Low: We won't let fans down
Germany coach Joachim Low promised on Sunday not to let down millions of German fans when his side face Austria with a place in the UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-finals at stake. Germany lost their last match against Croatia and another defeat against Austria on Monday would see them eliminated at the EURO group stages for the third time in a row.
But Low insisted that his players will rise to the occasion and keep their fans dreaming of glory on June 29. "Obviously we were beaten by Croatia but I promise you that tomorrow this team will play differently," said Low.
"All of us, all the staff and every player is well aware that about 30 million German fans will be watching. They have high hopes that we can win and that's why we have to do this, for our fans, for our nation.
"The Croatia match is a thing of the past, we've come to grips with it. Tomorrow we will be confident, we have to push the limits and we know that Austria played with a lot of energy and went the distance in their first match. We won't make the mistake of underestimating them, we will go the extra mile and I'm confident my players can do it. They've earned my full trust."
A lot has been made in the press of Austria's victory over Germany at the 1978 FIFA World Cup™ in Cordoba, Argentina. That was the final game of a second group phase and the defeat prevented Germany from progressing.
"Cordoba is really not an issue we talk about a lot," said Low. "Many of our players were not even born yet. The media tries to play it up but you can't compare the two matches. Austria have a chance tomorrow, they've earned their shot at the quarter-finals and it's as important for them as it is for us. They're under as much pressure as we are, they want to achieve their goal of getting to the quarter-finals.
"We'll play our game and impose ourselves on our opponents and I'm confident enough to say that today and confident enough that we will prove what we can do."
"Austria are fighters"
The two sides met in a friendly earlier this year with Germany coming out 3-0 winners in Austria but Low said the co-hosts had shown enough in the first half of that match to suggest they posed a very real threat.
"Austria played against us in February and they played very well in the first half," he said. "During those 45 minutes we were struggling to keep up with them and we said back then that there were a number of things that were not working.
"Over the last few months Austria have improved and when they played the Netherlands they were leading 3-0 (in another friendly before going on to lose 4-3). When you look at how the Dutch are playing now and keep in mind that Austria were ahead 3-0, then once again you can see how strong they are.
"Austria are fighters, they know how to play and we are taking this seriously."