Germany leaves Miyazaki, eyeing paradise

The German football team leaves its southern Japanese base, hoping that the trip will end in paradise and not in hell.

updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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Miyazaki, Japan:

The German team left its southern Japanese base today, hoping that the trip will end in paradise and not in hell. Germany, a three-time champion struggling to recapture past glory, needs at least a draw against Cameroon on Tuesday in Shizuoka to advance from Group E. A German victory could send the African and Olympic champion home. If Germany advances, it will travel to the South Korean island resort of Jeju, where it will be based at the Paradise Hotel in Seogwipo. If not, the team will head home to what is certain to be an angry reception. No German team has ever failed to advance from the preliminary stage under the current or similar World Cup format. The Germans could have become the first team to qualify for the round of 16 after starting thrashing Saudi Arabia 8-0 in their opening match. But Rudi Voeller's team conceded a goal in the final minute to draw 1-1 with Ireland, which meets Saudi Arabia on Tuesday in Yokohama. Ireland, which also drew Cameroon 1-1, can still qualify. The Saudis are out, but they can still help Germany and Cameroon by beating or drawing Ireland. Cameroon, a 1-0 winner over Saudi Arabia, will be eliminated if it loses against Germany and Ireland beats Saudi Arabia. "We could have done it all on our own but we didn't,'' Voeller told reporters early on Monday before the team's departure. "We always knew this would be the decisive match. Everyone is fit and ready to play and that's a nice situation for a coach. Miroslav Klose trained with the team on Sunday afternoon without any problems," he added. Klose, the tournament's leading scorer with four goals, has been nursing a bruised right knee and missed two days of practice at the end of last week. The Germans have been practicing mostly in seclusion in the past few days. Pressed to reveal the starting lineup, Voeller remained in his usual secretive mould. "I have the lineup in my head, but all I can say is that everyone is fit and everyone is ready to step in," he said. But team officials have dropped hints over the past few days that some changes are likely to be made. Defender Marko Rehmer, who has had virtually no match practice since a long-term ankle injury in March, could make the team, as well as Marco Bode, a versatile player who could fill a number of roles. "Rehmer has been training very well the last five-six days. He could become very useful still in this tournament," Voeller said. (AP)