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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 3, 2006

Klinsmann can 'hardly wait' for World Cup kick-off

BERLIN, June 3 (Reuters) - Jurgen Klinsmann believes his young team are nearing peak form for the World Cup they are hosting though he has had two tough years getting them there.

The Germany coach has battled both jet lag and powerful second-guessers in the German media over his long-distance commuting from California and his strategies to overhaul the national side.

'After two years working hard towards this goal, we can hardly wait for it to start,' Klinsmann said after his team capped a two-and-half-week training camp with a 3-0 win over Colombia a week before they open the World Cup on June 9 against Costa Rica.

'We're hungry for the tournament and we'll stay hungry because we want to be in it all the way to the end,' he said in Moenchengladbach late on Friday after giving his squad the weekend off.

'We're going into it with our heads held high. We've got five weeks in front of us - hopefully five more weeks.'

Klinsmann said he felt everything was falling into place at the right time with key players Michael Ballack and Philipp Lahm recovered from niggling injuries.

'The most important part of the last two years was to develop an energetic and fast-paced style of football,' said Klinsmann, who took over after Rudi Voeller quit following Germany's dismal first round exit at Euro 2004.

'We've worked hard the last two years and had some ups and downs but knew where we wanted to arrive. We had this deadline of June 9 in front of us since then. Overall, it went well. We believe in this team and have a lot of confidence in it.'

Klinsmann said in a newspaper interview last week he was stunned and dismayed to discover some German soccer leaders would have dumped him in March had Germany lost a friendly to the U.S. after a 4-1 defeat by Italy three weeks earlier.

In the end, Germany beat the Americans 4-1 but media criticism of Klinsmann's tactics and commuting, led by daily newspaper Bild, never abated even though they have won three with one draw since then.

The steady sniping has scarred Klinsmann, whose hesitation over extending his contract beyond next month has fuelled speculation he will step down no matter how far Germany go.

'I knew when I took over this job that I wouldn't do right by everyone - that's not my goal,' he said. 'My goal is not to please everyone on the outside but to build a confident team and a strong team. We're on a good path. I'm optimistic.'

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