Facebook Twitter

Santos asks for more discipline from Greece

SHARE Santos asks for more discipline from Greece

LEGIONOWO, Poland — With two key players missing from Greece's next match at the European Championship, Greece coach Fernando Santos is demanding more discipline from his players.

Central defender Avraam Papadopoulos flew home Saturday with ligament damage in his left leg after being injured in Greece's 1-1 draw with Poland, while partner Sokratis Papastathopoulos will sit out after being sent off in Friday's match.

The duo played a key role as defense-reliant Greece went through qualifying for Euro 2012 unbeaten to their third straight European tournament, conceding five goals and scoring 14 in 10 matches.

"I am very sad — we all are — about what happened with Avraam Papadopoulos," Santos said. "The main thing we are hoping for at this moment is that he makes a speedy return to playing."

Team officials said the 27-year-old Papadopoulos could be out for up to six months.

He was helped off the field in the 37th minute of Friday's tournament opener after what initially appeared to be a harmless challenge from Poland striker Robert Lewandowski in the Group A match. He played for 15 minutes after being treated on the sidelines, but asked to be replaced.

Greek champion Olympiakos, where Papadopoulos plays, accused the national team of making "criminal errors" by allowing him to play on — a claim Greece's head doctor Haris Christopoulos rejected, arguing that the severity of his injuries were not related to how soon he received treatment.

Santos urged players to play closer attention to pre-match instructions, and avoid a repeat of Friday's sluggish start against Poland.

"We knew that (Poland) would have the home crowd and put pressure on us," the Portuguese coach said. "I am very well aware of the mistakes that my (players) made. That's because before the match, I made out a list of all the things the players should avoid doing. And those are all the things they did."

In the match, 10-man Greece rallied in the second half with a goal from Dimitris Salpigidis after the Poles had taken an early lead with a strike from Lewandowski.

"For sure, there is a sense of disappointment because it was possible to get the result we wanted. Unfortunately things did not go our way for 25 minutes," he said, referring to the Poland game. "They were very strong on the right and linked up very well. We had prepared for this, but for 25 minutes we did the opposite of what we had planned, so they got the goal."

Veteran midfielder Costas Katsouranis fell back to help with defensive duty — a role he is likely to retain against the Czechs on Tuesday.

The 32-year-old veteran of the winning Euro 2004 squad said he thought the competition would get tougher as the Group A games progressed, with Russia to play after the Czechs.

"We don't take these teams lightly. I think the Czechs are better than Poland," he said. "But last night's game did give us a lot of confidence. And from the tournaments I've played in, I know how important that is."