Greek hopes, like coffers, near empty

PORT ELIZABETH - Greek hopes of making progress in the World Cup looked as bleak as the country's balance sheet following Greece's confidence-sapping defeat in their opening game of the tournament.

The 2-0 loss to South Korea and the uninspired performance that accompanied it will have done nothing to improve the mood or lift the spirits of Greeks who have suffered a miserable year after the country's economic crisis.

But like their politicians, Greek players insisted that there were better days ahead.

"We try to give some happiness to the people in Greece," said forward Georgios Samaras. "It didn't happen today but I am hoping the next game we can give some happiness to people back in our country.

"We are hoping. There is another two games and we know they are difficult games against difficult countries but we will try our best. We are going to keep our heads up and try to focus on our next game."

Despite the team's defiance, Greece's chances of advancing out of Group B look as bleak as their economic fortunes.

Up next are African giants Nigeria followed by South American powerhouse Argentina, one of the World Cup's favourites.

"Maybe the result today was not so good but we are looking forward in a positive way to the game against Nigeria," said Samaras.

"Everyone is disappointed but we don't have time to think about that right now. We have to be positive and try to take something good from this."

Goals from Lee Jung-soo and captain Park-Ji-sung early in each half gave South Korea, semi-finalists in 2002, only their second World Cup win on foreign soil and extended a Greek World Cup slump.

Greece has lost every World Cup game they have played in and are still searching for their first ever goal.

"I'm always disappointed when I lose a match," said Greece's German coach Otto Rehhagel.

"We really have to get our act together. In our next match we have to improve a couple of things and be brave and courageous. Nothing has been played and we don't talk about results until they have been played."

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