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Germany out of WC following 2-0 loss to South Korea | Coastweek

KAZAN (Xinhua) -- Mario Gomez [center] and Mats Hummels of Germany react [left] during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Group F match between Germany and South Korea in Kazan, Russia. Players of Germany in shock after  South Korea won 2-0. XINHUA PHOTOS - LI GA

Germany out of World Cup following
stunning 2-0 loss to South Korea   

KAZAN Russia (Xinhua) -- Germany have suffered their first group stage elimination since 1938 as two late goals from a resilient South Korean side forced a 2-0 stunner over the defending champions in Russia World Cup here on Wednesday.

The Germans needed a win to go past the group stage but the fighting South Koreans clinched whatever chances they had to make the Germans’ efforts in vain.

Both South Korea and Germany entered the match with a few changes made to their starting lineup after losing a couple of key players to injury or suspension in the previous two Group F matches.

For South Korea, Jung Wooyoung started in place of injured captain Ki Sungyueng in central midfield, while coach Shin Taeyong retained the 4-4-2 formation.

In the German side, star striker Thomas Mueller, who was not in top form in previous matches, was kept on the bench, while teammate Sebastian Rudy was also not in after breaking his nose in the match against the Swedes.

The South Koreans tried to take the initiative from the very beginning, but the Germans, as the stronger side, soon took control and pressed high.

But it was South Korea that made the first serious threat at the goal when the Asian side were awarded a free kick opportunity in the 18th minute. Jung Wooyoung pushed the shot at the goal but was parred by German keeper Manuel Neuer, who continued to bat the ball further away, making Son Heungmin’s attempts to follow with a shot to no avail.

Both sides got a couple of opportunities in the rest of the first half but failed to capitalize on them to open the scoring.

After a goalless first half,  the two sides went into the second half with more active spirits. Both sides made a few replacements, with Thomas Mueller coming off the bench in the 63rd minute.

Although the Germans dominated the ball for most of the match, they failed to convert them to scoring especially in face of the South Korean keeper Jo Hyeonwoo’s continuous superb saves.

The South Koreans, on the other side, seemed to have more clear-cut chances with strong defense and fast counter attacking.

The deadlock was finally broken in the stoppage time, when South Korea opened a corner and in the chaos in the box, Kim Younggwon shot the ball into the top corner of the net. The video assistant referee (VAR) showed that the ball first came off a Germany player and it was ruled that the goal was not offside.

With just three minutes left, the Germans went all out, including goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, pressing hard in a bid to equalize, but the South Koreans took the chance to launch a counterattack and their star striker Son Heungmin, after taking a long pass from a teammate, outrun the German defenders and pushed the ball into the empty net.

The VAR system showed again that the second goal was also effective and sealed the victory for South Korea 2-0.

FIFA statistics showed that Germany made 26 attempts at the goal throughout the match, while South Korea made 11.  Ball possession was 70 percent for Germany and 30 percent for South Korea.

It was the third encounter of Germany and South Korea at a World Cup tournament, with Germany victorious in both of the previous two meetings.

South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong, who had said previously that his team had only a one-percent chance to win, said he felt both great and a bit empty after the match.

“I told my players it really was a last-ditch effort for them and I told them that they had to fight until the end,” said Shin.

He attributed the victory partly to a “reversed strategy” his team used in the match.

“I thought about what mistakes Germany might make, because they probably felt they would be able to beat us - that’s what everybody thought. So I thought we could use that as a reverse strategy and I think that has really hit the nail on the head,” said the coach.

German coach Joachim Loew, for his part, said that he and his team were in huge disappointment following the defeat.

“We didn’t deserve to win the World Cup title once again, we didn’t deserve to move into the Round of 16,” he said, adding that his team failed to bring bout their normal play.

“Our team in this match was missing the ease of play and the classiness that we normally have displayed. Also the dynamism that led to the goalscoring opportunities was not there,” he said.

He added that his team prepared well for the match and had a few good opportunities to score, but just couldn’t manage to come down and take the lead.

“Why was that? This is something for us to reckon with,” he said, adding that he still needed some hours to come to terms of the defeat, and after that the team would talk calmly about it.

Germany became the fourth consecutive defending champions that failed to reach knockout phase of World Cup following France, Italy and Spain.

Despite their victory, South Korea still failed to qualify for the knockout stage as Mexico lost to Sweden 3-0 in the other Group F match.

To progress to the round of 16, South Korea needed to beat Germany by at least two goals while having Mexico beat Sweden.

Both Mexico and Sweden progressed into the round of 16 with two wins and one loss in the group phase. Both Germany and South Korea suffered two losses.

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UPDATES:

South Korea coach says “reversed strategy” nails victory over Germany

KAZAN, Russia, (Xinhua) -- South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong said that his team had used “reversed strategy” to achieve a historic victory over the reigning world champions Germany in a Group F match here on Wednesday.

“I thought about what mistakes Germany might make, because they probably felt they would be able to beat us - that’s what everybody thought. So I thought we could use that as a reverse strategy and I think that has really hit the nail on the head,” said the coach at the post-match press conference.

The South Koreans, putting up a good fight, forced a 2-0 stunner over the defending champions.  It was the third encounter of Germany and South Korea at a World Cup tournament, with Germany victorious in both of the previous two meetings.

Shin has told his players previously that they had only a one-percent chance to win.

“I told my players it really was a last-ditch effort for them and I told them that they had to fight until the end,” said Shin.

“As I said yesterday, ball possession will definitely in favor of Germany, but we will have our opportunities. Our opponents needed the victory more than us, so when our opportunity arose, we have to take advantage of that opportunity, I think that worked in our favor,” he said.

Regarding the victory, Shin said he felt both great and a bit empty.

Despite the victory, South Korea still failed to qualify for the knockout stage as Mexico lost to Sweden 3-0 in the other Group F match. According to previous standings, to progress to the round of 16, South Korea needed to beat Germany by at least two goals while having Mexico beat Sweden.

Shin said that he and his team didn’t hear about the loss of Mexico until after their own match was finished.

Although their World Cup trip was ending here, Shin said that he saw hope in the future of South Korea football, as they “did manage to beat Germany, which is the world’s No. 1 according to FIFA ranking.”

“We will review this match and other matches, and we will grow,” said Shin.

He also praised the hosts’ good preparation and organization, saying that although his team could not go on playing, he believes the tournament would be a success till the end.

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Hard work pays off, say South Korean players

KAZAN, Russia (Xinhua) -- South Korean players said after their historic victory over the reigning world champions Germany that they are proud of their team and hard work over the past four years paid off.

“I’m proud of my teammates. Although we didn’t qualify for the round of 16, we had done our best in every match,” said star striker and second-time World Cup player Son Heungmin.

Son together with the South Korean team had an early exit following two losses and one draw in the group phase of Brazil 2014, though Son scored his first goal at a World Cup tournament that year.

Though they still couldn’t make it to the knockout stage, the Tottenham striker had two goals in the tournament this year, one of which was scored against the world’s No. 1 Germany.

“I want to thank my coach, my teammates and my fans for everything they have done,” said the 25-year-old striker.

Kim Younggwon, who scored South Korea’s first goal in Wednesday’s match, said that everyone of his team kept fighting till the last moment and their hard work finally paid off.

Also second-time World Cup player, Kim, who plays for Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande, said that the past four years have been tough for him.

“The victory today gave us some comfort, and I will continue to make contribution to South Korean football,” he said.

For goalkeeper Jo Hyeonwoo, who was chosen as man of match for his superb saves, there has never been a better match than the one they played on Wednesday.

“I’ve never had a perfect game like this before, all my career. I wasn’t saving all the shots by myself today - other players were also giving me some help,” said the 26-year-old who appeared at a World Cup tournament for the first time.

“All of the Korea players, and also the head coach, we  were playing for the Korean people, we all become one for the Korean people,” he said.

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Germany head coach Joachim Low: Uncertain future after darkest hour

By Oliver Trust BERLIN Germany (Xinhua) -- Four years ago, Germany head coach Joachim Low was full of enthusiasm and energy when talking about his big dream of trying to retain the World Cup that his side had lifted in Brazil in 2014.

Yet after Germany on Wednesday failed to progress from the group stage of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Low has to face his darkest hours as a coach and will soon have to decide his future, despite having extended his contract until 2022 shortly before this year’s tournament.

While German federation president Reinhard Grindel and team manager Oliver Bierhoff assumed that Low would continue and carry out the necessary upheaval, the 58-year-old was full of doubt about his future. After his team lost its final group match against South Korea 2-0, Low said he needed time to come to a decision after 12 years as Germany coach.

“Right now it is too early to talk about the future. It will take some time to get over that disaster. We have all lost, but it is my responsibility. German football, in general, has lost a lot. We have destroyed what we had created over the last years,” Low commented after the game.

The coach added that his team deserved to be eliminated, also alluding to a certain amount of arrogance and complacency ahead of the curtain-raiser against Mexico.

Low lamented that it was no consolation to share the destiny of other recent world champions to have struggled in their title defense. Four of the last five World Cup winners were eliminated at the group stage of the following tournament.

For his part, Grindel noted that the federation was convinced that Low remains the best choice to lead the German team into the future, adding that the coach had led his team to at least the semifinals of the last five major tournaments.

Bierhoff said he was sure Low would be able to face the challenge, but added that things have to be analyzed and discussed. “It will take some time to get over this, but we have to face that difficult situation,” the 1996 European champion noted.

Former German international goalkeeper Oliver Kahn said Low was not able to combine the players from the victorious 2014 squad with the new talents of German football.

Kahn said the question would have to be answered as to what went wrong after 2016, when it became apparent there was not enough development in the team. The former Bayern keeper said it seemed as if the “German shirt was too heavy a burden” as expectations seemed too much for several players.

Right after Wednesday’s elimination, key players such as Mats Hummels and Sami Khedira said that negative developments had been visible for several months, but that both team and coach were not able to solve the problems. Shortly before the World Cup, Toni Kroos warned his side “we are not at a top level and we are not as good as we think.”

Low now stands accused of ignoring the signs of complacency among many of his 2014 heroes. He also suffered from a comparatively lean season from Bayern Munich, several of whose players feature in the German national side. Although the Bavarians won the Bundesliga at a canter, they failed to reach the Champions League final and lost in the German Cup final.

Kahn said there had been warning signs as Germany had failed to perform well against other top nations over the last two years, with players like Khedira, Hummels, Kroos, Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mesut Ozil failing to provide the team with the required shape.

If Low should decide to continue, he will have to ring the changes. It is expected that several key players will retire from international football to allow for a restart with younger talents.

In 2017, a young German team won that year’s Confederation Cup. Low will have to build the new German team around youngsters such as Julian Brandt, Timo Werner, Leon Goretzka, Leroy Sane and Niklas Sule.

But first of all, he will have to decide if he has enough energy to face what will be the biggest challenge of his career. 

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