Greeks believe in little miracles again after historical win
Greek soccer fans started believing in little miracles again after the historical win of their national soccer team in Thursday's World Cup group B match against Nigeria 2-1, Xinhua reported.
After the crushing defeat by South Korea in their opener last Saturday, Greeks were overwhelmed with disappointment. They even compared the performance of the players with the bad performance of Greek national economy this year that reached the brink of bankruptcy.
But in their second match in South Africa, the Greeks defeated Nigeria, scoring the first win ever for a Greek team competing in the final phase of the Mundial. The last time Greece participated among the 32 teams reaching the final phase of the World Cup, was 16 years ago.
Dimitris Salpingidis and Vassilis Torosidis, the scorers of the two goals, were turned into national heroes in a few minutes by the same fans who earlier predicted one more loss for the team and asked for new players, coach and change of tactic.
Most Greeks were so pessimistic about the prospects of the team which had won the European Championship in 2004 in Portugal, that the majority skipped large gatherings in outdoors cafeterias that is the typical image of soccer fans across the country during major international competitions.
Expressing Greek people's joy over the result on Thursday evening, Greek President Karolos Papoulias congratulated the team.
"Your win fills us all up with pride and gives us optimism. On behalf of all Greeks I congratulate you," said Papoulias.
Similar statements were made by Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou from Brussels as well as main opposition party leader Antonis Samaras.
Papandreou made a telephone call to wish the team the best, noting that the win shows a positive image of Greece to international media which for months focus on the crisis.
Greek fans do not have high hopes for the next Group B match against Argentina on June 22, which will be decisive for the qualifying 16 teams which will continue in the next phase.
But after Thursday's historical win, Greek media and fans comment that this is an evidence for the economic sector too that in difficult times, Greeks can achieve miracles if they work hard.
"Tonight we made history in the soccer field. The rebirth of a whole national economy is much more difficult, but if we change and try more, eventually we can make it," commented Kostas Syrgiannis, a 31-year-old bank employee.