Action still on in Europe off-season

From Enock Muchinjo in Munich, Germany

IT is now off-season in European football, but a lot is still happening around the top countries on the continent during the break.



“Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>The European women’s championship is underway in England, while a youth festival for Under-20 men is on in France.


This week we continued with our tour to the venues and cities hosting the World Cup next year. On arrival in Munich on Saturday, we went to the new and stylish Alianz Arena, the new home ground of German champions Bayern Munich.


Bayern were hosting city rivals 1860 Munich in a commemoration match for the 64 000-seater stadium. I had never seen such an atmosphere as there was on that evening, although it was only a friendly match. 1860 snatched a late goal and won 1-0.


The next port of call was the home ground of FC Cologne, another World Cup venue. From Cologne the touring party proceeded to the Shalke Allianz, the home of rich German Cup finalists FC Shalke. The turf of the stadium is mobile and stays outside of the main area, where it is maintained.


On Wednesday, we concluded our venue tour in the Dortmund Arena, the home of Borrusia Dortmund.


But to cap a memorable experience, we were in the city of Moenchengladbach on Wednesday night to witness the friendly international between the Germans and Russia, drawn 2-2. However, Moenchengladbach is not one of the cities hosting the World Cup.

Many Germans we spoke to do not believe that their team is good enough to lift the biggest prize in world sports come next year. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann has been accused of coaching the team by remote control. The former prolific striker lives in Los Angeles in the United States.


Klinsmann’s team is nowhere near the class and steel of the 1990 side when captain Lothar Mathaeus led his countrymen to the podium to receive their winning medals. Nothing has really changed with the German team since they were considered lucky to reach the final of the last World Cup in Japan and Korea in 2002.


The existing scenario in German football is blamed on the exodus of young players from football to other forms of social activity. Germany is seen losing a further 6% of young players in the next two years.


But Germany is gradually becoming a multi-cultural country, and young players of foreign origin who are naturalised or were born in Germany are slowly forcing their way into the previously all-white team. Players like Kevin Kuranyi, Gerald Asamoah and Lukas Podosky, who hail from Brazil, Ghana and Poland respectively, have already turned out for Germany.