German hopes rest on replacement striker


Germany’s hopes of making the World Cup second round, which looked solid only a few days ago, now rest squarely on a yet unnamed replacement striker tasked with firing them past rivals Ghana.
Germany’s 4-0 demolition of Australia in their Group D opener set the three-time World Cup winners on course for what looked like a comfortable passage into the last 16 before a shock 1-0 defeat by Serbia.
Now the Germans have to face the worst-case scenario, having to beat Ghana in the final group match at an altitude of 1 700 metres at Johannesburg’s Soccer City at 8.30pm tonight with their first-choice striker Miroslav Klose suspended.
His red card against Serbia has left coach Joachim Loew to solve an attacking conundrum at the worst possible time.
Ghana are top with four points ahead of Germany and Serbia on three. Australia, who have one point, face the Serbs in their final group match (also at 8.30pm) tonight in Nelspruit.
“I will wait until after the final training on Tuesday (yesterday) before I decide who will be my starting striker,” Loew said. “But every player, every striker is ready and eager to play.”
The most likely choice as the team’s lone forward is Cacau, who scored three goals in two friendly matches before the World Cup and was only edged out of the starting lineup by Klose in South Africa. He also came on and netted against Australia.
Apart from that change, Loew has insisted there is no need for other modifications to his young team, five of whom have already been booked and who know another yellow card would see them miss the next match should Germany advance.
“Despite the defeat there were many positive things from the Serbia match and we have drawn our lessons from that,” Loew said. “There is no hint of resignation (in the squad).”
While Germany have to decide who will get their goals, Ghana just cannot score from open play.
The African side has been impressive defensively and in terms of distribution but have been firing blanks up front, needing a penalty from Asamoah Gyan to beat Serbia 1-0 and another to earn a 1-1 draw against 10-man Australia.
“We have (only) scored through two penalties but we will rectify that in the next game,” said coach Milovan Rajevac, knowing they have failed to score more than one goal in each of their last 12 games.
He could help striker Asamoah Gyan by bringing on a second striker or attacking midfielder Sulley Muntari, who appeared only as a late substitute against Australia.
“We squandered a lot of scoring chances but we must avoid this in the next game. We’ll correct those mistakes against Germany,” said Gyan.
They should see the experienced John Mensah back from injury though his defensive partner Isaac Vorsah is still doubtful.
“Germany are a strong and an experienced team but they have a weakness too. Though strong, there’s a weakness in defence. We’ll certainly have a chance to score,” said defender Hans Sarpei. —Reuters