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By ESPN Staff

Klinsmann praises his peace-pact goalkeepers

Jurgen Klinsmann has hailed the peace-pact between his feuding goalkeepers Jens Lehmann and Oliver Kahn as one of his great stories of the World Cup.

Lehmann was handed the number one jersey on the eve of the finals and has been brilliant as the hosts made it the semi-final.

The Arsenal keeper was the hero of the penalty shoot-out win against Argentina, in the quarter-final, but will step aside for 37-year-old Kahn to play in the match for third place against Portugal tomorrow.

Klinsmann said: 'Oliver Kahn will play. We owe him that gesture and no-one in this world would begrudge him that privilege.

'He has played a vital role, almost like a member of the backroom staff.

'He has had a great influence on the development and maturing process or the young players.

'I have spoken to Jens and he has no problem with it. He is full of compliments for Oliver.'

Lehmann and Kahn have waged a very public war of words as they challenged each other for the place in the team over the last decade.

Bayern Munich veteran Kahn was the first-choice for many years but Lehman returned to favour under Klinsmann.

The German manager said: 'It is a wonderful story about the two enormous - not enemies - but rivals for the same position.

'Despite the fact that it has hurt Oliver not to be between the sticks it has shown both of them are commendable characters and fantastic guys.

'Jens has been one of the key keepers in this World Cup - along with [Gianluigi] Buffon.'

Michael Ballack will also miss the third-place play-off against Portugal, in Stuttgart, as he rests the calf injury which has nagged him through the tournament.

Klinsmann blamed the injury for his subdued performances, which will concern Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who has just signed Ballack on a three-year deal.

The Germany coach said: 'He has played a very important role for us. He has filled out the role of captain despite a physical problem starting in the opening match of the tournament where he wasn't able to train for a week.

'He has tried unsuccessfully to find his rhythm and the Argentina game was the best example where he was plagued by cramps.

'He had to leave the pitch but would not be substituted.

'He was denied the chance to score goals, which was quite the opposite to the Confederations Cup last year, but others have stepped into his footsteps.'

Klinsmann is under pressure from the German media to commit his future to the national team after a World Cup campaign which has been considered a success, reaching the last four before losing in the last-minute to the Italians.

He was under fire before the tournament when his team were hammered 4-1 in a friendly to Italy and he was criticised for his decision to do the job from his California home.

Now the players and the fans are firmly behind him and want him to sign a new contract to lead them into Euro 2008.

Klinsmann joked with journalists but said: 'Spare me more questions. I will decide with my family.

'The German FA understands what I want and I am thinking about it but now my focus is on Portugal.

'The opinion polls are positive because we have been on a run at the World Cup. It would have been different had the World Cup been less of a success.

'I do not think much to them but I prefer to receive those compliments than to get stick for not living in Germany.'

Klinsmann rejected the idea that he might quit the job to manage the USA.

He said: 'There has been no contact at all and there is no interest at all.'

Instead, he looked back with satisfaction on a tournament which exceeded expectations for the host nation.

Klinsmann said: 'We have shown the world what we stand for, what's at the heart of our philosophy.

'We have shown we can get far and be successful with attacking football.

'We knew it wouldn't be easy. We knew there would be difficult moment, setbacks, relapses, defeats.

'But I hope we have found the right way to draw lessons from the negative moments.

'There was not a moment I wouldn't have wanted to experience, even the defeats because they show you where to improve.

'If you lose in the last minute against Italy you have to be mature enough to shrug it off and give respect to your opponent.'

Per Mertesacker and Philipp Lahm will also miss Saturday's game through injury. Robert Huth comes in for Mertesacker and Marcell Jansen for Lahm.

Klinsmann's team will return to Berlin after Saturday's game in Stuttgart to be presented to fans at the Bradenburg Gate.