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World Cup – In Brief

Santos comments attract criticism back in Greece

Outgoing Greece coach Fernando Santos has angered sections of the local media and football 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 are 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.

Train trouble sends passengers onto tracks before World Cup game

An equipment failure on the train tracks linking downtown Sao Paulo to the city’s World Cup stadium led hundreds of passengers to walk along the tracks on Tuesday, just hours before the city was set to host a match between Argentina and Switzerland.

Trouble started at 8.05 local time, but trains were running normally about 90 minutes later, said a spokeswoman for Sao Paulo’s metropolitan train service, which was working along with local police to remove straggling passengers and soccer fans from the tracks.

Malfunctioning trains are a common sight in Sao Paulo, where public transportation is often stretched to capacity, and passengers frequently descend onto the tracks in frustration.

A special World Cup Express line between downtown and the Corinthians arena began running normally about two hours after the incident, according to the train operator’s Twitter feed. Subway announcements advised fans heading to the game to remain on a parallel subway line that also runs to the stadium.

Colombians hope slain player’s memory inspires

Colombian fans are paying tribute to defender Andres Escobar, gunned down 20 years ago after scoring an own goal in the World Cup, and hope his memory will inspire the current crop’s hunt for glory.

In one of the darkest chapters of football history, Escobar was shot outside a bar in Medellin on July 2, 1994, in apparent retribution for an own goal he scored days earlier hastening Colombia’s exit from the World Cup in the United States.

Some Colombian fans in Brazil have been carrying Escobar’s photo to games as they have watched their team march into the quarter-finals with four wins out of four. And Escobar’s brother, Santiago, has urged them to keep going in his honour.

“We dedicate this triumph to Andres Escobar,” one fan said on Twitter after Colombia’s victory over Uruguay set up Friday’s quarter-final against hosts Brazil.

“Andres Escobar is living through this team,” added another in a flurry of social media discussions of Escobar’s legacy on the eve of Wednesday’s anniversary of his death.

While Escobar’s death was synonymous with a 1990s Colombia wracked by violence and drug cartels, fans say the star of the 2014 team – baby-faced midfielder James Rodriguez – coincides with the image of the nation’s rebirth since then.

Though yet to end Latin America’s longest-running guerrilla war or tame the cocaine trade, Colombia has made huge strides in security and has also developed an increasingly prosperous economy, drawing tourists and foreign investors alike.

 

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