TOKYO, May 28 (DS) - Germany play their World Cup opener against Saudi Arabia on June 1.
German international players Jens Jeremies and Christian Ziege reflected on their chances in the Far East.
"Our group E is one of the toughest in the World Cup. Cameroon are the champions of Africa, Ireland managed to survive against Holland and Portugal, Saudi Arabia are completely unknown for us. We must be very concentrated to reach our goal, " Bayern Munich midfielder Jeremies told Sport 1.
"My aim is the final of the World Cup 2002," Ziege told Kicker.
"We don't need to be afraid of Cameroon, Ireland and Saudi Arabia. Our Michael Ballack is a player of top class. Hamann, Jeremies and Frings are all experienced players. Besides we have Oliver Kahn in goal. We have footballers capable of reaching any goal," declared the Tottenham defender.
Germany star Christian Ziege has urged his teammates to be on full alert when they open their World Cup campaign against Group E underdogs Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
"We shouldn't underestimate anyone, there are no teams left which can be beaten with ease," said the Tottenham Hotspur star.
Ziege also believes an opening victory is vital for Germany, and will lift some of the gloom which surrounds the camp after an unimpressive build-up
"It will be tremendously important to win our first game as success in the beginning paves the way for a successful tournament," added Ziege, who at 30 and with 66 caps to his name, is the most experienced international in Rudi Voller's squad.
"In 1994 the team was even more talented than in 1990 when we won the World Cup, but we failed and in 1996 a less gifted side won the European championships. The most talented players don't guarantee you success," he told Kicker.
"In 1996 we won our first game 2-0 against the Czechs and this was vital as from then on we developed a strong team-unit where the elder players led the group and didn't allow any internal trouble to go public."
Ziege, whose career has been blighted by inconsistency, also acknowledges the part he will have to play in any German success.
"In the national team there is a group of leading players like Oliver Kahn, Michael Ballack and me and against the USA in March I even captained the team. You don't get to be a leader by claiming this in public all the time, what you need to do is help your teammates on and off the pitch, and that's what I do.
"I didn't come here to leave after the quarter-finals. After the group stages everything is possible and my aim is to reach the final."
Ziege, who is regarded as a certain starter on Germany's left flank, even revealed that he is ready to do the leg work for a second player on his side of the pitch.
"I can play with Marco Bode or Jorg Bohme and I don't mind devoting 80 per cent of my efforts to defence. No matter if we play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3, we need to have two players on the wings," he explained.
Ziege added that his decision to sport a black, red and gold mohican hair cut also had a serious side to it too. "I want to stress what it means to me to play in the national side," he said.
MIYAZAKI, Japan (Reuters) - Bayer Leverkusen's Bernd Schneider is an expert at the art of finishing second and sees no reason why he could not do it with Germany at the World Cup.
'Ending runners-up again would mean we would be in the final, which would be a great achievement,' the Germany midfielder, who has missed out on three titles with his club side this season, said with a smile.
Leverkusen added weight to their reputation as nearly men by finishing second to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga before losing the German Cup and Champions League finals.
Five players from that side are in Germany's World Cup squad, most of them playing a key role in coach Rudi Voeller's plans.
Schneider and fellow midfielder Michael Ballack, central defender Carsten Ramelow, striker Oliver Neuville and reserve goalkeeper Hans-Joerg Butt would love to show their team mates the way to the Yokohama final (on June 30).
'Us being around might be a guarantee that we will reach the final,' said Schneider. 'Then the players from the other clubs would have some work to do as well if we are to win it.'
Voeller has been more cautious, naming the knock-out stage as the minimal aim for the triple world champions, who have lost a handful of valued players in the build-up to the tournament.
Germany all-time great Franz Beckenbauer, who has won the World Cup both as captain and coach, has said a quarter-final appearance would be a success.
Germany's preparations for their opening World Cup game against Saudi Arabia do not appear to be going smoothly - with the team's assistant coach admitting they do not even know what the individual opposition players looked like but promising they would not take them lightly.
The German side will get their campaign underway on Saturday in Sapporo against the Saudis, eager to succeed despite injuries to a number of crucial players.
'From now on we're training specifically for the game,' said Germany assistant coach Michael Skibbe, looking forward to his side's opening Group E game. 'They have good players but it's true that our players don't know what they look like, which means we can't really single any of them out.'
Erich Rutemoeller, the spy in Germany's coaching staff, was a bit more precise after watching the Sons of the Desert, as they are referred to in middle-eastern footballing circles, beat Senegal 3-2 in a friendly international earlier this month.
'They have a tight defence but also some quality men in midfield and they are dangerous moving forward,' he said. 'I think many people underestimate them. I didn't see any real weakness.'
The man to watch, Rutemoeller said, would be veteran Sami al-Jaber. 'He plays just behind their lone striker, Al Hassan al-Yami, and he's got playmaking skills as well as being a useful scorer.'
Pressed to say how Germany, who will also face Ireland and Cameroon in Group E, could trouble their first opponents, Rutemoeller hinted high balls might be an option.
'They do have a couple of tall players who can head the ball but that's not what they do best,' he added.
Germany captain Oliver Kahn confirmed the squad is not exactly experts when it came to Saudi Arabian football.
'Obviously we don't know them as well as we know France, Argentina or Brazil,' the Bayern Munich goalkeeper said. 'But it would be totally stupid not to take them seriously. The first match at a World Cup is vital because it gives the signal for the whole tournament.
'How far we will go depends heavily on how we will fare against Saudi Arabia.'
Voeller has already seen defensive pair Christian Woerns and Jens Novotny ruled out, along with midfielders Sebastian Deisler and Mehmet Scholl.
But the coach insisted that his players were drawing strength from adversity - and their bad luck on the treatment table would only make them more determined to succeed in the finals.
'It is all coming together now and they are all eager to play,' Voeller said. 'Without team spirit nothing will work in a team sport. We have to stick together. Team spirit is the key to a good season and to a good World Cup tournament.'
Germany's first game is against Saudi Arabia on June 1 - and veteran striker Oliver Bierhoff is set to be left out of the starting eleven in favour of Carsten Jancker and Miroslav Klose.
'Whether Olli starts or not is not important right now as he will become important to us in such a long tournament,' Voller said. 'People look at Carsten and judge him for the wrong reasons as he is not a classical striker who always wants to score goals.
'He is very important to us though as he does a lot of work and makes sure his partner can score the goals while he occupies the defence.'
Voeller also had words of praise for Klose.
'Miro can do almost anything. He is very fast, agile and does all the things a good striker does.'
Marko Rehmer is out with an ankle injury from a secret training session on Tuesday. The Hertha Berlin star has been plagued by injuries all last season and never fully recovered. That means that Ramelow will be sweeper alongside Linke and Metzelder in Voeller's chosen 3 man V formation.
this diabolical display by the saudis probably has to be the worst i've ever seen at international level. they couldn't tackle, head, pass, shoot, dribble. need i go on. all credit to the germans for exposing these obvious frailties, but they should remain realistic about their chances and ireland won't roll over quite as easy. klose and ballack were excellent today, but i still think that the germans will find it extremely difficult to advance beyond the second round.
Not even the allmighty Allah had pity on the Saudis...(Sorry I did not mean in a disrespectful way, but it was as if the Saudis were damned by a higher force to play so bad...) I was feeling sorry for them after a while.
As for Germany, I was never a fan of West European teams since I was born on the other side of the Iron Curtain, but I now have a favourite team to cheer for (since my team did not qualify).
It so easy to fall in love with a team that plays the way Germany did today... Now don't get cocky it will not be as easy against Ireland, but I have a feeling the Germany will get very far...
The Blitzkrieg is still in Germany's blood...Oh and that Janker dude looks like one mean mother.......:fero:
Well Good Luck Deutchland, and you've won a new fan (as if you needed anymore!)
Indeed, it was fun to watch. I am happy for Klose's hat trick and that Jancker finally scored. Germany ran up the score to boost their self confidence and indeed it worked. But Ireland and Cameroon will not be so easy pickings.
The Nationalmannschaft has sent out a warning that they will not be pushovers.:fero: Let hope that it carries through to the quarters.
It was huge effort from the german. A disgrace for Saudi football and possibly the whole of Asia(Saudi was the soccer kingpin in Asia). With this win, they have gathered confident and I for once will elieve that Germany could pull of something surprise at this World Cup.
Congratulations Germany, I like what I'm seeing from your players. Disciplined, physical football. I like the tackles too, but that idiotic ref. from the last game lost control of the game and was calling every little challenge...
Klose is phenomenal. He will definitely sign with a big club next season...
Germany actually has a decent chance now that both Argentina and France are out. We'll have to wait and see how Italy does against Mexico. A tie and Italy will be out as well.
I would also like to extend my Congradulations to all Germans you guys so far are surprising the world with strong clinical soccer classic German style keep it up! hope Croatia and Germany dont run into each other again in the quarter-finals
p.s. the next world cup in Germany 2006 will be great good luck
Kaiserslautern coach Andreas Brehme has admitted the club would feel compelled to sell forward Miroslav Klose if another club made a big enough offer.
"Miroslav is tied to us until 2005 and, as his coach, I hope he stays with us even longer than that," he said. "But if a club offers £25 million or £30 million for him, the decision would go to the board. It would be out of my hands.
"If he goes, I would advise him to look for a move abroad," added the former full-back, who scored the winning goal from the spot in the 1990 World Cup final against Argentina.
Brehme's comments are sure to alert Bayern Munich, Bayer Leverkusen, Roma and Juventus, who are now set to compete for the World Cup's joint-leading scorer after the tournament.
Only on Sunday, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge warned that all attempts to snap up the Polish-born striker were doomed to failure. "He is tied to Kaiserslautern until 2005 and they would not survive if they sold him," he said.
"Leverkusen managing director Reiner Calmund has already contacted Kaiserslautern and was told they fear their fans would tear down the ground if their hero was sold."
Now, though, it seems the 24-year-old forward can expect an auction for his signature in July.