Football: Problems mount for unhappy Germany

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The Independent Online
Injury and problems with training facilities have further disrupted Germany's preparations for Euro 96, which had already been unsettled by defeat against France and apparent discontent in the camp.

Their coach, Berti Vogts, believes tournament regulations will allow him to replace Mario Balser, if the midfield playmaker's ankle injury does not respond to intensive treatment, including minor surgery, in Germany.

"I am an optimist and I am sure that Mario will be with us. But if he is out - which I must accept is now a possibility - then the rules and regulations allow us to make alterations to the squad until the kick-off of the opening match," Vogts said.

Basler's injury posed another problem for Vogts, who was already vexed at having to rearrange his squad's training schedule only a day before Germany take on the Czech Republic at Old Trafford.

The German coach described the facilities provided at the GM Vauxhall Conference club Macclesfield Town as the worst he had seen in 30 years' association with the game. The pitch was so bumpy his players had to retreat to the grounds of their hotel.

"I am very surprised. I went to my first World Cup in England in 1966 - then as a spectator - and the training facilities were great for all the teams," Vogts said. "I played at the 1970, 1974 and 1978 World Cups and was involved as a coach from 1982 onwards and I have never come across anything like this training pitch. I am very disappointed."

For the Germans, who have excellent facilities at home, this is not a new experience. They began their 1994 World Cup campaign by complaining about the Chicago ground where they played their opening match.

Vogts is unhappy with the Euro 96 organisers, as he had been assured that the facilities would be improved after expressing his unhappiness when he inspected them at the beginning of the year.

The Germans plan to continue training in private on a pitch at their luxury country club hotel until they find another ground for public sessions.

Turkey's coach, Fatih Terim, has appealed to his country's fanatical fans to behave themselves when his team kick off their campaign next week. About 33,000 tickets have been requested by Turkish authorities for the group phases and large numbers of English-based fans are also expected in Nottingham on Tuesday for their side's opening Group D match against Croatia - Turkey's first appearance in the finals.

"We want them to enjoy themselves without getting carried away," Terim said yesterday. "There must be no fighting... fair play is very important to Turkish people."

Turkish victories are frequently marked in the streets at home by celebratory gunfire - not quite the thing for a town like Grantham, the Turkish squad's base.