Thursday, June 26, 2008

My heart goes out to Ayla and Hanife

I met two German ladies of Turkish ancestry in 2005. Ayla Banha showed me the way in Cologne while Hanife Safak welcomed me at the Tegel Airport in Berlin.

I'm pretty certain they were rooting for the country of their ancestry a short while ago. The 3-2 loss must have been pretty devastating for them.

Anyway in my earlier posting I predicted either Germany or Holland to be in the final.

Hanife's cousin Kenan's experience at the fan mile during the World Cup two years ago gave me an idea to pen my column HERR BLITZKRIEG.

A FRIEND dropped me a note from Berlin yesterday, telling me his out-of-this-world experience at the so-called fan mile.

Allow me to reproduce the e-mail from Kenan, a young chap of German-Turkish parentage who is contemplating on furthering his studies in Barcelona anytime soon.

"I am experiencing Berlin in a new way. I have never seen so many people from so many different countries in one place simply celebrating and having fun, especially at the Brandenburg Gate and the Potsdamer Platz.

"The so called "fan mile" provides an incredible and electric atmosphere. This is the "new centre" of Berlin and here you can watch all the games live - with hundreds of thousands of fans congregating en masse and soaking up the atmosphere.

"But also in the other parts of Berlin, the World Cup fever spreads. In addition to public viewing areas where ticketless fans can watch games, there are snack bars, cafes and facilities for beach volleyball. There is also a Fan Camp 20 minutes away, by foot, where budget travellers can get a bed for the night in a large tent and breakfast for EURO12 (RM54).

"From my observation, the most impressive fact is that the German people seem united by football, they decorate their cars with German flags to demonstrate their support for Nationalmannschaft. You know, to show pride for Germany is a very unusual sight over here. The last time such scenes were seen was in 1990 when the unified Germany lifted the World Cup in Italy. Even the Turks support the German team by waving German flags or wearing wigs with the Deutschland's colours."

Thanks, Kenan. He will no doubt be backing Jurgen Klinsmann's men to go all the way, particularly since the hosts have advanced to the last 16, although by a last-gasp goal from Oliver Neuville.

But Herr Blitzkrieg does not think Germany will travel to Berlin on July 9. Klinsi's boys have shown glimpses of their potential but if the truth be told, they are not "ugly" enough to win the title.

At one time Germany were a team of muscular journeymen, rather than elegant artists symbolised by Franz Beckenbauer and Gunther Netzer.
Remember Horst Hrubesch, Hans-Peter Briegel and the pragmatic Lothar Matthaeus?

While Beckenbauer and Netzer exuded style en route to the 1972 European Championship and the 1974 World Cup victory, the succeeding generation ground out results often by cynical means. In 1982, they cheated the Algerians, pole-axed French defender Patrick Battiston and Toni Schumacher resurrected the image of the "ugly German".

Matthaeus was one of most distinctive of the ugly Germans in Espana'82.
Yet in 1990, although the tournament was reduced to being the diving World Cup, characters like Matthaeus, Andreas Brehme, Juergen Kohler, Guido Buchwald and Klinsmann himself were rewarded for their creative contribution, however little.

From the class of 2006, only Bastian Schweinsteiger has that mean streak in the mould of his predecessors. In the final analysis, Klinsi's pretty boys are not ugly enough to challenge for the title.

Joachim Loew, in contrast, has instilled that "ugliness" I guess!

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