis h-t), Dimopoulos
Friendly: Yugoslavia 3-0 Greece
Line-up (4-4-2): Plitsis – Agoroyiannis (Alexiou h-t), Mavridis, Vakalopoulos, Apostolakis – Stamatis, Mitsibonas, Savvidis (Karageorgiou 18), Kofidis (Adamopoulos 65) – Saravakos (c), Maragkos
Greece fell two goals behind quickly, and honestly, they were never in with a chance against a far superior Yugoslavia, who drifted in and out of the game, something which was to the Greek’s rescue. Otherwise, the victory of margin could’ve been greater, even if Saravakos (twice) and Kofidis had first half opportunities. The second half saw little pace and not a whole lot of quality, but Greece conceded again ten minutes from time. Apostolakis should’ve walked for trying to trip the referee over after Yugoslavia had been awarded a penalty late in the first half (which they missed).
Qualifier 5: Bulgaria 4-0 Greece
Line-up (4-4-2): Plitsis – Khatziathanasiou, Mavridis, Vakalopoulos, Koutoulas – Tsiantakis, Papaiouannou, Stamatis (Nioplias 69), Kofidis – Saravakos (c), Dimitriadis
In a somewhat ill-tempered match played in horrible conditions on a dreadfully heavy pitch, Greece suffer four goals in the final 20 minutes to lose heavily on the road yet again. There’s little credit to take back to Greece after having three players sent off in the second half, even if the inconsistent referee hardly helps proceedings. These wholesale changes had brought little fortune. Now Greece were favourites to finish bottom of the group.
Friendly: Hungary 1-1 Greece
Line-up: T Papadopoulos (c) – Karageorgiou, Khatzimoysiadis, Deliyiannis, Moustakidis – Vouturitsas (Vlahos 89), D Papadopoulos, Nioplias, Maragkos (Tsifoutis 86) – Borbokis, Dimitriadis (Zakkas h-t)
Qualifier 6: Greece 1-0 Bulgaria
Line-up: T Papadopoulos – Karageorgiou, Manolas, Deliyiannis, Moustakidis – Vouturitsas, D Papadopoulos (Alexiou 76), Nioplias, Maragkos – Borbokis, Samaras (Stamatis 29)
Greece got their revenge against Bulgaria following the previous month’s debacle, and it was midfielder Nioplias’ first ever goal for his country which saw them advance past Bulgaria in the final standings.
48 players appeared in Greece’ 15 internationals during the calendar year of 1989
Greece’ qualification campaign was an unimpressive one. They managed to avoid defeat on home soil, and the two draws against Romania and Denmark were fine results, and in addition they managed to round their qualification off with a narrow win against Bulgaria. However, all three away matches ended in heavy defeats, thus questioning not only the quality of players available to the two managers (in addition to interrim boss Alekos Sofianidis, who would step aside before qualification resumed early in the summer of ’89), but also the tactical dispositions. With a total of four sendings off (and 13 yellow cards), even their discipline could be drawn into question.
No less than 38 players were in action across the six qualifiers, and no playe featured in all matches. There was not a whole lot of continuity in team selection, even if six players started four or five of their six games. Tough-tackling full-back Iakovos Khatziathanasiou was perhaps the player to emerge with the greatest level of credibility from Greece’ qualification campaign. Perhaps also wide player Nikos Tsiantakis was someone who did well from his standing heading into the campaign. A player like Dimitris Saravakos failed to inspire the team.
Final position: 3 (out of 4)
Total record: 6 1 2 3 3-15 4
Home record: 3 1 2 0 2-1 4
Away record: 3 0 0 3 1-14 0
Number of players used: 37
Number of players including unused substitutes: 44
Ever-presents (540 mins): 0
Leading goalscorer: Mitropoulos, Mavridis and Nioplias (all with one goal each)
Yellow/red cards: 13/4
– game by game
|Player||Den (h)||Rom (a)||Rom (h)||Den (a)||Bul (a)||Bul (h)||Apps||Mins|
|Pos||Player||Average rating||Number of rated games|
17.01.1990 Greece 2-0 Belgium
Goals: Tsaloukhidis, Apostolakis
Line-up: Sarganis – Apostolakis, Manolas, Kallitzakis, Leontiadis (Koutoulas h-t) – Maragkos (Karataidis 80), Tsaloukhidis, Stamatis (Tsifoutis 76), Tsiantakis – Saravakos (c), Borbokis
28.03.1990 Greece 2-1 Israel
Goals: Manolas 2
Line-up: Plitsis – Apostolakis (Karageorgiou 61), Manolas, Kallitzakis, Karataidis (Koutoulas 61) – Maragkos (Kourbanas 79), Tsaloukhidis, Nioplias (Tsekos 70), Tsiantakis – Saravakos (c) (Zakkas 61), Borbokis (Samaras 61)
30.05.1990 Italy 0-0 Greece
Line-up: T Papadopoulos – Apostolakis, Manolas, Kallitzakis, G Papadopoulos – Maragkos (Kofidis 77), Tsaloukhidis, Nioplias, Toursounidis (Tsiantakis 59) – Saravakos (c), Borbokis (Samaras 71)