Football

Orestis Karnezis makes final Greece World Cup squad

Karnezis: on-loan at Granada (©GettyImages)
Karnezis: on-loan at Granada (©GettyImages).

Granada’s Orestis Karnezis and Levante’s Loukas Vyntra have been named in Greece’s final World Cup squad.

The La Liga pair have been included as manager Fernando Santos finalised his 23-man party.

They have also made history by becoming the first ever Spanish-based players to be part of a Greek squad at the finals.

Veteran striker Theofanis Gekas is also present. The 34-year-old former Levante striker is one of two players who used to ply their trade in La Liga, along with ex-Racing Santander midfielder Alexandros Tziolis.

Vyntra, who was 47 caps, has made 33 league appearances as Les Granotes have finished 10th and improved a place from last season’s finish.

The 33-year-old will be appearing at his second World Cup, having been an ever-present at the 2010 finals where his side failed to get out the group.

Karnezis only came into the international fold two years ago when Santos stated that his good performances would eventually warrant him a place in the squad for the World Cup qualifying campaign. He couldn’t have been more true to his word.

The custodian was an ever-present for the 2004 European champions, conceding just four times as they finished second in UEFA Group G with an inferior goal difference to Bosnia and Herzegovina costing them automatic qualification.

However, the 28-year-old continued to play his part as Greece came through the play-offs against Romania.

He joined Granada on loan immediately after signing for Udinese, but he made just six La Liga appearances for the Spanish side who survived on the final day, as he was unable to get ahead of number one choice Roberto.

His personal highlight of the campaign came against Barcelona when an inspired performance secured a surprise 1-0 victory. Despite the Catalan giants having a total of 29 shots on goal, Karnezis made six crucial saves to keep them at bay.

Looking at the squad, Greece certainly have good attacking threat with the likes of Gekas, Giorgios Samaras and Kostas Mitroglou.

They have failed to really make their mark on the world stage since their surprise victory at Euro 2004.

This will be only their third World Cup having made their debut in 1994, where they suffered three defeats with no points or goals and 10 goals conceded.

They registered both their first goals and win in South Africa. It came against Nigeria following a 2-0 defeat to South Korea, with Dimitris Salpingidis and Vasilis Torosidis scoring in their 2-1 win. A strong Argentina side prevented them from progressing to the second round.

Group C is fairly average with Colombia, Ivory Coast and Japan providing the opposition, so now is as good a chance as any to advance to the knockout stages for the first time.

Their tournament begins against the Colombians on June 14, before taking on Japan five days later. The final group game is against the Africans on June 24, while a last 16 clash with England could be a real possibility should they come through Group D.



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Topics:
World Cup
Football

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