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Germany part ways with coach after bad run-German FA

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International Friendly - Germany v Colombia - Veltins-Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany - June 20, 2023 Germany coach Hansi Flick looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

Germany parted ways with coach Hansi Flick on Sunday, a day after their 4-1 home loss to Japan in a friendly match with the four-time world champions struggling for form ahead of the Euro 2024 tournament on home soil, the German Football Association (DFB) said.

The decision comes as no real surprise with Germany having crashed out of last year’s World Cup early and their mediocre performances in recent months did nothing to convince the federation officials that the team could be successful next year on home soil.

Flick, assistant coach to his predecessor Joachim Loew when Germany won the World Cup in 2014, took over in 2021 but his team have managed four wins in their last 17 internationals, and they were also eliminated in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup.

They lost four of their five most recent matches, including the last three.

“The bodies (of the DFB) shared the same view that the national team now needs a new impulse,” DFB President Bernd Neuendorf said in a statement. “With next year’s Euro in sight we need enthusiastic mood and confidence.”

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Germany do not need to qualify for the Euros but have shown no sign of improvement following last year’s shock World Cup exit, and with German fans quickly running out of patience with their poor form, the DFB thought it was time to act.

Germany are three-time European champions but have now been eliminated early in three consecutive tournaments, including two World Cups and the Euro held in 2021.

Under Flick the team lacked energy and power, while also struggling throughout with a leaking defence as well as poor conversion rate up front.

The DFB’s sports director Rudi Voller will be in charge of their friendly against 2022 World Cup finalists France on Tuesday with a successor for Flick to be named soon.

“Now, us in charge, have to act in order to be able to play next year at the Euro the demanding and ambitious role of hosts that we are hoping to play. That is what German fans rightly expect from us,” said Voller, who was national team coach from 2000-2004.

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“The most urgent thing is then to bring in a national team coach who at short notice can redirect and prepare our team for the big Euro tournament next year.

“We expect from them, as does the whole country, positive impulses. A coach who can lift our level to where we know and expect it to be.”

-Reuters

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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International Football

Two Moroccan football players lost at sea, says club official

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Abdellatif Akhrif, IRT player reported missing off the coast of M'diq this Saturday, July 6, 2024. © COPYRIGHT: IRT

Two Moroccan players from top-flight soccer side Ittihad Tanger have been missing at sea since Saturday after strong currents drifted their small yacht, a club official said on Sunday.

They were in a group of five players from the club who went cruising off the northern city of Tangier when strong currents and heavy winds drifted their yacht away as they were swimming in deep waters, club deputy president Anass Mrabet told Reuters.

“Three players have already been rescued on Saturday, while research is still ongoing for the missing Salman Harraq and Abdellatif Akhrif,” he said.

The players did not have buoys on them when they jumped from the small yacht to swim, he said citing recounts by rescued players.

While Akhrif, 24, is already a full member of the squad, Harraq, 18, was about to move up to the senior team this year, Mrabet added.

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Ittihad Tanger have been in the Moroccan top flight since 2015 and won the league title for the first and only time in their history in the 2017-18 season. However, they have struggled in the lower half of the standings in recent years.

-Reuters

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International Football

FIFA launches ‘Football Manager’ World Cup with $100,000 in prize money

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FIFA's Chief of Global Football Development and former soccer manager Arsene Wenger speaks during the 74th FIFA Congress at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 17, 2024. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha/File Photo

FIFA will host its first ever FIFAe World Cup of Football Manager this year to crown the best virtual manager on the highly-popular video game, world soccer’s governing body said on Thursday.

FIFA is partnering with Sports Interactive, the developers of the game that has sold millions of copies and has also been used by several football clubs to scout players and opponents thanks to its extensive database.

Players will compete for $100,000 in prize money in the final event from Aug. 29 to Sept. 1.

“This competition requires participants to demonstrate a profound understanding of football strategy and tactics,” said former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, who is the ambassador for the esports event.

“Success demands not only mastery of game mechanics but also in-depth football knowledge, making this format a fascinating blend.”

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FIFA said in the inaugural year of the event, selected member associations will be invited to be represented at the final event.

Member associations from all six confederations are expected to be invited while players can sign up on FIFA’s website.

-Reuters

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio robbed at gunpoint

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Former Italy international Roberto Baggio was assaulted and robbed at gunpoint at his home in northern Italy while watching his country’s match against Spain in the Euro 2024 tournament on Thursday, local police said.

Burglars broke into Baggio’s house near Vicenza, hit him on the head with a gun butt and locked him and his family in a room while they stole jewellery, watches and cash, daily Il Corriere della Sera reported. It said he suffered a deep wound.

“Luckily, the violence I suffered only resulted in a few stitches, bruises and a lot of fear. Now it is to overcome the fear,” Baggio was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.

Baggio, 57, played for clubs including Juventus (JUVE.MI), opens new tab, AC Milan and Inter Milan. He also played 56 times for Italy, scoring 27 goals, and is widely seen as one of his country’s all-time greats.

After the robbery, Baggio, widely known as the “divine ponytail”, was treated at a local hospital where he received stitches for the head wound, Italian media reported.

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Italy lost to Spain 1-0 on Thursday and now must avoid defeat by Croatia to guarantee progression in the tournament.

-Reuters

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