Australia’s Sydney friendly with Greece in June will be a reunion of sorts for coach Ange Postecoglou, who has a personal connection with Greek star Andreas Samaris.
Postecoglou coached the exciting midfielder when he was in charge of Greek club Panachaiki in 2008, and they are set to reunite for the clash in Sydney on June 8.
It was Postecoglou who saw talent in the then 18-year-old Samaris, giving him a start in the first team at the Greek third division club.
And, like Postecoglou, Samaris has since gone on to bigger and better things, now playing for Portuguese giants Benfica while he has 20 caps for Greece.
I’m looking forward to it, they have some great individuals. I’ve got a personal connection in Andreas Samaris whose a big part of their national team.
“I coached him when I was in Greece and he was a teenager and we were throwing him in," Postecoglou revealed on Tuesday.
“Seeing him blossom and playing at Benfica and now part of the Greece team…I know the quality that’s in their [Greece] side and it’s going to be a fantastic challenge for our boys."
Postecoglou added the game against Greece will see the visitors taking it very seriously as they prepare for their European World Cup qualifiers.
“What I like about this game is I know Greece are pretty determined, they had a very disappointing European Championships qualifying campaign and they are a pretty proud country.
“The country itself has been going through a pretty hard time and the football team has kind of been the beacon in recent years.
"I know when they come here they will take it very seriously, they don’t want to miss the next World Cup.”
- This Greece game is the last time Australia play before the final round of AFC qualifying begins in September.
- Greece failed to qualify for Euro 2016 in June.
- This fixture's history goes back to 1969 when the Greeks played three games in Australia, with a win a loss and a draw.
“Even these games in March and the ones in the May-June window will be an opportunity to just make sure that leading into the final round of qualifying I’ve explored every option I have.
“I want to make sure that in every position we have enough depth to cover anything that happens over what’s going to be a pretty tough qualifying process to get to Russia.
“We’ve cast the net far and wide over this period of qualifying and even with the squad in March you will see some new faces in there and we’ll continue to do that in the games against Greece.
“By the time the main round of qualifying comes we’ll have a real solid base and foundation to cope with what’s ahead.”
The match will have extra special significance for Postecoglou, who was born in Greece before his family immigrated to Australia when he was young.
“I’ve been to World Youth Cups, World Cups, World Club Championships, we’ve got the Confeds Cup coming up…it’s definitely going to be a special moment,” the Socceroo boss said.
“It’s the country of my berth, my parents made the bold decision many years ago and without that I wouldn’t have lived the life I have.
“On the night I think it will be a very special night…. Hopefully I’ll have a good memory of it at the end by performing well and doing the country proud.”
Socceroos v Greece
ANZ Stadium, Sydney
Saturday 4 June 2016
8pm kick off