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   June 4, 2002 | 1050 IST



France get the blues

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Germany ready for gritty Ireland

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Still glowing from their record-breaking 8-0 defeat of Saudi Arabia, Germany are confident they can extend their superb start to the World Cup against Ireland on Wednesday.

The triple world champions will make sure of reaching the round of 16 if they win their second group E match against a side still chewing over the sending-home of captain Roy Keane.

"We realise that Ireland will be a lot tougher than Saudi Arabia but I am convinced we will take the opportunity we have to qualify," assistant Germany coach Michael Skibbe said on Monday.

Ireland started with a gritty 1-1 draw against Cameroon on Saturday and are showing a defiant face to the outside world following the pre-tournament furore over Keane.

"Why should we be afraid after we have come through a group containing Holland and Portugal, who are by all accounts stronger than Germany are at the moment?" asked Ireland coach Mick McCarthy, referring to his team's brilliant run in qualifying.

"We will give them the respect they deserve but when the game kicks off that respect will go."

Germany head coach Rudi Voeller said he had been impressed by Ireland's spirited performance against Cameroon and he played down the significance of the Germans' biggest World Cup win at the expense of a dismal Saudi Arabia side.

"The only thing that matters is that we picked up three points against a team who will probably end the tournament with none," he said.


Germany and Liverpool's Dietmar Hamann, who knows most the Irish players from premier league experience, said the fact that Keane had gone home would play in Germany's favour.

"The absence of such a vital player is bound to have some effect sooner or later," said Hamann.

Voeller has a full squad to chose from for the third all-European game of the finals.

Marko Rehmer, who was on the bench on Saturday because of a groin injury, has been able to train normally since the game while fellow defender Carsten Ramelow was also reported to be fully fit after hurting a thigh muscle against Saudi Arabia.

Rehmer could come in for Christoph Metzelder but otherwise, Voeller is unlikely to change the starting formation he fielded against Saudi Arabia.

Miroslav Klose scores against Saudi Michael Ballack, recapturing his best form after nursing a sore foot, will orchestrate play while Miroslav Klose, who fired the third hat-trick of his young international career on Saturday, will start up front again.

Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given should be able to play despite picking up a minor hip injury in a collision against Cameroon.

Midfielder Jason McAteer, who had to be substituted at halftime after receiving a knock on his left knee, joined in light training on Monday and could also start the match.

The Ibaraki game will be a special occasion for veteran defender Steve Staunton. The only player in the Irish squad to have featured in all the team's games from the 1990 and 1994 finals, he will win his 100th cap.


Germany (3-5-2): 1-Oliver Kahn; 3-Marko Rehmer, 5-Carsten Ramelow, 2- Thomas Linke; 22-Torsten Frings, 8-Dietmar Hamann, 19-Bernd Schneider, 13-Michael Ballack, 6-Christian Ziege; 11-Miroslav Klose, 9-Carsten Jancker.

Ireland (4-4-2): 1-Shay Given; 18-Gary Kelly, 14-Gary Breen, 5-Steve Staunton, 3-Ian Harte; 7-Jason McAteer, 8-Matt Holland, 12-Mark Kinsella, 11-Kevin Kilbane; 9-Damien Duff, 10-Robbie Keane.

Match referee: Kim Milton Nielsen (Denmark)

Linesmen: Jens Larsen (Denmark) Evzen Amler (Czech Republic)

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