NEW DELHI: Development or winning titles? The question plagues the Germans in the U-17 level as a riddle.
Having made nine U-17 World Cup appearances so far, Germany are yet to land a single title. In contrast, they are four-time World Cup champions in 18 appearances.
Ahead of their U-17 pre-quarterfinal fixture against Colombia, Germany’s coach Christian Wuck, while addressing the media on Sunday, said that there is no obligation to win titles.
The eternal title contenders and proverbial pretenders have clashed only once in the senior World Cup. It was in Italia 90 at the Guiseppe Meazza Stadium. Carlos Valderrama-led Colombia held Gemany 1-1. With Franz Beckenbauer in charge, Germany went on to win their third World Cup title in the Rome final.
The current U-17 boys are carrying no such baggage, claimed the coach.
“There is no pressure to win titles. Our team is in a process of development. Since European teams are slow in maturing compared to the South Americans or the Africans, our junior trophy cabinet is startlingly bare,” said Wuck.
Unlike Colombia, who had played their first two games in the Capital, Germany are the first-timers here. “The climate in New Delhi is much better for us. Humidity is far less than in Goa where we played in the group stage. New Delhi’s weather will surely help our players,” the German coach said.
A 4-0 defeat against Iran in their second outing almost scuppered their chances of making it to the last 16 and Wuck confessed that the Iranians were so good that his boys were clueless throughout the 90 minutes.
Clawing back in their last group game against Guinea, the Germans restored their reputation a bit after the total debacle against Iran. The South Americans endured a similar journey. After losing to Ghana in their first game of the tournament, Orlando Restrepo’s boys chalked out two successive wins against India and USA to earn their berth.
Colombia, familiar with the venue, will not make it any easy for the Jann-Fiete Arp’s multi-cultural group. Already with Bundesliga experience with Hamburger SV, Arp will lead the German attack and his understanding with Noah Awuku will go a long way in deciding the fate of the game.
Juan Penaloza may have other ideas though.
The Colombian midfielder broke India’s heart with two goals the other day and one more against the United States to cut the first turf in to the knockout stage. Leandro Campaz, a livewire in the flanks, will also need serious attention from the German defenders.
Captain Thomas Gutierrez’s gigantic presence in the heart of midfield is an insurance for the Colombians, who finished second in the group ahead of the US.
A fan of Juan Cuardado, the Juventus winger, Penaloza wishes to go as far as possible in the ongoing World Cup.
Definitely more hungry for success than the Germans, Colombia look the more dangerous side in Monday’s early fixture.