Sat, Aug 23, 2003 - Page 18 News List

German players fail to see cloud's silver lining

AP , BERLIN

After a 1-0 friendly loss to Italy on Wednesday, some German players were seething the next day at another loss to a top team.

It's been three years since the World Cup runner-ups beat a country ranked in FIFA's Top 10. After wasting a huge number of second half scoring chances, Italy joined Brazil, Argentina and the Dutch as teams Germany couldn't beat.

"I want to win the matches, we're not winning them. It makes me want to throw up," said Germany captain Oliver Kahn.

Still, the Germans and Italians left the pitch to cheers from 50,000 spectators in Stuttgart for an entertaining match in which the Italians beat their old rivals for the 12th time against seven losses.

"I don't care if people were celebrating -- it's getting very bitter that we don't win these matches," Kahn said.

The goalie was in the minority, however. Most German fans seemed pleased that a team missing most of its top players could mount a fightback and show some fine attacking soccer in the second half against the three-time World Cup champions.

"A great second half against Italy. Boys, we're a long way from finished," the mass-circulation Bild newspaper wrote.

The Germans' mood was dampened somewhat by losing top of the table in Euro 2004 qualifying to Iceland, which beat the Faroe Islands 2-1 on Wednesday.

But Germany coach Rudi Voeller said he wasn't worried about Germany's upcoming qualifiers against Iceland on Sept. 6 and Scotland four days later.

"When you think of all the players we were missing, you have to rate this match positively," Voeller said.

Germany was without World Cup players Michael Ballack, Dietmar Hamann, and Thorsten Frings plus most of its top defenders.

In the first half, the Italians dealt the inexperienced German defenders a lesson with stars Alessandro Del Piero, Francesco Totti and Christian Vieri combining for a beautiful 17th minute goal finished by Vieri.

While the Germans praised the Italian's "dream goal," as several newspapers called it, in the end they felt their team deserved the win.

"At first Italy ran us in circles; in the end they were lucky," Bild wrote.

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