Berlin ( Germany), September 2: Ahead of his first international match as German national team coach, Hansi Flick has no doubt about the importance of his mission.
Before taking off to face underdogs Liechtenstein in St. Gallen, Switzerland in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier this Thursday evening, the 56-year-old successor of Joachim Low spoke about his goal to lead Germany back to international glory.
Following a triumphant victory at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Germany then went through some lean years, delivering disappointing results at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and the European Championships in 2016 and 2020.
Those poor performances made Germany drop to 16th in FIFA's world rankings.
"The main target can only be to return to the world's top as quickly as possible. We have the potential to do that, we have the players to do it and we have the will to do it; but we haven't got much time to get things done," Flick said.
The former Bayern coach not only increased the number of training sessions and coaching staff, but announced his intention to modernize Germany's approach.
"I want to see the guys get to their limits and beyond. Games in the German shirt must be something special," the German coach commented. "Next to satisfying results and a dominant game, it is our mission to repair some of the damage done over the past years regarding the team's reputation."
Team captain Manuel Neuer spoke about the 2022 World Cup title as the team's goal. Midfielder Joshua Kimmich said, "We have to make up as we have ruined some tournaments lately. The German national team always has to talk about titles."
The first training sessions under 2020 treble-winning coach Flick were dominated by what Neuer called a new spirit and an aggressive approach.
"I saw the players go to their limits and fight for every ball. They made up for minor mistakes right away and pushed forward to get the ball back," Flick said after he gathered his newly-formed squad in a remote mountain-hotel near Stuttgart.
The German coach said a good start requires enthusiasm, but a good end needs the discipline to continue that way until the finish line. Speed is a must to survive in modern football, the former midfielder added. "All successful nations play a high pressing style."
He mentioned the team's new leaders to replace the now-retired Toni Kroos, with Ilkay Gundogan, Kimmich, Thomas Muller and Neuer forming Flick's new axis.
National team director Oliver Bierhoff said the team starts from zero into its challenging mission. "Everyone takes this as a complete re-start. One can feel the enthusiasm that has taken hold of everyone," the 1996 European Champion stated.
Creating something new after 15 years with Low in charge is in all the players' minds, the 53-year-old former striker said.
While Neuer and Muller are sidelined with injury against Liechtenstein, Flick's aggressive leader Kimmich will most likely take the captain's armband.
Source : Xinhua