Pfister dismisses Germany chances

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Germany have no chance of winning the World Cup this year because of their lack of skill, according to Togo's German coach, Otto Pfister. He said that the hosts of this summer's finals would "do very well" if they made it to the quarter-finals.

"Germany have no chance. I don't think they can even get to the final, or even the semi-final," said Pfister, who took over as the Togo coach in February. "I think if they get to the quarter-final they do very well.

"It's quite simple, you need skill and Germany doesn't have that. Carlos Alberto Parreira [the Brazil coach] has another problem - he has to think who is on the bench. Germany don't even know who to put on the pitch."

Togo will make their World Cup debut at the finals beginning on 9 June. They are grouped with France, Switzerland and South Korea. "It's difficult for us, our players are playing all over the place in Europe and even now we are still waiting for players to arrive. I only met the players for the first time on Thursday," Pfister said.

Despite the difficult preparations, Pfister thinks anything can happen. "You have the rankings, Brazil number one... Togo number 59, Switzerland number, I don't know. It doesn't matter on the day, anyone can beat anyone on their day." Pfister, 67, has coached six African national sides and steered Ghana to the African Nations' Cup final in 1992. He took over from the Nigerian, Stephen Keshi, after a disappointing Nations' Cup where Togo failed to score a goal.

"I was not trainer during the African Nations' Cup. I have been trainer since 10 February and everything before that doesn't concern me. I start at zero and we reinforce the team," he said.

Togo were the first squad to arrive in Germany on Monday and will play their first match against South Korea in Frankfurt on 13 June. Pfister said: "The fact we play Korea first will help, but on paper nothing matters. If we get the group together and they play well, then the second round is a possibility for us."

He was disappointed that Arsenal's Emmanuel Adebayor, the scorer of 11 goals for Togo in qualification, will not join the squad until tomorrow due to the European Cup final. The striker did not take part in the final against Barcelona last night because he is cup-tied, having played for Monaco earlier in the competition.

Pfister said: "I think he has the potential to make a mark on the finals in Germany. He has terrific pace and skill, a special player."

The Germany defender, Philipp Lahm, underwent an operation on his injured elbow yesterday, forcing him to miss the squad's training camp in Sardinia.

The German Football Association said Lahm, who is the coach Jürgen Klinsmann's first choice at left-back, had torn tendons in the elbow and would be unable to join his team-mates for the five-day camp on the Italian island.

It was not immediately clear if he would be able to join his team-mates for the subsequent training camp in Geneva from 21 to 30 May.

Lahm, the 22-year-old Bayern Munich defender, suffered the injury in a 7-0 victory over the amateur club Luckenwalde on Tuesday in a 60-minute exhibition match that was supposed to see the team off to Italy in good spirits.

"He will be able to resume running in three days and full training in 14 days," the Germany assistant coach, Joachim Loew, said in Italy yesterday. "We assume he will be at the World Cup. There are no plans at the moment to call up a replacement," he added.

The centre-back Christoph Metzelder and the midfielder Sebastian Kehl also have injury problems but should be at or near full fitness by the time the Germans reach Geneva.

"They are both well on the way," said Loewe, who added that the captain Michael Ballack, who signed for next season with the Premiership champions Chelsea this week, had been battling a light bout of flu.

Germany have friendly internationals lined up against Luxembourg on 27 May, Japan on 30 May and Colombia on 2 June. The World Cup finals begin with Germany's Group A match against Costa Rica in Munich on 9 June.

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