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Greece promises attacking changes

sports Updated: Jun 11, 2008 22:13 IST
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Greece promised a swift overhaul of its defensive tactics and said it would be forced to attack hard in its next European Championship game against Russia. The European champions lost to Sweden 2-0 in their Group D opener Tuesday, after their heavily defensive side failed to produce any real offensive threat.

"We're playing our last hand," said goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis, who conceded two goals in six minutes Tuesday. "Our backs are against the wall. Saturday's match against the Russians is critical.

"I don't know if we'll make it. but you'll see a different game."

Nikopolidis, appearing more relaxed than before the first game, said Greece had been badly organized and that dwelling on the defeat would serve no purpose.

"What's the point talking about a goal you've conceded?" the silver-haired goalkeeper said. "We've been in this position many times."

Greece recovered from a 4-1 loss to visiting Turkey during European qualifying and went on to comfortably win the group. On Tuesday, Nikopolidis was one of seven starters from the winning Euro 2004 squad, but he denied that his teammates had slowed with age. "There wasn't a physical problem with the team," Nikopolidis said. "The Swedes had read us well. Our basic problem is the way we organized our game."

Captain Angelos Basinas said team members and fans needed to take their mind off Sweden.

"What we need to do is calm down," he said. "We won't have the luxury to wait in the next game. We'll have to attack _ that's obvious."

Greece fielded five defenders Tuesday, often leaving a lone striker to take on the Swedes.

"What counts is that we lost the game," Basinas added. "We have no choice but to fight on."

Addressing fans, Basinas said 2004 has nothing to do with 2008. "Just because you have a big success once, doesn't mean you'll have it again and again," Basinas said. "Greeks are impatient. Our team has a lot of young players who have good prospects in the long term."