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German coach offers no excusesafter humiliating five-goal defeat

29 April 2004

HAMBURG – German coach Rudi Voeller was advised Thursday not to bother sending his squad to the upcoming European Championships in Portugal following his side’s embarrassing 5-1 defeat to Romania.

The advice from the mass-circulation Bild newspaper was one of the politer reactions to Germany’s humbling in Bucharest Wednesday evening – one of the worst defeats in the country’s soccer history.

“Disgrace”, “debacle”, “catastrophe” and “unbelievable” were some of the words used by commentators – and the players themselves – to describe the German performance, particular in the first half when Voeller’s side were lucky to be only 4-0 down.

It was so bad that even goalkeeper and captain Oliver Kahn, who came off at half-time as previously arranged, spent much of the second half in the team bus rather than watch his team mates being outplayed.

“It was a disgrace. We were really taken to the cleaners in the first half and there can be no excuse at all,” he said.

Not since 1913 – when it crashed to a 6-2 defeat to Belgium – has a Germany team found itself losing by four goals at the break.

Only a late consolation goal prevented a loss which would have been Germany’s worst for some 50 years – matching the 8-3 defeat to Hungary at the 1954 World Cup (which Germany later won by beating Hungary in the final).

Germany, who had only been beaten once before by Romania, more than 36 years ago, suffered a similar 5-1 home thrashing by England in September 2001.

But as Kicker sports magazine pointed out, the German team did at least play some football in that game against their old rivals in Munich. “The performance this time was far worse,” it said.

For the three-time world champions and Euro 96 winners, the question now is: Where we do go from here?

According to Hamburg’s daily Abendblatt the Germans can no longer be regarded as one of the world’s top nations ahead of the European Championships starting June 12 and just two years before the World Cup comes to Germany.

“This was no debacle, no fiasco, it was the final destruction of a once-great footballing nation,” it wrote.

Voeller, who had to compensate for some late injuries to key players, took much of the blame for picking a line-up with two midfielders in Carsten Ramelow and Jens Jeremies playing in central defensive roles.

It prompted Voeller to admit he chose the wrong side, the wrong tactics and should have called up more replacements from the under-21 and Team 2006 squad.

“It was a catastrophic performance especially in the first half. There can be no excuses for it,” he said.

“It is still too early to draw any conclusions. I need time to think about the game and the performances of one or other of the players.”

Voeller does not appear to have too many alternatives to the squad named for the Romania match, the last friendly before he calls his players together for a pre-Euro 2004 training camp starting May 25.

Although midfielder Michael Ballack and defenders Christian Woerns and Jens Nowotny were absent through injury, most of the players in the side were regarded as first choices.

The Germans have friendlies against Malta (May 27), Switzerland (June 2) and Hungary (June 6) before encountering the Netherlands in Porto on June 15 in their first Euro 2004 match.

Former coach Jupp Derwall, writing in Kicker, says Voeller must now go for experienced players who can cope with pressure, and resist calls to bring in newcomers like the 18-year-old uncapped Cologne striker Lukas Podolski.

“Since yesterday at the latest we really do not belong among the circle of favourites in Portugal. Nevertheless we should not see everything pitch-black. This team has demonstrated it is good for every sort of surprise – positive as well as negative.”



Subject: German news