Ranieri sacked as Greece coach - federation

Lou Economopoulos

Athens (AFP) - Claudio Ranieri on Saturday was sacked as coach of Greece, paying the price for a humiliating 1-0 loss at home the previous evening to minnows the Faroes Islands in a Euro 2016 qualifier.

A statement from the Greek Football Federation said that the 63-year-old Italian would remain at the helm for the friendly match against Serbia on Tuesday and would then leave for home.

The devastating loss to the Faroes left former European champions Greece bottom of group F and facing an uphill struggle to qualify for the Euro 2016 finals in France.

The statement said that Ranieri's departure as coach had been decided at a meeting with federation president Giorgos Sarris which had taken place "in a good climate."

“There was no other option than to terminate the contract,” it added referring to the loss to the Faroes.

Regarding Ranieri's compensation, although his contract called for the full amount (1.6 million euros for two years) to be paid in case of removal from his post, the two sides agreed “on a much lesser total,” the announcement said.

The federation denied that a successor to Ranieri had already been found, saying that there was “plenty of time” to look for a new coach as the next Euro 2016 qualification match against Hungary was not until March.

Ranieri only took over as Greece head coach in July, taking over from Portugal's Fernando Santos who had just taken the team for the first time in their history to the last 16 of the World Cup finals in Brazil.

The much-travelled Italian had been sacked by Monaco in May and he had very little time to get to know the Greek players.

That showed with an immediate loss to Romania in the opening Euro 2016 qualifier.

In the short time he was with the Greek team he called up a record 38 different players in an attempt to bring success on the pitch. Injuries to key players were also a headache for the new coach.

Ranieri was often criticised by the Greek press for his player selections and tactics.

The federation at one stage was compelled to appoint former Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis to act as liaison between Ranieri and the players in order to help bridge the communication gap.

Things did not improve, however, and the loss to the Faroe Islands, ranked 187th in the world and with a population of just 55,000, proved to be the last straw.

"Following today's devastating result for the national team, I take full responsibility for the unfortunate choice of the coach", federation president Sarris said immediately after the defeat, the third straight home loss for the Greeks.

Ranieri took full responsibility for the loss, but said initially that he would not resign.

"It's very hard to find what caused us to play so badly," he said.

"Apparently the opponents were better than us. I am responsible for this result, as for the previous negative results."

He said he was "only interested now in changing the situation. We are in last place because this is the position we deserve. And that's why the coach is responsible.

"This defeat was a surprise for me and my players. It was very painful. A very bad result".

Ranieri previously led Monaco to second place in the French top flight in 2013 and also had spells with Chelsea and Serie A clubs Inter Milan, Napoli and Roma.