DOHA: (From L) Costa Rica players practise at the Al Ahli SC training camp on Saturday, while Japan’s Yuto Nagatomo (L) and Takefusa Kubo take part in a training session at Al Sadd SC on the eve of their Group ‘E’ match. Japan stunned Germany 2-1 and now have the chance to take a big step towards the knock-out round when they face a wounded Costa Rica. The Central Americans opened their campaign on the wrong end of a 7-0 hiding by Spain but Japanese captain Maya Yoshida insists they will not take their opponents lightly. Yoshida said the Japanese media have tended to focus on the team’s games against European heavyweights Germany and Spain ever since the draw was made, with the Costa Rica clash being “pushed to one side”. However, Yoshida is wary of a Costa Rican backlash after their Spanish humiliation.—AFP
DOHA: (From L) Costa Rica players practise at the Al Ahli SC training camp on Saturday, while Japan’s Yuto Nagatomo (L) and Takefusa Kubo take part in a training session at Al Sadd SC on the eve of their Group ‘E’ match. Japan stunned Germany 2-1 and now have the chance to take a big step towards the knock-out round when they face a wounded Costa Rica. The Central Americans opened their campaign on the wrong end of a 7-0 hiding by Spain but Japanese captain Maya Yoshida insists they will not take their opponents lightly. Yoshida said the Japanese media have tended to focus on the team’s games against European heavyweights Germany and Spain ever since the draw was made, with the Costa Rica clash being “pushed to one side”. However, Yoshida is wary of a Costa Rican backlash after their Spanish humiliation.—AFP

DOHA: Just one match into the Qatar World Cup, Germany face what amounts to a must-win clash against Spain on Sunday, a team they have not beaten in a competitive fixture since 1988.

Before Germany were stunned 2-1 by Japan in their opening match, the team faced heavy criticism for backtracking on a promise to wear a rainbow “OneLove” armband in support of diversity and human rights.

But after Japan scored two late goals to beat Hansi Flick’s team, the Germans were hammered by some observers for losing focus on the football when they should be concentrating on avoiding a second successive group stage exit in a World Cup.

With supermarket chain Rewe pulling their sponsorship and with TV ratings for the Japan game the lowest in Germany for a World Cup in more than 30 years, Havertz recognised that the challenges were not just on the field, saying: “I know not everyone is behind us.”

Kai Havertz revealed the squad and Flick held a wide-ranging team meeting on Thursday, admitting “it was time to tell ourselves the truth”.

Havertz said “everyone left the meeting knowing what’s going on”.

Sitting alongside Havertz, midfielder Julian Brandt said “we had a very good exchange. All of us left the conversation feeling like we had the determination to win the game.”

The importance of the Spain match at the Al Bayt Stadium cannot be underestimated — national squad manager and 1996 Euros winner Oliver Bierhoff has asked what another early exit would mean for the future of football in Germany.

Speaking with Germany TV network ARD on Friday, Bierhoff said losing “our first final” in Qatar would have widespread ramifications for the sport.

“What does it mean for German football? For the further development?” Bierhoff asked.

“And if you go a little deeper: [what does it mean] for the investment we have to make to stay competitive [and] to have new players in eight or ten years?”

Far from being haunted by the ghosts of their early exit in Russia however, Havertz said the match could represent “a turnaround” for the under-fire side, saying “we all dreamed of playing these games”.

“Now we are in a bad moment, but I think that can switch around quite fast — if we win the game on Sunday.”

Captain Manuel Neuer on Friday said Sunday’s match was “a huge chance”, emphasising the side could learn from Russia “we blew it once and now we know how not to do it”.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

IMF’s firm stance
Updated 05 Feb, 2023

IMF’s firm stance

Pakistan needs to complete the review to stave off a default as well as to unlock inflows from other multilateral and bilateral lenders.
Grotesque bigotry
05 Feb, 2023

Grotesque bigotry

FREEDOM to profess one’s faith is guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan. However, for the country’s Ahmadi...
Kashmir reflections
05 Feb, 2023

Kashmir reflections

ASIDE from Kashmir Day, which the nation is observing today as an official holiday, there are a number of other days...
Crisis conference
Updated 04 Feb, 2023

Crisis conference

PTI's refusal to engage with the govt in such testing times will only be seen as sign of ideological bankruptcy.
Revenge politics
04 Feb, 2023

Revenge politics

A SENSE of déjà-vu prevails as cases pile up against PTI politicians, many of whom, along with their allies and...
Inappropriate remarks
04 Feb, 2023

Inappropriate remarks

OFFICIALS of the state, especially when representing the country at international forums, need to choose their words...