Germany began their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ preparations with a 3-0 friendly win over minnows Malta on Wednesday as striker Cacau scored twice to suggest he might be the solution to his country's problems up front.
The Brazil-born Stuttgart striker netted either side of half-time with a powerful header and a well-timed strike to suggest to coach Joachim Loew he might be the answer to Germany's lack of form amongst their strikers. Both of Loew's first-choice forwards, Lukas Podolski of Cologne and Bayern Munich's Miroslav Klose, have struggled for form this season with just five Bundesliga goals between them.
Cacau worked tirelessly and nearly finished with a hat-trick as one of several fringe players who had their chance to impress.
Germany were missing captain Michael Ballack plus their Bayern and Werder Bremen stars who are on cup duty this weekend. Ballack's Chelsea face Portsmouth in Wembley's FA Cup final on Saturday while Bayern take on Bremen in the German Cup final at Berlin's Olympic Stadium, but Cacau and Hamburg's Piotr Trochowski stood out in their absence.
Cacau's forward partner Stefan Kiessling, who hit 21 Bundesliga goals last season, had a game to forget as he failed to connect with the ball on at least five occasions with the goal at his mercy. This was a fairly poor Malta side, ranked 154th in the world, who welcomed back veteran defender Massimo Grima after a five-year hiatus, but the 30-year-old struggled for fitness and his side never tested the hosts.
Cacau opended the scoring when Hamburg's Dennis Aogo whipped in a cross and he powered home his header on 16 minutes. Loew blooded a handful of promising talent and Borussia Dortmund's striker Kevin Grosskreutz used his first touch of international football to find Podolski whose back pass was smashed home by Cacau on 58 minutes.
Valletta defender Kenneth Scicluna then tapped the ball into his own net to compound Malta's woes and make it 3-0 on 60 minutes. With the game won, Loew brought on 21-year-old defenders Mats Hummels of Dortmund and Leverkusen's Stefan Reinartz for their first caps, but like GrossKreutz, Loew has already said none of the trio will fly to South Africa.
After this weekend, Germany will hold two training camps, one in Sicily and one in the Italian Alps, and will face Hungary in their second warm-up game on 29 May in Budapest.
The 27-man group will be cut to 23 for the official FIFA World Cup squad and Germany will play their final warm-up game against Bosnia-Herzegovina on 3 June before flying to South Africa on 6 June. The Germans have drawn Australia, Ghana and Serbia in Group D with their first game against the Australians on 13 June in Durban.