ATHENS – Outgoing Greece coach Fernando Santos has angered sections of the local media and soccer figures by claiming that some of his players were more interested in personal success than following instructions.
Greece lost on penalties against 10-man Costa Rica in their last 16 clash in Recife on Sunday, after the match had ended 1-1 in extra time.
However, Santos, whose contract expired on Monday, said in a radio interview in his native Portugal that instead of focusing on teamwork, some players had pursued individual glory.
Outspoken Panathinaikos president Giannis Alafouzos led the criticism of the 59-year-old Santos.
“He is blaming the players for the elimination. It’s a shame he did not use the talented young players at his disposal instead of being stuck in his ways,” Alafouzos said on his Twitter account.
Prominent Greek sports media site gazzetta.gr weighed into the debate with an article asking: “Santos, why did you have to spoil everything right at the end?,” referring to the comments and criticising the fact Santos left Brazil early to catch a flight to Portugal, missing the team’s farewell dinner.
In quotes attributed to Radio Noticias, Santos said: “We had two or three players more interested in being remembered as the man to score a historic goal for Greece.
“It concerned them more to score than the correct circulation of the ball, leading to many mistakes and us losing possession.”
Despite playing for more than an hour with a player advantage, the Greeks were thwarted on several occasions by Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Santos, who had spent four years in charge of Greece, was banished to the stands before the penalty shootout took place and had to watch on television as his side crashed out of the tournament.
Greece is believed to be at an advanced stage in the search for Santos’s replacement with media reports claiming a verbal agreement had already been reached with Claudio Ranieri, with the Italian expected to be unveiled later this month.