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Football: Kaiser: German duds deserve to be punched.

Byline: EUAN McLEAN

GERMAN legend Franz Beckenbauer has launched an astonishing attack on the national side - despite the fact they are in the World Cup semi-finals.

The Kaiser, who led Germany to World Cup glory as captain and manager, said the players deserved to be PUNCHED for their lacklustre performances so far.

And he gave passmarks to only one member of the squad, goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, claiming he's the only reason why they are still in the competition.

He said: "If you put the whole team into a bag and punched, no matter who you hit would deserve it.

"I would have felt personally insulted if my team had delivered a performance like the quarter-final against USA. It was inadequate.

"To put it bluntly, if we did not have Olli Kahn we would have been sent home a long time ago.

"We've barely scraped through in every match except for the one against the Saudis, who practically invited us into their goal.

"We're going to have to play a lot better in the semi-finals but the players have to feel it for themselves that they have to raise their game.

"We don't have any bad players, but at the same time there aren't any truly good ones either.

"We can't always count on Olli. He's playing like a world champion but he needs the support of the team."

The Germans face South Korea in Tuesday's semi-final and goal grabber Miroslav Klose reckons the co-hosts are LUCKY to have got so far in the World Cup.

And he vowed not to let their incredible home support inspire them to another giant-killing result after already taking the scalps of Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The German players have watched the co-hosts' progress through the tournament and believe they have ridden their luck in many games, especially with refereeing decisions.

Both Italy and Spain saw goals chopped off in controversial circumstances against the Koreans and much of that could be down to the fiercely partisan home support.

Now Klose, the tournament's joint-top scorer with five goals, reckons silencing the crowd must be their first priority if Germany are to end the Asian side's fairytale run.

He said: "They had some luck in the last two games with their opponents having perfectly good goals disallowed.

"But the fact remains they still knocked out Portugal, Italy and Spain, three great nations. They are a good team and have the added advantage of playing at home. They'll be riding this great euphoria and it'll be fun to play them but we must beware of that. The fans will carry them, they are like bees swarming all over you.

"We must not under-estimate them because they have shown they can play good football and have a great team spirit."

World Cup rookie Christoph Metzelder insists he isn't going to be overawed by the electric atmosphere in Seoul.

In fact the 21-year-old defender believes the noise will give the Germans as much extra motivation to win as the home side.

He said: "The stadium will be sold out and there will be a great atmosphere, which is obviously intended to encourage Korea.

"But we can also use it for ourselves to make us even more determined. We are all looking forward to playing in front of 70,000 people."

While coach Rudi Voeller might think Beckenbauer's savage attack on his squad is over the top, he admits his side must improve on the 1-0 quarter-final win over America.

He said: "We have to step up a gear otherwise the semi-finals will be our last stop. The main criticism is that we didn't believe in ourselves against the USA - I was shocked by that.

"You can always make mistakes but you have to trust yourself. If we don't do that against Korea, it will be the end for us.

"We must be far more agile and work harder against Korea because they are an extremely fit team.

"They could run tomorrow again after their huge effort in the quarter-final.

"In that sense, Spain would have been a better opponent because our extra day's rest will not count for anything against the Koreans.

"The six days of rest we had before the quarter-final broke up the team's rhythm. It was one or two days of rest too many. This is better."

Midfielder Didi Hamman faces a race against time to make the game after missing training yesterday with a knee injury.

The Liverpool star twisted his right knee during Friday's game but Voeller is confident the medical team can have him fit in time.

Meanwhile, Germany have also appealed to FIFA to annul the booking given to Oliver Neuville against the USA.

A foul was committed by Jens Jeremies but was wrongly attributed to Neuville by Scots whistler Hugh Dallas. Now they want the caution scrapped.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 23, 2002
Words:805
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