Key Greece national defender Kostas Manolas has received a one match ban from FIFA for deliberately earning a yellow card during the qualifying match with Cyprus, something which has not gone down well with the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO).
If facing a talented Croatia side wasn’t hard enough, Greece have been shockingly robbed of key defender Kostas Manolas for the first playoff match. FIFA’s decision is certainly a contentious one, as they have accused Manolas of violating fair play rules as to avoid a suspension for these playoff games. However, the EPO don’t have the opportunity to appeal the decision.
According to gazzetta.gr, the EPO are fuming with rage about the decision, but they do not have plans to release a statement mentioning their anger. In addition to FIFA’s decision itself, the federation is particularly frustrated with the timing of the decision seeing that Greece’s fixture with Cyprus took place a month ago. Their discontent is perfectly understandable, especially given that midfielder Petros Mantalos will be out for the next six months with an ACL injury.
In a twist to proceedings, sport-fm.gr informs that the EPO had been notified in writing that there was a risk surrounding Manolas, hinting that the defender was going to be banned for the first playoff fixture against Croatia in Zagreb.
Following Mantalos’ injury, this is another setback which head coach Michael Skibbe really didn’t need. Nevertheless, he does have options for the defence, with Kyriakos Papadopoulos expected to take Manolas’ place next to Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
by Shaun Nicolaides
*For more sport head to agonasport.com