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   June 7, 2002 | 1500 IST



France get the blues

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Germany undeterred by Klose injury

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Patrick Vignal

Doubts over the fitness of striker Miroslav Klose and the risk of another early exit have failed to dent Germany's confidence at the World Cup finals.

"One of the two teams will qualify and I'm convinced it will be us," assistant coach Michael Skibbe said on Friday ahead of his side's final group E match against Cameroon next week.

The triple world champions, who compromised their chances of reaching the knock-out stage by conceding a late equaliser in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Ireland, need at least a draw with the Olympic champions to be sure of surviving the first round.

Miroslav KloseThey had to begin their preparations for Tuesday's match in Shizuoka without Klose, who bruised his right knee after opening the scoring against Ireland with his fourth goal in the tournament -- the highest tally so far.

The Kaiserslautern forward, who started with a hat-trick in Germany's 8-0 demolition of Saudi Arabia, missed training for the second day in a row on Friday.

"He's still got problems with his knee and he should be able to resume proper training tomorrow (Saturday) or Sunday at the latest," said Skibbe.

Defender Christoph Metzelder was also forced out of training after receiving a knock on his right ankle in Wednesday's match but Skibbe said he should be fit to play against Cameroon.

Germany captain Oliver Kahn was furious after his team, who would have made sure of going through had they beaten Ireland, were held to a draw.

The Bayern Munich goalkeeper, who preserved his side's lead with a string of brilliant saves until Robbie Keane struck, said after the game that his team only had themselves to blame.

By saying costly mistakes had allowed Ireland to fight back, Kahn raised fears that clouds might gather over the Germany camp.


"After such a match you are so upset that you have a tendency to over-react, which is very normal," Kahn said on Friday, looking calm and determined.

"The next day already you see things differently. We were all able to get over the disappointment and pick ourselves up. Optimism has returned and we are confident that we will beat Cameroon."

Kahn was not the only one to stir controversy after the Ireland match since Germany's all-time great Franz Beckenbauer said the team he once graced lacked a true leader.

"We don't give too much importance to these comments made from the outside," Kahn said about the remarks.

"I'm not persuaded we need a leader because our strength comes from our team spirit and the fact that we all stand closely together."

After their shaky run in qualifying and the loss of several valued players in the build-up to the finals, Germany named reaching the second round as their minimum aim.

But Skibbe said he saw no reason why the Germans, who are desperate to bounce back after failing to get past the first round at Euro 2000, should not go further.

"I'm sure we will be in the second round and after that the chances will be 50-50, whoever we meet," he said.

"That goes for the round of 16, the quarter-finals and the semi-finals," he added, dreaming that the once awe-inspiring side might appear in the Yokohama final on June 30.

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