Germans like their chances at advancing past the first round of the 2002 World Cup Soccer in Korea and Japan.
The announcement of the draw for the 2002 World Cup in Korea on Saturday.
For years Germany was considered one of the world’s football elite and a favorite in the World Cup, but this year the team barely slid into the championship through the back door, tieing, then crushing the Ukraine 4:1 in qualification games. The victory came after Germany failed to get enough points to qualify, setting up the do-or-die two-game qualification rounds.
In the World Cup drawing on Saturday, Germany drew what everyone from the team’s goalkeeper to German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder considered an easy group. Germany is seeded first in the group, with Ireland, Saudia Arabia and Cameroon.
“Germany is expected to advance in this group,” said vice captain and goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. “And we will.”
Of the three competitors, Cameroon, which won the gold medal in the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000 and one of Africa's strongest teams, appears to be Germany’s most difficult opponent.
“On a good day, they can beat anybody,” said German national coach Rudi Völler about Cameroon.
German media are already hyping a rivalry between Völler and Cameroon’s German coach, Winfried Schäfer.
“It is strange when you play against your own country,” Schäfer said after the draw.
Germany’s games begin on June 1, 2002 in Japan but will move to co-host Korea if they advance to the second round. A total of 22 cities are hosting World Cup matches bewteen the 32 teams, which have been divided into eight groups.
Of the others perennial German rival England seems to have drawn the toughest group. The team is in a “killer” group together with Argentinia, Nigeria and Sweden.
But none other than Brazilian soccer legend Pele called England his “secret favorite for the World Cup title,” in a recent column in Germany’s "Kicker" magazine.
Still, some find Germany has just as good a chance at the championship.
"I think, at minimum, they'll advance to the final eight, if not the final four," said Jürgen Klinsmann, one of the star's from Germany's 1990 World Cup champion team, in an interview with "Kicker". "And after the quarterfinal, everything is possible. You've fought your way far and your self-confidence grows."