New Greece coach Santos off to winning start

BELGRADE - A 45th-minute goal by striker Dimitrios Salpingidis gave Greece a 1-0 victory over Serbia in a friendly on Wednesday and a winning start for new coach Fernando Santos.

Portuguese Santos will be buoyed by a solid performance from a revamped Greek side while it was in all likelihood the last game in charge for counterpart Radomir Antic, who is under pressure from the Serbian FA (FSS) to step down.

"We can take a lot of positives from this game but it also revealed some flaws which we need to look at and eradicate," Santos told a news conference after seeing his side earn a smash-and-grab win.

"We were a bit fortunate because Serbia missed some good chances and had more possession but overall I am pleased and we are looking forward to Euro 2012 qualifying (next month).

"It's early days yet but I am confident we can qualify for the finals," said Santos, a replacement for German Otto Rehhagel who won Euro 2004 with Greece.

Antic, who refused to take a pay cut after Serbia's early World Cup exit in June, saw his team miss several sitters in a lacklustre display which dealt a potentially fatal blow to his hopes of carrying on.

His position is also hampered by Antic's four-game FIFA touchline ban for insulting the referee after the 2-1 World Cup defeat by Australia, taking effect at the start of Euro 2012 qualifying.

Hailed by some 12,000 fans before kickoff, Antic looked a man resigned to his fate after only a handful applauded him off at the end of the match.

"The crowd's support is the only thing that matters to me, their response speaks volumes on a night when football obviously took a back seat to other issues," he said.

"We can all draw different conclusions but I can't answer the question whether I will stay at the helm because it's not my decision to make."

Antic is at loggerheads with FSS president Tomislav Karadzic. He is also bereft of support within the executive board who are expected to pass a verdict on his tenure by the end of the week.

Follow on Twitter
Join on Facebook