By Karolos Grohmann
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece coach Angelos Anastasiadis woke up to mounting pressure on Wednesday after players and federation officials vented their frustration and demanded immediate changes following their home loss to Armenia in their Euro 2020 qualifier.
Greece suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to the low-ranked Armenians in Athens on Tuesday, leaving the 2004 European champions in fourth place in Group J on four points from four matches.
Italy, who also beat Greece in Athens last week, are top on 12 points, followed by Finland on nine and Armenia on six. The top two teams from each group will qualify.
“I would like to apologise for my share of the responsibility,” Greek Football Federation alternate vice president Nikos Vakalis said on social media after the game.
“I thought before the two (Euro 2020 qualifiers) that he (Anastasiadis) is the only one to revive the team at this stage. But we are judged by the results.”
Anastasiadis was appointed in October 2018 after the departure of Germany’s Michael Skibbe following Greece’s disappointing Nations League debut.
But in their four Euro qualifiers so far, the Greeks have managed only one win – against Liechtenstein.
“As far as the players are concerned, I take full responsibility,” said captain Sokratis Papastathopoulos. “Maybe some of them are too young or inexperienced. Maybe some are not at the national team level and that might include me.”
“We do not deserve to advance to the finals with this form. There needs to be changes,” the Arsenal defender said. “I am not the one who will talk about the coach.”
But his jibe was not lost on Anastasiadis.
“Why would I resign. Is there a reason?” he told reporters. “I am very satisfied by the team’s performance but very disappointed and bitter by the result. “
“I believe we will qualify. I am not a quitter. If Mr Papastathopoulos does not believe we can do it then he should not be here,” Anastasiadis said.
“We quit before we finish? There are still 18 points up for grabs. I have not learned how to quit.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)