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Greece hires Claudio Ranieri as national team coach to replace Santos after World Cup

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ATHENS, Greece - Claudio Ranieri signed a two-year contract to coach Greece's national football team on Friday, replacing Fernando Santos after he guided the Greeks to the second round at the World Cup in Brazil.

Ranieri, a 62-year-old Italian, is moving to Greece from French club Monaco, which finished second in the league last season behind Paris Saint-Germain. He has coached more than a dozen European clubs, including Chelsea, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid.

Greece will be playing in Group F of the qualifying tournament for the 2016 European Championship, facing Hungary, Romania, Finland, Northern Ireland, and the Faeroe Islands. The Greeks are looking to qualify for their sixth major tournament in 12 years.

Considered defensively strong, the Greeks struggled to score in Brazil, but Ranieri said he was generally impressed by the team's performance.

"They had a good run and I liked their spirit," the Italian said while visiting Karaiskaki Stadium, where Greece will start its qualification campaign against Romania on Sept. 7.

"I don't think there need to be many changes to the core of the team ... We'll keep their hard work going and see how we can improve the results."

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