Football: Basler's blow to German morale

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The Independent Online
GERMANY'S MORALE problems ahead of Saturday's European Championship qualifying match against Northern Ireland mounted yesterday as Mario Basler, the Bayern Munich midfielder, criticised Erich Ribbeck, the German coach. Basler, upset at being left out of the squad, said Ribbeck only wanted "yes men". Ribbeck is already under pressure following Germany's 3-0 humiliation against the United States last month.

Basler said: "I'm very angry I wasn't even in the pre-selection squad and it seems recent performances do not count. It seems it goes into personal things. He possibly needs players who say yes to everything and he has got his team now."

Basler, 30, who has won 30 caps for Germany, is annoyed that Ribbeck cancelled a clear-the-air meeting between the two. Basler wanted to know Ribbeck's reasons for ignoring him for Germany's last two games against the United States and Colombia.

Basler said: "Even in December he could not give me a particular reason why he didn't select me for the America trip. So we agreed we would talk about my future in the national team, but perhaps Herr Ribbeck lost my phone number in America."

Ribbeck, unimpressed by Basler's sarcastic remarks, commented: "A meeting with Basler was agreed, but why should I speak with him when I read in the newspapers he requires this as a pre-condition for his comeback? I'm not upset about it any more. It's not my job to fulfil the claims of players. I decide who to talk to and whether I talk to them personally or whether I just call them up. I won't be blackmailed."

Basler's attack is one of the last things Ribbeck needs going into the qualifying games against the Irish and Finland, which could determine whether Germany qualify. With so many enemies in Germany, his days could be numbered if results do not improve.

Stefan Beinlich of Bayer Leverkusen missed training yesterday with a knee injury, but is expected to be fit enough to fly out with the rest of the squad tomorrow.