Loew de­fends Con­fed Cup team

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

FRANK­FURT: Ger­many coach Joachim Loew is look­ing for­ward to the chal­lenge of the up­com­ing Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup and has again de­fended his de­ci­sion not to take sev­eral top stars to Rus­sia.

“I do not see that as a big risk, quite the op­po­site,” he said ahead of the squad gath­er­ing in Frank­furt yes­ter­day.

Build­ing a squad ca­pa­ble of de­fend­ing the World Cup won in 2014 in Rus­sia next year has top pri­or­ity, rather than adding the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup to the tro­phy cab­i­net.

“Next year we must be in top form and de­liver a good per­for­mance,” Loew said. “Of course it is al­ways ex­pected of the Ger­many team to be suc­cess­ful. But I be­lieve that ev­ery­one can ap­pre­ci­ate a World Cup or Euro­pean Cham­pi­onships stands above the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup in sport­ing value.”

Goal­keeper cap­tain Manuel Neuer is in­jured, but other World Cup win­ners Toni Kroos, Me­sut Oezil and Thomas Mueller have been given time to rest. There has been crit­i­cism of this move, par­tic­u­larly from hosts Rus­sia.

“I can, of course, un­der­stand that some have a cer­tain dis­ap­point­ment,” Loew said. “But the fans want to see th­ese top play­ers at a good level for another cou­ple of years. And they do not want to see them in­jured.”

The June 17-July 2 Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup across four Rus­sian cities is seen by Loew as “a chance” and a “broad­en­ing of horizons” for his team.

“We have a young, al­tered team, with whom we are work­ing from scratch to build a ba­sis and teach them our play­ing phi­los­o­phy,” he said.

“It will be an im­por­tant ex­pe­ri­ence for some play­ers to play with the A-team against Aus­tralia, Cameroon or Chile. That is some­thing dif­fer­ent to the Bun­desliga or the Europa League.

“There are other men­tal­i­ties, dif­fer­ent ideas of foot­ball from what we know here.”

Loew said the Con­fed Cup was “a tour­na­ment for test­ing – both for the hosts and for us.”

Loew was as­sis­tant to Juer­gen Klins­mann when Ger­many hosted the 2005 Con­fed Cup as build-up to the World Cup a year later, which sparked the team’s re­vival.

“That was good for us: the team found it­self, ” Loew said. “You could test the pro­cesses, the sta­di­ums, the lo­gis­tics. This was an ex­cel­lent test.

“There was also a cer­tain eu­pho­ria in the coun­try. The Con­fed Cup is very im­por­tant for this, also now in Rus­sia. And the Rus­sians are look­ing for­ward to this tour­na­ment, they are in­spired by foot­ball.”

Loew did not dis­miss the con­tro­ver­sial po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion in Rus­sia but in­sisted it would not in­flu­ence events on the pitch.

“It is known what our team stands for: val­ues like open­ness, di­ver­sity, in­te­gra­tion, tol­er­ance, fair play but also the joy of play­ing, team-work and suc­cess. Of course it would be de­sir­able if such val­ues were ap­plied ev­ery­where in the world.

“But I think you should not ask foot­ball to over­come prob­lems which pol­i­tics can also not solve. We know that in Rus­sia we will be con­fronted by so­cial is­sues. We will also in­form and ed­u­cate our play­ers about that in the ap­pro­pri­ate form.

“It is clear that we do not travel through other coun­tries with blink­ers on. The cir­cum­stances there al­ways in­ter­est us.”

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