Ask the France players, and Claire Lavogez and Mylaine Tarrieu in particular, which member of the Germany team gave them the most problems in Wednesday’s semi-final, and they would most certainly point to goalkeeper Meike Kamper.
Les Bleuettes laid siege to the Mannschaft goal throughout, but were thwarted time and again by a keeper at the peak of her powers. Buoyed by the heroics of the MSV Duisburg custodian, the Germans held firm to win a pulsating match 2-1 and check into Sunday’s final against Nigeria.
“My team-mates were delighted for me, but more than anything else we were happy just to reach the final,” Kamper told FIFA.com afterwards in the corridors of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. “That was our objective right from the start. Obviously it’s always nice to get compliments, but I wasn’t the only one to have a good match.”
Germany’s hero of the day added: “We made a good start to the game and took an early lead, but then we lost our way again and gave away an equaliser from a set-piece right on half-time.”
The travails of being a keeper
“The second half was very tough,” she continued. “The French put us under a lot of pressure but fortunately for us we were able to retake the lead, again from a dead-ball situation. It’s really stressful for me from where I’m standing because I can’t get up there and help out in attack. That’s why it’s a real relief for me to see the ball going into the back of the net.”
Though unable to get forward, Kamper more than played her part by denying the French with a string of saves. An understudy at Japan 2012, the 5’7 keeper, showed exceptional courage on a truly testing evening, though she would have preferred to have had an easier 90 minutes.
“As soon as you’re called upon to make a save you’re right in the game,” she explained. “But if there’s nothing happening, then you have to call on all your powers of concentration. Neither situation is without its risks but if I had to choose, I’d rather have less work to do than more.”
Reflecting on her busy night, she added: “We’re a very compact side and we didn’t play a bad game, but the French were so strong that we couldn’t contain them every time they came forward. That meant it was up to me to do my bit, and luckily I had a good day.”
Kamper turned in an equally stellar performance in her side’s opening game against USA and has proved herself to be the latest in a long line of superbly gifted German keepers. Combined with her ability to read the game and come off her line to snuff out danger, her kicking skills and innate sense of positioning make her the complete keeper.
Asked to name her role model, the young shotstopper said she tries to take something from all the great keepers. Not surprisingly, though, there is a compatriot of hers who inspires special admiration: “Manuel Neuer is not bad at all and he had a great World Cup. He has a very modern style and I think I can learn a lot from him.”
Before she signed off, Germany’s saviour described the mood in the Germany dressing room following their hard-fought win over the French: “The atmosphere in there was fantastic and there was music playing. We’re going to really enjoy tonight and we’ll start preparing for the final tomorrow.”