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Klinsmann wins the argument even after defeat

Written by: Staff

DORTMUND, July 5 (Reuters) Juergen Klinsmann said before the World Cup he needed positive results to gain credibility and safeguard a legacy for the German team.

Leading Germany to a fourth World Cup victory proved beyond the novice coach, after an Italian side with a touch more quality clinched a memorable 2-0 win in extra-time in the semi-final in Dortmund yesterday.

Yet reaching the last four with a young team playing such positive football has done more than enough to win over the sceptics in the German football establishment and give him credit to extend his contract if he so chooses.

It remains to be seen if he will accept the challenge of leading Germany's qualification campaign for the 2008 European Championship If he stays, the calls for him to move back from California to Germany permanently will only increase and he may decide a return to the relative anonymity of life outside football suits him better.

But whatever happens after the third-place match in Stuttgart on Saturday, the coach can be confident that he has won the argument.

PROMISING YOUNG Klinsmann's philosophy in his first job as coach was to trust in promising young players, while instilling in them the belief that they had no reason to fear any opponents.

He encouraged his squad to be daring in attack and watched them cast off the fear of failure that has dogged German teams at recent tournaments.

''It is absolutely unimportant what happens with me,'' Klinsmann told reporters after the Italy defeat. ''I'm going to let this sink in for a few days and talk with my family.

''What does matter is that this team showed how fantastic they were. They played fast-paced football, with total passion and they showed they can keep up with the best in the world.'' They should have an even better chance of success in the next major tournament in Austria and Switzerland in two years' time.

Of the players that featured against Italy, Per Mertesacker, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Lukas Podolski are only 21, and Philipp Lahm and David Odonkor are 22.

The senior players on the team, like the 28-year-old Miroslav Klose, who scored five goals, and the 29-year-old midfielders Michael Ballack and Torsten Frings will also have plenty still to offer.

There will hardly be a soul in Germany who is not urging Klinsmann to see through the work he has started but even if he decides to bow out now the team will bear his influence for a long time to come.

Reuters PDS GC1601

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