Football / World Cup USA '94: Whole team is to blame says Matthaus

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

LOTHAR MATTHAUS, the German captain, said his whole team was to blame for their 2-1 defeat in the World Cup quarter-finals against Bulgaria at the Giants Stadium yesterday.

Matthaus, making a record-equalling ing 21st appearance in the World Cup, said: 'We are all guilty, there's not an individual player to be blamed.

'We know the press will criticize us a lot. A lot of trash might be said, but we missed a lot of chances, so criticism would be justified. None of us expected to lose because we went into this game as favorites.'

Matthaus, playing impressively at the back of his defence, equalled the World Cup appearance record of his fellow countryman, Uwe Seeler, Wladislaw Zmuda of Poland and Diego Maradona.

The German coach, Berti Vogts, said the game showed how other teams had improved. 'We in Germany also have to start acknowledging the performances of other nations,' he said. 'They have caught up, and we have to look for new ways now.

'I took the best players from the Bundesliga to America. Matthias Sammer, our midfielder who is especially important in defence, wasn't there through injury. But I am not going to point fingers. We all made mistakes.'

Vogts, who went into the Bulgarians' dressing-room to congratulate them, said: 'We made two mistakes and they punished us for them. We knew all about how dangerous their counter-attacks were and how good their individuals were. Their individuals won them this match.'

This was Germany's 10th quarter-final and it was the first time since 1978 they had lost at this stage of the tournament. The triple champions have also played a record nine semi-finals and six finals.

Dimitar Penev, The Bulgarian coach, congratulated his players, who also beat Argentina on the way as well as eliminating Mexico. 'I am very happy not just with the result but with the performance as well,' he said. 'I thought the foul against Lechkov was too light to be a penalty, but it's the referee's decision.'

Lechkov agreed: 'It was not a penalty but we won so it doesn't matter.' He added: 'We'll have to play better to beat the Italians.'

Penev said: 'The last three games have been very difficult for our players but we have proved we have some good players and we hope to do the same in the the next game. I think now we have got to the semi-final people will look at our team in a different way.'

Hristo Stoichkov, who scored Bulgaria's equaliser, said: 'God is still a Bulgarian. I'm so happy because we won on my little daughter's birthday.'

Bulgarians flooded the streets of Sofia yesterday in a nationwide outburst of joy at their unexpected victory. In Sofia, old people lent over their balconies, smiling and clapping as youngsters ran below shouting, waving flags and spraying each other with champagne and beer.

Hundreds of thousands of fans jammed the streets, heading in cars, buses, trucks and on foot for the centre of town, where crowds filled the square in front of the National Palace of Culture. Residents said they had never seen so many flags in the streets, or such noisy celebrations, even during the overthrow of Communism four years ago.

Armed police, out in force to control the crowds, joined in the celebrations, driving around with sirens blaring. Some hugged overjoyed fans.

'Hristo Stoichkov for President]' the crowd sang, exulting in the first goal which levelled the score after Germany had taken the lead.

The scenes were repeated in towns all over the country. Cars screeched around the packed streets while fireworks and guns punctuated the evening sky.

Three European leagues will experiment with kick-ins instead of throw-ins next season, Sepp Blatter, the general secretary of the game's world governing body, Fifa, said on Saturday. Blatter said the Belgian and Hungarian Second Divisions and the Diadora League in England would test the kick-ins. He expects the change to be written into the laws of the game within two years. Blatter also said sudden-death goals would be introduced at the next World Cup, with the first team to score in extra time securing victory.

A Buddhist monk was killed and a 10-year-old novice injured in western Thailand on Saturday when a TV aerial they were adjusting on top of a water tower for the Italy-Spain quarter-final match collapsed on to a power line and exploded, knocking them to the ground. The monk received fatal head injuries, while the novice was kept in hospital with severe burns.

(Photograph omitted)