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How Greece can still be represented at the 2018 World Cup

Greece may not have qualified for the 2018 World Cup, but there could still be a Hellenic flavour in Russia

While James Troisi, Alex Gersbach, Apostolos Giannou, and Dimi Petratos will be excited that Van Marwijk chose them in his preliminary squad, they face an anxious wait to see if they make the final cut for Russia.

The Dutchman will reduce the preliminary squad from 32 to 26 players this coming week, prior to their arrival in Turkey for their pre-tournament training camp which starts next Saturday.

The Socceroos play the Czech Republic in Austria on Friday 1 June and van Marwijk will then announce the final 23-player squad to compete at the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Sunday 3 June.

With 37 caps for Australia, Melbourne Victory midfielder Troisi is the more experienced of the four and looks like one of the frontrunners to make the final squad. Born to an Italian father and a Greek mother, the 29-year-old played two games at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and featured in eight matches for the Socceroos during the 2018 Asian qualifiers.

Van Marwijk chose Troisi for the Socceroos squad that played in two friendlies against Norway and Colombia earlier in the year and he was also a prominent member of Melbourne Victory’s 2017–18 Grand Final winning team.

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Petratos also looks like a good bet to make the plane trip to Russia after the Australian coach singled out the 25-year-old when he announced the squad – specifically referencing the Jets star’s versatility.

“Everybody saw the game on Saturday (A-League Grand Final) and sees the potential of Petratos, and I think he is a very good player,” van Marwijk said.

Van Marwijk gave Petratos and his ex-Newcastle teammate Andrew Nabbout their Socceroos debuts in the friendlies against Norway and Colombia and the duo seem to have made an impression.

“They have qualities I like,” he said. “Petratos can play on the left side and the right side and he can play in the number 10 position. They are fast, and they are technically good, and they can score goals. They are both introverted players, but I like them.”

One of the surprises of the squad was striker Giannou who hasn’t featured for the Socceroos since October 2016. After struggling for game time with Chinese club Guangzhou, the 28-year-old has found form at the right time after he moved to the Cypriot First Division midway through the season.

The 185cm tall striker has been a consistent figure for AEK Larnaca, helping them to the Cypriot Cup Final and the five capped Socceroo may have done enough to impress van Marwijk to secure a World Cup spot.

However, with Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Jamie Maclaren, and Nikita Rukavytsya also vying for the striking positions, van Marwijk acknowledged he has a tough decision to make.

“I am 100 per cent sure about one or two strikers and I will not nominate five or six strikers,” he said.

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“You are talking about strikers, but you are talking about different styles. Juric and Giannou they are very big strikers, who you can play the ball to and they can keep it and have the other players come around. You also have strikers who are very fast and both strikers you sometimes need. I like playing with fast players, especially offensive but the players have to fit together. Normally you will not nominate only three very big strikers so then you have to make up the difference between a big striker and a fast striker.”

After playing for Australia at last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup, Gersbach looked to have secured his spot in the Socceroos squad. But after being out of favour at his Norwegian club Rosenborg the 20-year-old dropped down the pecking order.

Needing regular game time, Gersbach moved to French club Lens in January and the move seems to have paid off. After playing 13 games to finish off the season, the left back has recaptured the form that saw him earn four caps for the Socceroos and he could also be on his way to the 2018 World Cup.

Source: neoskosmos