‘Can you believe it?’ It’s a term often used in football. Commentators use it for things that are utterly believable. Like a professional footballer who trains everyday whose job it is to score goals and make passes but the moment when Greece beat Ivory Coast in the last minute that is very believable!
How can Greece lose against a team with Costa in their opponent’s name?
So close yet so far away for the Greeks, they should have won the Round 16 game against Costa Rica but the football gods tired of blessing them, cursed them in the end. Poor Theofanis Gekas now has to carry the boulder of World Cup failure on his shoulders for eternity.
Costa Rica Termatofilakas (goal keeper) Keylor Navas was on some Mexican beans, saving everything that came in his way. Just like the IMF Navas denied the Greeks time and time again.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Greece surpassed previous World Cup winners England, Italy and Spain and much more fancied teams like Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Portugal by advancing to the round of 16 at the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

Japan Game
I must say I didn’t think Greece had a hope in Hellas of getting out of their group, especially after they got spanked by Columbia 3-0 in their first game.
I watched the second game with my brother and father at a cafe down the road from me which is owned by Greeks, called Giorgios, on the corner of Kingsgrove Road and William Street (NSW).
Watching Greece battle against Japan to get a point reminded of the halcyon days when I used to watch Sydney Olympic at Leichhardt Oval and Belmore Sports Ground. It all came back to me, the loud, vitriolic swearing, the irrational yelling, the misunderstanding of the coach’s tactics, tearing strips off the players one moment and praising them the next and not forgetting the national pastime of the hand being flung violently into the air with the accompanying “Nah Re Malaka!”.
Sorry Giorgios Cafe customers, but the coach isn’t a clueless ‘Malaka’, he knows what he is doing. He’s sticking to the Otto Rehhagel blueprint. Strong In Defence and Trojan Horse in attack.

Ivory Coast Game
The Greeks made their supporters work for it against the Ivory Coast. After being gifted the ball by the Ivory Coast midfielder Tiote the Samaras(is) twins contrived to get the goal the Greeks needed and it looked like the Greeks and their defensive tactics were heading to the round of 16. But the Ivory Coast came back, Greek celebrations were quelled and the plate smashing had to take a rest.
After hitting the woodwork a couple of times and the end of the game fast approaching it looked like the win was too much to ask. Dormant in the first two games, my Greek spirit came alive when Samaras got clipped in the box and the referee awarded a penalty (and yes it was a penalty English commentator no controversy there!).
With Samaras about to take the spot kick Greeks around the world had a chance to stop cursing the team and the coach Fernando Santos for just one moment. Hacks around the world had to delete the obligatory Greek tragedy line and change their copy because “Can you believe it?” the Greeks are through to the next round!

Costa Rica Game: Greece Ruiz Gekas Penalty Miss
With the above pun Greece has entered into World Cup folklore. Trophies are a sign of football progression but so are puns.
After a couple of days to soak in the penalty loss to Costa Rica there is no point in looking for a scapegoat; (“cough” “Gekas”, “cough” “Salpingidis”). Greece drawing with their Prothoti (Betrayer) namesake Costa (Rica) is no big shame.
After Costa Rica’s Group D win against Italy seven of their players were tested for drugs by FIFA. I’m not saying the Tico keeper was on the ‘roids but some of his saves were so good I would have asked him to piss in a small cup just to make sure.
Since 1949 Costa Rica has had no standing army. Go you hippies! It’s something the Greeks could learn from as they spend a shit load of their GDP on defence. Perhaps instead of having National Service the Greeks could use that time making their young men practice penalties.
In 2012 Costa Rica was ranked Number One in the happiest nation in the World index. There must be heads exploding after they reached the World Cup quarter finals. By contrast it’s no surprise Greece’s happiness index has been falling rapidly due to their economic problems in recent times. At least they’ll have the Ivory Coast game.

Costa Rica Game II:
When Greece equalised in the last minute of play through Sokratis Papastathopoulos (say that name after a few ouzos) it was a surreal moment in my house. I watched the game at my parents’ house, and because they have Foxtel IQ I was able to pause the game during the various toilet breaks. My mother was watching in the kitchen and in the other room sat my two brothers, my Dad and myself.
With not much time in normal play to go we hear a loud shriek coming from the kitchen. It’s my mother yelling “EEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIII, EEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIII”. My mother is getting on in age and likes to yell at the top of her voice like most Cypriot mothers when they are in pain. At first we all thought she fell over or was reeling in pain due to a paper cut. But she came running into the room screaming “they put one in! Greece put one in!!”. Then we look up at the TV screen we were watching and Greece scored. Then the rest of the family realised what was going on and we all EEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIIII’d ourselves.
My mother was watching the game live in the kitchen but the Foxtel IQ was delayed in the other room hence the delay in reaction.
Such was the emotion of the penalties in our house my mother was crying as Gekas went to take his penalty. Thank goodness I only have the Socceroos and Greece to follow because having this much emotional involvement at the World Cup is too much. I got no more dodgy puns left in me.