Prittas, Patsatzoglou get surprise call from Greece

Midfielders Thanassis Prittas and Christos Patsatzoglou received surprise call-ups to Greece's World Cup provisional squad on Tuesday.

Midfielders Thanassis Prittas and Christos Patsatzoglou received surprise call-ups to Greece's World Cup squad on Tuesday.

Prittas will make his national debut at 31, while Patsatzoglou helped Greece to qualify but missed large portions of this season because of injuries.

"[Selection] was in the back of my mind because I knew national team staff had been watching our games," Prittas said. "I'm very happy the way it turned out, it is the dream of a lifetime."

Twenty-five players announced by coach Otto Rehhagel will travel to Greece's training camp in Switzerland and five were put on a standby list.

The Greeks take on Argentina, South Korea and Nigeria in South Africa, and will play North Korea and Paraguay in warmup matches near their training camp.

Rehhagel is known for his defensive tactics and team-building skills that guided Greece to stunning victory at the 2004 European Championship. But he has been forced to tinker with the roster because of injuries and inconsistent performances during the qualifiers.

Patsatzoglou took part in most Greek qualifiers, but injuries that have stifled most of his career followed him to Cyprus, after he moved to club Omonia last year, keeping him sidelined for much of the season.

Sotiris Ninis leads a crop of young players noticed by the German coach, who normally prefers experience over speed.

The 19-year-old Ninis was left off the roster for Euro 2008 but has since established himself at Panathinaikos, where he helped the Athens club win the league and Greek Cup.

Bundesliga veteran Fanis Gekas was an obvious choice in attack, with 10 goals in qualification. He joins Celtic's Georgios Samaras and fast-footed Panathinaikos forward Dimitris Salpingidis.

But striker Costas Mitroglou, top scorer for Olympiakos this season who was a standout while the team endured a string on injuries, was left on the standby list.

Provisional squad

Goalkeepers: Michalis Sifakis (Aris), Alexandros Tzorvas (Panathinaikos), Costas Chalkias (PAOK).

Defenders: Sotiris Kyrgiakos (Liverpool), Vangelis Moras (Bologna), Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Genoa), Giourkas Seitaridis (Panathinaikos), Loukas Vintra (Panathinaikos), Nikos Spiropoulos (Panathinaikos), Stergos Marinos (Panathinaikos), Avraam Papadopoulos (Olympiakos), Giorgos Galitsios (Olympiakos), Vassilis Torosidis (Olympiakos), Costas Manolas (AEK Athens), Stelios Malezas (PAOK), Giorgos Tzavelas (Panionios).

Midfielders: Alexandros Tziolis (Siena), Christos Patsatzoglou (Omonia), Costas Katsouranis (Panathinaikos), Giorgos Karagounis (Panathinaikos), Sotiris Ninis (Panathinaikos), Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Panathinaikos), Grigoris Makos (AEK Athens), Thanassis Prittas (Aris).

Strikers: Georgios Samaras (Celtic), Angelos Charisteas (Nuremberg), Pantelis Kapetanos (Steaua Bucharest), Fanis Gekas (Hertha Berlin), Dimitris Salpingidis (Panathinaikos), Costas Mitroglou (Olympiakos).