Sat, Jul 31, 2004 - Page 18 News List

Germany coach wants to win the 2006 World Cup

AP , BERLIN

Former German soccer team captains Juergen Klinsmann, left, and Oliver Bierhoff address a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany on Thursday. Klinsmann officially took charge of Germany's national team on Friday with a mission to prepare the team for the 2006 World Cup on home soil. Bierhoff will assist Klinsmann as team manager.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Germany coach Juergen Klinsmann set winning the 2006 World Cup as his goal Thursday at his first press conference in charge of the national team.

"The fans hope that we will be world champions in 2006 -- and that's my goal too," Klinsmann said at the press conference, which was broadcast live on German TV. "I think the potential is there, I think we'll go at it with a different attitude than we've seen at the soccer federation in recent years."

Klinsmann dismissed criticism of his failure to recruit Holger Osieck as his assistant coach.

The 56-year-old played that role for Franz Beckenbauer, who -- like Klinsmann -- was a coaching rookie when he led Germany to its last World Cup title in 1990.

But Klinsmann said hiring Osieck was the German Soccer Federation's (DFB) proposal and the two failed to reach agreement on how the national team should be run.

"My No. 1 priority is finding an assistant coach. He will have to be a man willing to take risks, or I won't be able to put my ideas into action," Klinsmann said.

Oliver Bierhoff, Klinsmann's teammate on Germany's Euro '96 team, signed on as the third member of the staff, taking the newly created post of team manager.

Bierhoff will be a liaison between the team and coach and the Bundesliga, media and sponsors.

"I think I can take a lot off Juergen's shoulders. If you listen to Berti Vogts or Rudi Voeller, they would have liked someone who could make a decision or two," Bierhoff said, referring to two former Germany coaches.

Klinsmann and Bierhoff are expected to sign two-year contracts by the end of the week, giving the stodgy DFB its youngest coaching staff in history.

Klinsmann, whose l1 World Cup goals rank among the best in history, turns 40 on today, while Bierhoff is 36.

Both said they favor attacking football, a skill the current German team lacks.

"It's my nature to take risks. I want a team that's aggressive, has pace and hopefully can finish," said Klinsmann, who scored 47 goals in 108 matches for the national team.

"I think my greatest strength as a player is I never knew what I would do next, but neither did the defenders."

Klinsmann faces a difficult job in turning around a team seen by many as short of the talent needed to propel Germany back to the top of soccer in the near future. His debut as head coach will come on Aug. 18 against Austria.

Klinsmann said he knew the expectations of German fans were high and that he would be under pressure win the 2006 title.

"You have to understand the pressure and expectations," he said. "If I couldn't take it, I wouldn't be sitting here. But Germany won't host a World Cup again for 30 to 40 years. This is also a one-time chance for me."

The choice of Klinsmann as coach of the national team has been greeted warmly by most, although he also has his critics.

"The coaching job is not a jobs program for unemployed former national team players," scoffed Rudi Assauer, manager of Bundesliga club Schalke.

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