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Ranieri not fazed by pressure


Claudio Ranieri laughed off suggestions he is facing an uncertain future with Greece

Claudio Ranieri laughed off suggestions he is facing an uncertain future with Greece

Claudio Ranieri laughed off suggestions he is facing an uncertain future with Greece

Claudio Ranieri has laughed off suggestions he is already fighting to save his job as Greece manager.

The former Chelsea boss, in his first international appointment following a well-travelled club career, has had a rocky start.

The 62-year-old replaced Fernando Santos following this summer's World Cup with high hopes of topping a Euro 2016 qualifying group conspicuously lacking in star power.

But it has not been an easy ride so far, with a 1-0 home defeat behind closed doors against Romania and a 1-1 draw in Finland on Saturday.

Discontent is brewing beneath the surface and defeat at the hands of Group F leaders Northern Ireland on Tuesday could incite the notoriously fickle Greek fans.

But Ranieri was in relaxed mood at his pre-match press conference and had a colourful response for the Belfast journalist who suggested he may face the same fate as Attila Pinter, the Hungarian boss who was sacked after Northern Ireland's victory in Budapest.

"You are my friend? F***ing hell!" the Italian laughed.

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"You are a very dangerous man. I am used to being under pressure. My job is hard but I love this job."

Ranieri later expanded on his sitiuation, admitting that qualification was a must for the surprise 2004 champions.

"I know I have to arrive in the finals in Paris, that is my goal," he said.

"It is very important to beat Northern Ireland.

"If we do not reach Paris it is a disaster me, for everybody, and I would be the chief executive of the disaster."

A spokesman for national association also stepped in to remove any doubt about Ranieri's future, stating: "There is no fear. The Hellenic Football Federation is willing to travel not just to the European Championship but to the next World Cup with Mr Ranieri. We support him with all of our efforts."

Ranieri is taking the threat of Northern Ireland seriously, though Greece remain strongly fancied on their home turf.

Having seen a number of surprising results over the past week, he is wary of any side carrying the underdog tag.

"It is not important who is favourite, we know very well Northern Ireland play good football," he said.

"I am not surprised they are top because I know football very well and football is changing. All teams can win. Look at Spain, they lost (to Slovakia), look at Germany, they lost (to Poland), look at Russia, a draw (with Moldova).

"This is and football is fantastic. The best team does not win every time. In other sports maybe, in football, no."

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