x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Fringe players can stake a claim

A weakened Germany squad arrived in Shanghai yesterday for a tour of Asia which they hope will give newer squad members a chance to play for a place in the 2010 World Cup finals.

BEIJING // A weakened Germany squad arrived in Shanghai yesterday for a tour of Asia which they hope will give newer squad members a chance to play for a place in the 2010 World Cup finals. Germany will provide the opposition for new China coach Gao Hongbo's first match in charge at the Shanghai Stadium tomorrow before moving on to Dubai for an encounter with the United Arab Emirates on June 2.

With Bayer Leverkusen and Werder Bremen contesting Saturday's German Cup final, and captain Michael Ballack on Chelsea duty in the FA Cup final, coach Joachim Loew travelled without a string of regular players. "We'll have to replace some players," said Oliver Bierhoff, who is part of Loew's backroom staff. "Our two games in Asia offer us the opportunity for a final checkup, before the start of the World Cup season.

"Our coaching staff intends to cut the roster of candidate players for South Africa to 30. "Thirty five players would be an absolute maximum. For some players, these two games in Shanghai and Dubai offer the chance to catch the coaches' eyes." Among the five uncapped players in the squad is Brazilian-born Stuttgart striker Cacau, who became a German citizen in February. While Loew's squad is well on course to qualify for next year's World Cup finals, Gao is trying to rally a struggling footballing nation who cannot reach the World Cup.

"I think it is a very good chance to build a team and get to know the players," he said. "Through the match with Germany, we can check out the how far China is behind the world football." * Reuters