Ozil: I have a lot to thank Low for
Mesut Ozil is grateful for the way Joachim Low has helped him work towards his target of becoming one of the best players in the world. The 22-year-old playmaker earned a move to Real Madrid last summer after emerging as one of the stars of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ in a Germany team coached by Low, who earlier this month signed a two-year contract extension to remain in charge until after Brazil 2014.
The news has been welcomed by Ozil, who feels the 51-year-old has played a crucial role in his development. "My goal is to become one of the best players in the world," said the former Schalke and Werder Bremen player. For that I am doing everything and working hard. I think I'm on the right track."
On Low's new deal, he added: "The team is delighted, as am I, of course. [Low] has built me up and given me his confidence. I have a lot to thank him for."
Germany take on Kazakhstan in Saturday's UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier in Kaiserslautern, which will be their first match since Low put pen to paper. The hosts go into the clash leading Group A, having taken a maximum 12 points from four games so far, while their rock-bottom opponents are still to get one.
Germany won the corresponding fixture 3-0 in Astana in October, and team manager Oliver Bierhoff admits they will be expected to make light work of their task this weekend. "We are pleased that there is finally another competitive game upon us and of course want to win,'' said the 42-year-old.
"The opponents are certainly not the biggest of names and therefore we are, as favourites, counting on three points. We want to book our place at EURO 2012 as quickly as possible. We are here with our strongest squad and want to entertain the fans with a good performance.''
Germany, who also play Australia in a friendly in Monchengladbach on Tuesday, are without goalkeeper Rene Adler, who pulled out of the squad earlier this week with a muscle injury.
Fingers crossed for Janko
Before Low's side take on Kazakhstan, second-placed Austria will be looking to keep up the pressure at the top of the group as they host Belgium, with whom they drew 4-4 in a thrilling encounter in October. Austria coach Dietmar Constantini hopes striker Marc Janko will have shaken off an ankle problem in time for the game, which takes place in Vienna on Friday evening.
Austria then travel to Turkey for another qualifier on Tuesday, while Belgium entertain Azerbaijan.