of football, quite like he did for ‘fußballers’ of Germany eight years ago.
Back in 2006, he was hired with the singular motive of helping Germany win the title at home. Klinsmann, though, had one condition with the federation. He wanted no interference with his decisions. So a country stood helplessly in shock when he dropped the team’s most experienced player and the Golden Ball winner from the previous World Cup in 2002, goalie Oliver Kahn.
He, of course, came in for heavy criticism from the local press, who even went as far as revealing the number of days ‘the uninterested coach’ spent back home in California leading up to the Cup. But all that came to a screeching halt when he took a young German squad to the semi-finals, where they narrowly lost out during extra-time to eventual winners Italy.
Several of those once-young Germans, handpicked by Klinsmann, are now key members of the 2014 campaign. And they, the likes of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski to name a few, would have noticed that their old coach has been up to old tricks in the promised land as well.
Klinsmann began his World Cup qualifiers by dropping the old and successful legs of Landon Donovan, the man with the most number of goals and assists for his country. Then he picked green thumbs such as unheard of 19-year old winger, Julian Green. This was the Kahn episode all over again — the press ripped him apart in the papers and USA ripped apart their competition, winning a record 12 matches on the trot to become the first CONCACAF side to make it to Brazil.
This made Klinsmann happy as punch. Because everytime he was asked how he or his team were faring, he nodded politely and said: “Fantastic!!!!”
Germany: Can top their group with a win or a draw against USA. They have a goal difference of +4 and seem set for first, even if they lose. Germany seem set to go through, unless they contrive to lose big.
USA: Bring out those calculators. USA advance with a win or draw against Germany but will be rooting for Portugal as Ghana’s goal difference is just two lesser than their’s. They can also qualify if the other match is drawn.
Ghana: Will advance if they win and there is a three goal swing in their favour overall. This will happen if the US lose and they defeat Portugal by two goals.
Portugal: They have the toughest route to round two. Have to win big and hope the Germans do to the US what they did to Portugal.
Belgium: Having already qualified, they will win the group with a win or a draw.
Algeria: Will qualify with a win. Can sneak through with a draw if Belgium defeat S Korea. Can also top the group on goal difference if Korea win by a big margin.
Russia: Need a win to qualify and have to at least match S Korea’s result. If Belgium draw or win, a victory continued…