When I started my time as Greece coach, our first objective was to win our Nations League group. Unfortunately, since 2014 Greece had not been able to qualify for World Cups or European Championships and this had led to a loss of contact between the team and its fans. As everyone knows, in football, the best way to reconnect is with victories. And that’s what we needed.
We started away from home, in Northern Ireland. After a very serious and professional game, we managed to win 1-0. Although on paper it may not look like much, this win was, for everyone in the national team group, a very good boost for what was to come.
The second match, away from home again, this time in Kosovo. Ordinary people are probably unaware of the political rivalry between the two countries. It was a very tense and evenly matched game. Once again we managed to win 0-1. There was already a winning atmosphere in the team and in what we heard from Greece.
And then it was time to play at home, in front of our fans. And what better end to the game than a 3-0 victory against Cyprus, in a match that I will remember as a reunion between the fans and the national team.
The next match, again at home, was against Kosovo. It was an important match because, if we won it, we achieved our objective (winning the group) early, with two matches still to play. It was an exciting, hard-fought match. With a lot of tension, both on the pitch and in the stands, and with a more than happy ending. We won 2-0 and the celebration at the end of the match is probably what will remain forever in the memory.
From that moment on: enthusiasm, connection with the people, excitement.
The two remaining matches were not decisive. We ended up, after waiting two months, losing in Cyprus 1-0 and winning the last match against Northern Ireland 3-1 (of which people say we had a second half unseen for a long time in the national team).
Fortunately, the first challenge of my time as Greece coach has been met and we have won our Nations League group. From now on, let’s concentrate on qualifying for Euro 2024.