Reaching final a must for Germany: Klinsmann

Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann has warned that if the hosts failed to reach the World Cup final, the country's soccer will be in trouble again.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann has warned that if the hosts failed to reach the World Cup final, the country's euphoria over his young team will fade and the country's soccer will be in trouble again. The Germany coach demanded the German soccer federation and influential figures like Franz Beckenbauer publicly endorse the philosophy he has instilled on "Die Mannschaft" in two reform-minded years - playing at a high pace, being physically fit and dictating how the game will be played instead of playing defensively. "If we lose against Argentina Friday, then the debate will start all over: wouldn't it be better to play more cautious? First secure the defence? Wait for a counterattack?" Klinsmann told the Die Zeit weekly. "That is why it is so important that we advance to the final." Klinsmann's relentlessness in changing the Germany team, sliding since winning the last of its three World Cups in 1990, has earned him many enemies inside the country's soccer establishment. Kicker magazine once described his style as Machiavellian. Klinsmann said he was only doing what everyone in the country knew was necessary, despite his carping critics - he was bringing Germany's soccer up to international standards again. "It's clear, if we don't want to fall behind international soccer for years, then a huge jolt has to go through football in Germany. Most of all the German soccer federation has to take a stand," he said. "Is it behind this philosophy of how you play the game? Or isn't it behind this philosophy?" Changing trends A week before the World Cup started, just 10 percent of the Germans believed its young team led by Klinsmann - criticised for everything from living in California to ruining his players with American fitness trainers - would win the title. Four convincing wins later and the country has become believers. A poll by the sports news agency SID said 87 per cent of the Germans now expect their team will beat Argentina in the quarterfinals and 53 per cent anticipate a fourth title. "Argentina is coming at exactly the right time. We can test ourselves, make a significant jump," Klinsmann said. "This is exactly what we need right now." Klinsmann said the fact that Beckenbauer and Guenter Netzer, Germany's top television commentator, have failed to insist that his new philosophy be adopted across German soccer shows just how "fragile" his reforms are - everyone is just waiting to see if his team reaches the final. But Klinsmann said he already has shown the country that it has enough talent to recapture the glory years when it won World Cup and European titles. "Everyone can see at this World Cup that a German player can play at a high pace for 90 minutes, and if necessary, longer," he said. "That they can play fast football, with just one or two touches on the ball. Everyone knows now, a German player can do all that, if they are guided right and trained right." (AP)